Thursday, February 11 , 2016, 5:45 pm | Fair 68º

Joe Conason: Change? Learn? Compromise? Grow? Not These Republicans

By Joe Conason |

Hearing so much chatter about “change” in the Republican Party, the innocent voter might believe that the Republicans had learned important lessons from their stinging electoral defeat. On closer examination, however, the likelihood of real change appears nil because the party’s leaders and thinkers can cite so many excuses to remain utterly the same.

At the Republican Governors Association conference last week, for instance, the favored explanation for the voting public’s emphatic rejection of Mitt Romney had nothing to do with issues or ideology, but only with more effective Democratic Party organizing and communicating. According to Wade Goodwyn, the National Public Radio reporter who covered the GOP governors’ meeting, their post-election mood was not one of shock, but complacency.

“It was widely agreed that nothing needed to be changed except perhaps the tone,” he found. “For example, the idea that more than 70 percent of Hispanics voted for the president because of Republican positions on illegal immigration was rejected by the Republican governors.”

That would be hard to believe if Goodwyn were not such an excellent and experienced journalist, because it is so stupid, so insulting and makes so little sense. Could it really be true that the nation’s Republican governors — one of whom is quite likely to be the party’s next presidential nominee — are so obtuse and so obstinate that they would reject change even on immigration?

Republican leaders also seem inclined to ignore voter sentiment on the issue of taxes, despite majorities of 70 percent or better that agree the rich should pay more (including many voters who identify with the GOP). Rep. Mike Pence, who will become the governor of Indiana next January, told the Republican governors that he remains firmly opposed to any tax increase, especially on “those in the best position to put hurting Americans back to work,” which is GOP code for mega-millionaires and above.

Clearly the Republicans in Congress, too, feel free to ignore public opinion on this question, since Speaker John Boehner and his caucus have offered a “compromise” on fiscal policy that represents no change whatsoever from their earlier positions and the Romney platform. Government can accrue fresh revenues from growth, they say, nothing new or even meaningful there. And government can close unspecified loopholes and deductions to increase revenues, too. Where have we heard that before?

Meanwhile, the consulting geniuses who predicted a Romney victory — a landslide, even! — are peddling alibis about why their party lost despite billions of dollars spent. Fox News expert Dick Morris says it is because their voter machinery failed, the Romney campaign didn’t fight back and Hurricane Sandy persuaded all of the undecided voters to back President Barack Obama.

By the way, Morris now predicts that the economy will suffer a ruinous decline over the coming year or two, so Republicans can just sit back and watch the Democrats sink with it, which is another way of saying no need for change on any front. Given his record as an oracle, both Democrats and Americans more generally now have great reasons for optimism.

Karl Rove, who squandered vast sums of his generous donors’ money, has lots of explaining to do. But he always has lots of explanations. This time, having reluctantly acknowledged electoral reality, Rove agrees with Morris that the Romney campaign’s failures were mostly to blame. He is full of advice for the party leaders, urging them to change the date of the convention, try to avoid “sounding judgmental and callous” on social issues, and “do better — much better” with Hispanics, younger voters, women and middle-class families.

How should Republicans “do better” with those voter groups? On that question, Rove resorts to cliches about “reframing” messages and “re-engineering” voter turnout efforts, as though issues and policies have nothing to do with motivating actual voters.

Finally, Rove insists that his donors will continue to pour good money after bad into the coffers of American Crossroads, his super PAC. His current bleating sounds nothing like his confident bluster a decade ago, when he looked forward to a Republican realignment and unchecked power for decades to come.

Reality has changed, but Republicans won’t. They insist on creating their own reality, like Rove and his friends at Fox News always did — but fewer and fewer Americans will still pretend to live there.

Joe Conason is editor in chief of Click here for more information, or click here to contact him. Follow him on Twitter: @JConason.

» on 11.24.12 @ 01:21 PM

Ironically, Republicans are proof that the theory of evolution is asolutely correct.  They are becoming as irrelevant as our vestigial tail.  Conservative Republicans are continuing to dig that hole and why should sane America suggest they stop digging themselves into oblivion.

Rush, Sean, Billo and Glenn Beck: Please keep up your death spiral.

» on 11.24.12 @ 02:10 PM

I’d like to peer into the minds of the lemmings as they head into the sea.  Is the last one as excited and eager as the first one?  Whether pushed by others or volunteering, why are they so curious about what is at the edge of the cliff?

» on 11.24.12 @ 07:28 PM

Predicting the demise of the Republican Party can be a hazardous occupation. I think Casey Stengel (for baseball fans who are old enough to remember him) said it best,“Never make predictions, especially about the future”.

Winston Churchill, a washed-up politician, thoroughly rejected by the British people, rose from the dead after the govt in power had plunged the country into war by appeasing a petty tyrant, who understood how to take advantage of the lack of resolve in the West.

Making plans for the future can be very unwise. The people who claim to have the clearest crystal balls are generally those with the greatest amount of egg on their faces.

» on 11.25.12 @ 03:06 AM

Sounds like a prediction, Father Lou.

» on 11.25.12 @ 02:00 PM

LeftInTheWeink I think that there should only be a one party system. We need to extend unemployment insurance without a limit…99 weeks is not enough especially in this economy.  The Food Stamp program red tape needs to be totally removed…maybe make it an online application with a minimum of $300 person - all approved.  We should follow Chicago’s lead and propose issuing drivers licenses to all undocumented Americans.  As for the Republicans…they are non-entity.  Card check should be mandatory because it is the unions that deliver the best benefits.  The tax rate should be, at least, 95% for all who pay Federal taxes.  Capital gains should be somewhere in the range of 35%.  That’s a good beginning.  Do you agree?

» on 11.25.12 @ 06:47 PM

This is a little harsh. Let’s wait a few months to see whether the Party of NO! can
still negotiate anything for the greater national good in Congress.

Let’s wait a few months to see whether the next, emergent group of presidential
wannabes actually have any new “ideas” that move beyond Grover Norquist.

When your political bosses and pundits keep telling you you’re going to take the
White House, and control of the Senate, and then you take it in the pants, that’s a lot for the leaders of any party to digest.

So, let’s see how they try to work it out.

If the Party of Lincoln, TR, Ike, Reagan is to have a solid future, it must move beyond deep South ultra-conservatives, religious fundamentalists, small towns in the great Plains, or angry, scared, aging white people.

The question is, can they do it?

» on 11.25.12 @ 08:08 PM

Nah we are beyond bitching or giving chances.  Lets them hang.  It is no longer about a party…if you think it is about party then you are twenty years in the past.  Unless you just want to continue to bitch and moan about the supposed differences between the two.  Are you that far in the past and out of touch?

» on 11.25.12 @ 08:10 PM

What are you suggesting Publius…having two parties that are a clone of each other? If being a Party of No means resisting the ruinous fiscal policies of the Democratic Party, so be it.

Although the Obama was reelected, he and his party need to moderate their policies if this country is to avoid the fiscal and economic calamity awaiting us. Trillions of public debt with the Fed Reserve printing money like drunken sailors to finance this uncontrollable spending will lead to an unconscionable outcome. 

Also, the public employee unions have indicated that they expect a huge payback from Obama for their financial and ground operational support. This doesn’t bode well for the country.

» on 11.25.12 @ 09:29 PM

FDR used that ole ruse Lefty, and it extended the depression for ten long years. Why is it so hard for people to understand that you don’t get something from nothing? Americans have become so conditioned to living well beyond their means that now they are expected to.

The real problem is not debt, deficits, socialism, capitalism, rich, poor, distribution of wealth or who is in charge. It is clear from their putting a Wall Street man up for the presidency that the right has no clue how wealth is made any more than lawyers like johndog. After 4 decades of hawking our wealth building economic sectors or regulating the snot out of them while exposing them to unfair trade laws and basically teaching two generations that the only thing that matters is how much YOU make not whether what you make is important, it is not surprising we are in the quandary we are in now.

The real problem is we are no longer able to make enough wealth to pay for what we want, let alone pay for what we have already consumed. This blindness to common sense and logic is now institutionalized and reflected in the last election. If you don’t get that, then you are a nagging persistent part of the problem.

However there is hope. We still have enough natural resources, enough manufacturing and agriculture to reverse this ugly trend. But to realize this and make it work both sides need to recognize that Wall Street bankers, looters, pirates and gamblers are no different than governments, unions and parasitic services, none of which create new wealth and all consume more value than they produce.

Cutting government is the best long term strategy since it is the biggest wealth consumer with the worst ROI. Unions are next as they have become nothing but legalized extortion rackets, the core of their origin already having been codified in federal labor law.

Then there is us, we the people, spoiled, petulant, entitlement minded, selfish, self absorbed and narcissistic. We through our God out and replaced Him a million commercial idols. We worship entertainers as though they were gods, making them the worst examples of conspicuous consumption.

Until we decide to be the rough, selfless, pioneering and self reliant people like those who built this land we will continue down this current road toward bankruptcy, and tyranny.

» on 11.26.12 @ 01:05 AM

The issue is not one of political relevance.  Although taking varying lengths of time, political parties have demonstrated unwaivering abilities to rise from the ashes after every ousting to shift the balance of power back and forth in this country.  Setting moral differences aside for the moment, the issue is that we are institutionalizing “taking” at the expense of “making”.  Reasonable people can agree that appropriate public services need to exist that can only realistically be funded by people.  But we are breeding generations of people whose only skill is to stick out an upturned palm.  The amount of waste in government these days is staggering, starting with the 800 million dollar prescription drug benefit years ago.  What sane person thought that was an accurate number?  I’m not for higher taxes above spending reform.  Get your house in order, then come see me for another loan.

» on 11.26.12 @ 02:06 AM

You are all under the misconception that parties, left vs. right, higher taxes, lower taxes, illegals, Dems vs. Republicans, free health care, your opinions, etc. are relevant to today’s paradigm.  They are not. 

Human history has a nagging tendency to repeat itself time and again.  Were there Democrats 300 years ago?  Where there Republicans?  Was there a United States of America?  Nope…but like the glacier it is human history inexorably moved.  Your arguments are irrelevant to the period we have now entered – they are extinct.  I personally want to hasten the change.  If higher taxes helps to collapse the system then I’m all for it.  If lower taxes helps to collapse the system then I’m on board with that.

Either way it doesn’t matter.  When you read these prehistoric pundits pontificate about what is wrong and how their approach will solve all our problems…read them with the knowledge that they, like the dinosaurs and the thousands of pundits before them, are dead. 

The nice thing about the Founding Fathers is that they built in some really sneaky trap doors.  One is that they knew republics have NEVER lasted more than 200 plus years…the other is that this Republic is made up of States.  That’s the neat trap door that was built into the template.  I look forward, with anticipation, for that trap door to be used.  In the meantime I’m sure you all will waste your time going back and forth…calling each other childish names and monikers.  Have fun.

» on 11.26.12 @ 03:46 AM

Dan, I do feel if we continue on the path we seem to be on, an economic implosion much worse than the one we experienced in 2008 could be in the cards for us.

However, unlike you, I am not eager to hasten its arrival. I have a son who just graduated college with a very bright future, and I worry if the same opportunities will be available to him that were afforded to our generation. So I will I continue to speak out and do whatever I can to head off this economic calamity.

At this point it is not about me anymore. We owe it to our children to fix the mess we have created. We do not have to experience a total collapse to bring about the change you’re hoping for.

» on 11.26.12 @ 12:58 PM

AN50, here is the mistake I think you’re making. Like most everyone else in this country they think that the federal system supports that which would allow them the best opportunities. It doesn’t. It used to, but it doesn’t anymore. It is a cancer…a virus.  Your son will have far better opportunity without the false crux of a federal system that actually restricts and hinders opportunity.  Just because the federal system collapses doesn’t mean that we would collapse with it.  That is the mistake you are making.  The Sun will come up, the Sun will go down.  The Moon will still rise and you will have food on your table - and at a lower cost.  Energy will be far cheaper.  If the Federals are not around life will go on.  We will still have a military.  Smaller yes…and diverse, but we will still have a military to protect us.  We will still have an economy. 

Even you think that the Federals are needed.  That is the big lie.  And it is one that the Founding Fathers recognized. They built an absolutely brilliant system.  And only now is its genius really making its appearance visible.

Sure the Constitution WAS (past tense) an amazing document.  But that document is now being blatantly ignored by a growing family of Federals (not Americans – Federals.  If you are an employee of the Federal government; you are a Federal. There is a big difference).  Here is a perfect example:

We no longer have a 4th Amendment…a far weaker 5th Amendment, a constantly escalating war on the 2nd Amendment.  A 1st Amendment that is being aborted to support a media system that Goebbels would be proud of. 

We have a growing Federal population whose only loyalty is to the god of government.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see gated communities spring up where the only residents are Federals…they will feel, and be, safer that way.  In fact the Washington D.C. suburbs are just that.

We have so-called pundits like Sean Vanity, Maddow, Mathews, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, CBS…, that shriek on the sidelines yet they are part of the very same disease. And only offer distraction from the reality that is now America.

We absolutely do not need the Federals.  Quite the opposite…they need us. Now you continually call for smaller government…it WILL NOT HAPPEN! Period.  History has always shown that a government grows like any disease.  It is a blessing for a short period then it takes on a life of its own and becomes a country in itself.  It begins to feed on the very citizens it is “sworn” to support.  So these side issues like taxes – high or low – do not matter.  Entitlements like Social Security and Medicare – do not matter.  The deficit – may it please God continue to rise – does not matter.  What matters in all of this is the trap door the Founders designed around…the States.

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