Gotta find me a good man …
— Bonnie Raitt
Here’s how you know your political party’s got no electable candidate: You waste your anger and effort trying to convince others that political events from the past are what matter today, that if you rail against them enough, you can somehow magically change them.
Republicans: You lost the last two presidential elections because you had lousy candidates. John McCain and Mitt Romney may be fine gentlemen in the overall scheme of things, but they were not the best choices to take on Barack Obama. Both had alienated such a large portion of the GOP base by the time they won their party’s nomination, it was almost as if they were Democratic operatives sent in to sabotage the election.
With Obama’s tenure winding down, you’d think Republicans would take a long, hard look at the 2008 and 2012 elections and a) come up with a platform more in tune with this century and b) find a candidate who appeals to more than rich, old white men.
Instead, potential Republican candidates are spending precious time they could be using to project leadership simply continuing the misguided GOP strategy of opposing any bit of legislation proposed by the president or other Democrats, by blaming all the country’s problems on Democrats, and by voting against common-sense legislation that would guarantee gender pay equity and provide some type of immigration reform.
It’s almost as if the GOP strategy is something like: Look, we’ve already alienated just about every black person there is in America, let’s go after women and Hispanics now. Maybe someone should clue the Karl Roves of the Republican party, the dirty-politics purveyors who were so in style back when their party was still relevant in presidential politics, that women make up slightly more than 50 percent of the country’s population, and Hispanics have surpassed blacks as the largest minority in the U.S.
Instead, Republican strategists have locked in on the one issue that means the most to them and their base: money. Since the John Roberts-led Supreme Court has essentially thrown out the rule book and said, “You guys want to buy your way back to prominence like the good old days, have at it,” a spending frenzy has already begun. It’s like potential GOP candidates are in a game of no-limit Texas hold-‘em — emphasis on the no limit — and they can’t see the cards for all the chips on the table.
“Now,” they reason, “with people like the Koch brothers free to give us all the money we want without having to try and circumvent all those silly spending limit rules, maybe we can buy up enough TV attack ads to really shut down Hillary Clinton or whomever else runs.”
Thing is, these folks dancing around with dollar signs in their eyes seem to forget that there are just as many millionaires and billionaires willing to give their money to Democrats, and Obama has tapped into a fundraising formula that surpasses anything the Kochs and their ilk are willing to throw at the so-far unelectable Republicans.
If the GOP would shake the dollar signs out of its eyes — and it wouldn’t hurt party members to remove their heads from their collective … well, let’s just say No Sunshinesville — the party might realize a few facts. Like: 1) There still may be more white people than any other single ethnic group in America right now, but so-called “minorities” actually outnumber whites collectively in the U.S. (Romney wasn’t too far off when he talked about that 47 percent that supported him, but he obviously over calculated his appeal among white voters.)
2) People, in general, care more about their shrinking income and the declining number of jobs than they do about the color of a candidate’s skin. 3) Holding the government in gridlock, waiting, as it were, for the cavalry to come with each successive election, is not a strategy that’s going to endear you with voters, except maybe the tea partiers. And if you think it’s tough to win an election with a 47 percent minority, try going at it with less than 20 percent.
I’m no political strategist, but I would think that, with the underwhelming job Obama has done during his tenure in the White House and with the country still trying to recover from the recession Obama inherited from his predecessor, the GOP would be wise to find a candidate who can broaden the party’s base. Maybe there’s someone out there who calls himself a Republican who’s a little more in tune with the 21st century, who actually wants to move past the status quo.
If such a person exists, I’d suggest Republicans get him front-and-center ASAP. If not, the capital D will remain beside the president’s name for the foreseeable future.