Despite PolicyMic pundit John Giokaris' fervent wish for the Republican Party to focus on "optimism, opportunity and vision," the GOP is still failing in its efforts to target and communicate with the voters whose policies it continues to alienate.
The Republican outreach program that was supposed to address the deficiencies in attracting the coalition of voters that re-elected President Obama is off to a rocky start at best. The much-maligned autopsy report, Growth and Opportunity, was supposed to map out a strategy for improving Republican voter turnout among gay, Hispanic, African-American, millennial, and women voters. However, around the country and across a wide variety of issues, we can see that the Republicans are no closer to broadening their tent than they were in 2012.
In each of the key demographics identified by the Growth and Opportunity report, the Republican Party has revealed that it is stuck in its old ways. Actions speak louder than words, and going into the 2014 mid-term elections, all the Republicans have going for them in terms of outreach, growth, and opportunity is a rallying cry to their base via the IRS scandal. Let's take a look at Republican outreach in each of the growth and opportunity sectors.
1. LGBTQ Community Outreach:
The Republican National Committee bowed to pressure from the social conservative bloc and voted unanimously to retain a ban on same sex marriage in their national platform. Republicans rejected an amendment to the Senate immigration reform bill to include support for bi-national gay couples. They described the amendment as a "poison pill." PolicyMic pundit Ned Flaherty solemnly declared "The Republican Party has light-years to travel before it can erase its decades of harm to the LGBT community."
2. Women's Rights Outreach:
Republican legislatures all over the country continue to enact laws that disproportionately affect women's healthcare. In many Republican-led states, for example Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Alabama, North Dakota, Republicans have tried to implement increasingly restrictive measures that virtually strip women of the right to choose an abortion in those states. Many of these measures have been struck down or blocked by federal lawsuits. Republicans voted for the 37th time to repeal Obamacare, healthcare legislation that dramatically improves healthcare services for low-income families which are often headed by women, as well as increasing preventive services for women.
3. Hispanic Outreach:
In Florida, the former head of the Republican Hispanic outreach program resigned, saying that Republicans remain intolerant towards the Hispanic community. "It doesn't take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today. I have wondered before about the seemingly harsh undertones about immigrants and others," wrote Pablo Pantoja. Republicans in the House are obstructing the progress of comprehensive immigration reform legislation even as they give lip service to Hispanic outreach.
Fellow PolicyMic pundit Douglas Goodman lamented House Republican obstructionism on immigration reform. He wrote that "the GOP has been vocal since November about its need to be more welcoming and attract Hispanic voters. Taking the same approach as the Senate towards immigration reform would give them a chance. From the statements and actions today, that appears to be more empty political rhetoric." As Goodman astutely observed, "[Republican] House leadership is willing to let this chance slip by. They are betting the party's future and they could very well lose the bet."
4. African-American Outreach:
There has been virtually no effort to secure more African-American votes. The Republican methodology continues to be to use slave imagery, promote loud-mouth African-American candidates for office, and remind African-Americans of a Republican Party that no longer exists. E.W. Jackson, the African-American Republican candidate for Virginia's lieutenant governor, is a perfect example of the failed, stale, insulting, and obsolete approach to Republican outreach methods towards the African-American community. Jackson goes beyond the standard slave imagery rhetoric made popular by African-American conservatives such as Allen West or Herman Cain. He wraps his slave rhetoric around a message of immorality that he associates with being a Democrat.
Jackson preached that "the civil rights establishment has embraced the lies and betrayed the black community and God Almighty for 30 pieces of silver from the Democrat Party. We, as Christians, ought to know better. Shame on us for allowing ourselves to be sold to the highest bidder! We belong to God. Our ancestors were sold against their will centuries ago, but we're going to the slave market voluntarily today." He will soon find out that slave imagery may resonate with some members of his supposed conservative constituency, but it totally alienates the black community.
Republicans would like to implement "free market" principles that will naturally stimulate the economy which include privatizing social security and public education, and giving tax breaks to corporations to incentivize them to repatriate offshore revenue. These are debatable initiatives; however, they would also like to repeal Obamacare and reject Obama's plan for making college tuition more affordable. A repeal of Obamacare would eliminate the provision that allows millennials to remain on their parent's healthcare plan until 26, and reducing Pell Grants would impact the ability of millennials to obtain the education that is required to obtain the jobs that a tax holiday on repatriated revenue is supposed to create and generate the income that they will invest in the private savings account that will replace social security.
6. Low Income i.e. the Working Poor Outreach:
The Republicans don't really have an outreach program for this group. However, we can look at Obamacare for some signals on how they would approach this group. Obamacare would expand Medicaid to provide health care coverage to low-income adults with no children at home and people working jobs that pay little and don't come with health insurance. Nine Republican governors are supporting Medicaid expansion: Jan Brewer in Arizona, Rick Scott in Florida, Terry Branstad in Iowa, Rick Snyder in Michigan, Brian Sandoval in Nevada, Chris Christie in New Jersey, Susana Martinez in New Mexico, Jack Dalrymple in North Dakota, and John Kasich in Ohio. Four of these governors have run into Republican obstructionism in their respective legislatures. Governor Brewer has pledged to veto any legislation submitted by the legislature until they authorize the Medicaid expansion in her state.
The GOP was right to be concerned about making its message more appealing to the shifting demographics in America. But it's not the communication that is the problem, it's the policy contained in the message.