Sunday, July 5, 2015

The High Price of Stupidity

It seems that the GOP is starting to pay a price for the incredible level of stupidity being displayed by its presidential candidates. Hispanic Republican leaders are officially putting the candidates on notice not only for sins of commission, as in Trump's blatantly racist comments on Mexican immigrants, but for sins of omission for ignoring these comments.

The level of rhetoric in this year's presidential campaign is already in the gutter, so it is hard to imagine how much worse it can get.  To be fair, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry and Jeb Bush all sought to create distance from the Donald, but the other candidates were either mum on the subject or backed his comments.

Ted Cruz may very well be the Rachel Dolezal of the Republican Party.  It is clear that he no longer identifies with his Hispanic heritage and has done everything he can to embrace the White Tea Party vote.  He maintains one of the harshest positions on immigration among all the Republican candidates, defending Trump's comments, saying only that the Donald has "a colorful way of speaking."  This is particularly interesting since Trump has questioned Cruz's birth certificate.

As the Republican Party continues to cater to the lowest common denominator of its base, the general population is shifting more and more to the Democratic Party.  The GOP candidates seem to be basing their strategies on the 2014 midterms rather than the 2012 election, where they took a major beating in the polls.  One-third more voters turnout in Presidential election years, meaning there is a much broader base to contend with.  GOP presidential candidates cannot rely on their narrow base to carry them in a national election.  Yet, you see very little effort being made to appeal to the broader electorate.

Donald Trump has the potential to be a one-man wrecking crew, dragging the campaign down to the lowest level and forcing the other candidates to engage in his gutter tactics.   He has risen from seventh to second in a CNN poll since he entered the race. The worst part is that he will probably get plenty of help from Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee, all of whom are only too happy to oblige with their own fierce rhetoric.  Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul will have a hard time keeping to the higher ground, as this type of rhetoric resonates so deeply in the Republican Party.

Just look at all the Dixie flags that were on parade this past week throughout the South.  My favorite one is this truck pile-up in Dalton, Georgia.  The wreck comes at the 1:12 mark.  These "parades" look just like the IS parades after the so-called Islamic State captures cities in Syria and Iraq, most recently Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Even Rand Paul is prone to stupid moments such as meeting with last year's conservative media darling, Cliven Bundy.  God knows what Rand was thinking as Cliven is pure toxic waste.  Even Glenn Beck keeps his distance from this blatant racist demagogue who defies all federal authority.  This after Rand appeared to be elevating his campaign by going after the Patriot Act.

No Republican candidate appears immune from these pitfalls at this point in the campaign, which is a rather ominous sign.  It even has George Will worried.  On every issue, the GOP candidates are digging a deep hole for themselves that will be virtually impossible to climb out of in a general election.   There is the very real danger that this campaign will end up like the 1964 Republican Campaign when Goldwater swung so far to the Right, that he ended up losing nearly every state in the Union and garnering only 38 per cent of the vote.

Sadly, the GOP seems oblivious to the ominous signs, letting their candidates go free range in the Republican field.  There is no attempt whatsoever to rein them in.  Reince Priebus should have immediately denounced Trump's comments. instead he only noted that the Donald's immigration message was "not helpful."  It isn't Reince's job to pick the candidates, but it is his job to set some ground rules and right now there doesn't seem to be any.

The GOP is so worried that it might lose the Redneck vote that it is afraid to denounce its more bellicose candidates.  Reince doesn't want to lend the impression that he is grooming Jeb or Marco for the nomination, the establishment favorites, out of fear he will alienate the base of the GOP, which doesn't want another John McCain or Mitt Romney or even Paul Ryan, Mitt's running mate.

This could lead to a deep split in the party, much like when Teddy Roosevelt got angry and ran as a Bull Moose Candidate in 1912, but then it was over progressive issues.  Today it is over conservative issues.  It gives you a pretty good idea how much this political party has shifted in 100 years.

As much as some Republicans would like to project this progressive past on the party, the electorate isn't buying it.  Republicans long ago lost the Black vote and now they are in danger of permanently losing the Hispanic vote.  They have also lost much ground among women.  How far will the angry white male vote carry the Republicans?

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