The Republican establishment’s ham-fisted courtship of the American electorate feels like watching the science nerds on The Big Bang Theory hit on a hot girl. Over and over again. The same way. Getting more and more uncomfortable each time. Oh, you like immigration reform? Uh, I can do that. Border security? No? Ok. Just tell me what you want. I’ll do anything. Anything!
Meanwhile, the girl gets the nice little nerds to buy her pretty things, then runs off with the jerk boyfriend who treats her like garbage.
Obama advisor David Plouffe is enjoying the spectacle as he drives off in his Lexus. Responding to a question about Marco Rubio’s messianic possibilities in transforming the Hispanic vote, Mr. Plouffe said, “The Hispanic voters in Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico don’t give a damn about Marco Rubio, the Tea Party Cuban-American from Florida.”
Plouffe isn’t just posturing. It’s the reality on the ground. Mr. Plouffe explains, “You know what? We won the Cuban vote….It’s probably my favorite stat of the whole campaign. So this notion that Marco Rubio is going to heal their problems – it’s not even sophomoric; it’s juvenile! And by the way: the bigger problem they’ve got with Latinos isn’t immigration. It’s their economic policies and health care. The group that supported the president’s health care bill the most? Latinos.”
Polls differ on who outright won the Cuban vote in Florida, but at worst, Obama won 48% of their vote, up from 35% in 2008. Will Rubio’s ethnicity and charisma overcome the Republican deficit with Hispanics? The “Tea Party Cuban-American” couldn’t even deliver his home state’s Cuban-American population. An important lesson of last year’s election was that Dems have a much better grasp on what people want to hear and what motivates them. Plouffe should be shutting his mouth about how out of touch Republicans are, and go on winning elections, but he’s so astounded that they’re playing make believe about why they can’t win the Hispanic vote, he can’t help himself.
Yet the establishment still believes that comprehensive immigration reform holds the key to Hispanics’ hearts. A cursory Google search on Reagan’s 1986 amnesty quickly and clearly illustrates the obvious evidence to the contrary. Aside from the immorality of propagating the de-evolution of civil society by endorsing lawlessness to buy votes, amnesty is bad politics as well. It brings in millions of new Democrat voters. And that’s all it does. Democrats know this. Republicans lie to themselves.
It brings to mind Megyn Kelly’s famous quip on election night. “Is this just math that Republicans do to make themselves feel better?” Yes, Megyn, the Kool-aid tastes that good.
Just as Reagan’s amnesty didn’t gain the Hispanic vote, appointing Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice didn’t gain the black vote. Millions of dollars in foreign aid to African countries to fight disease raised Bush’s popularity in Africa, but didn’t make any headway in the near unanimous block of black support for Democrats. “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
To alter this dynamic, it’s going to take more than Republicans saying, “Look! We have blacks and Hispanics in our party, too!”
Republicans often discuss the black and Hispanic votes and how a small swing in these blocks would shift national elections to the right, but they don’t fight for those shifts by arguing for strong conservative ideas where large minority populations live. The City Journal discussed what such a campaign in the Democrats’ urban fortresses might look like. Republicans can offer tangible and measurable benefits to urban communities with specific policies on issues such as crime and school choice. When they make this effort, Republicans can win in even Democrat strongholds. Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie, winners in solid-blue New York and New Jersey, are prime examples.
Drilling down to the tactical level, Democrats hit the frontlines of last year’s election with full situational awareness, using the political equivalents of satellite intel and drone strikes, while the fog of war engulfed Republicans up to the moment the election was called. (Dick Morris and Karl Rove are still drifting in that fog somewhere.)
In the election post-mortem, Republicans blamed Hurricane Sandy, voter fraud, Obama’s Santa Claus goody-bag, and other political chaff to explain away the fact that Democrats outmaneuvered them at every step, culminating in the Election Day disaster of the Romney campaign’s Project Orca collapse while Obama coasted to victory on the back of his Narwhal system. While polls continued to show leads for Obama in various battleground states, Republicans took to attacking the messenger and predicting a Romney landslide rather than confront these situational reports, deal with the facts on the ground, and adjust accordingly.
It’s striking that the denial of reality Democrats show in policy matters, whether it be gun control or climate change or the ticking time bomb of debt, should be mirrored in Republican circles when it comes to electoral politics.
Policy is about being right. Politics is about winning. Both require accepting reality.
Robert J. Guenther is a political commentator and Editor-in-Chief of BiasBreakdown. He can be followed on Twitter @biasbreakdown.
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