The GOP Worries About Its Reputation, But Should They?

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, March 18, 2013 10:27 EDT
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Andrew Breitbar, patron saint of assholes.

Back from SXSW, and ready to get back to blogging business. I’ve been following the media coverage over the Republican crisis of faith and the dawning realization that catering to straight white men who believe they’re superior to everyone else may not work as a long-term strategy for political viability. Let’s just say that I’m amused, because they also realize that they can’t give up that core identity without losing their base supporters. So the hope is that there’s some way to continue the straight-white-guys-uber-alles policies without everyone else noticing.

The latest missive in the identity crisis:

report released by the Republican National Committee’s Growth and Opportunity Project finds that most voters see the party as “out of touch” and “scary,” and concludes that Republicans must focus on outreach to minorities.

The report, which analyzed the GOP’s losses in the 2012 elections, said that many of those surveyed described the party as “narrow minded” and a party of “stuff old men.”

“Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the Party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country,” the report says. “When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us.”

The report recommends that the GOP “stop talking to itself” and that “If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them, and show our sincerity.” On social issues, the RNC concludes that Republicans need to be more “inclusive and welcoming.”

The problem is that Republicans do show their sincerity. In fact, the vast majority of scandals involving what some Republican said about this or that or rape is that they really do believe that shit. Prior to 2008, Republicans used to understand—and openly speak about it!—that in order to convince the public that they aren’t that bad, they had to run as far away from “sincerity” as humanly possible. Obviously, being insincere fuckwits is still a favorite strategy—witness the feigned concern over rape that’s part advertisement for guns, part attempt to redefine rape so that only scary men hiding in the bushes count as rapists—but part of what’s happening is that the Tea Party faction, after years of being coached about how the greatest oppression of all is “political correctness”, are done putting up with having to be quiet about their opinions. They don’t care if the forces of “political correctness” are fellow Republicans telling them to withhold their opinions on the goodness of slavery or to keep their belief that most rapes aren’t “legitimate” to themselves. What Republicans probably need is more insincerity, just enough to trick a few naive voters (such as many in the Beltway press) into thinking they aren’t so bad.

Of course, being insincere can only get you so far, since policies do talk. You can say you want minority participation until you’re blue in the face, but if you’re running around passing policies that are specifically designed to prevent minorities from exercising their right to vote, people are going to see you’re a liar. You can make sad faces and say you’re not trying to wage war on women, but if you’re trying to take away accesss to contraception and abortion while also voting against the Violence Against Women Act, don’t expect people to believe you.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t know that it’s as bad for Republicans as they think. Their brand is the Asshole Party. They admit as much in this report. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for winning elections, which is why they control the House. For one thing, assholes are extremely loyal people. If they recognize you as a fellow asshole, they will be on your side. Because they’re assholes, they don’t mind bullying and intimidating the opposition, which has worked out well for Republicans as often as not. And, at the end of the day, most people have a bit of asshole in them. It comes out, say, when prized athletes from your beloved local football team rape a girl at a party. When that happens, suddenly assholes appear to be a solid majority of the community, angrily defending rapists and denouncing rape victims. Republicans used to be good at tapping the inner asshole of a lot of Americans, albeit mostly white Americans. I suspect they’ll find a way to do it again. Which is why it’s important for people on the left to not grow complacent about this.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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