Republican anger and denial

Sen Jim DeMint (R-SC) speaks with reporters outside the Senate chamber 15 December 2010 Jim DeMint says he can do more for conservatism outside of the Senate

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Losing an election is much like bereavement for a political party and many Republicans are still going through the stages of anger and denial.

It could have been much worse for them. I had suspected that by now there would be civil war between centrists and conservatives. There have been some calls for what amounts to "Cameronisation".

But the debate is not yet dividing along those lines.

Indeed, some on the right have been among the first to grasp the nettle, trying to work out how the party can have broader appeal, beyond its white base.

Marco Rubio recently made a speech underlying his concern for the poor. Paul Ryan now sees the target group as the middle classes. Most Republicans believe they have to do more to persuade Hispanics to vote for them.

But it doesn't always come naturally.

Burns v Coulter

The Simpson's Mr Burns is a picture of empathy in this wonderful outtake, compared with commentator Ann Coulter.

In an extraordinary article entitled "el tipping pointo" she nearly, almost, suggests Republicans can never win again, but then pulls back from that conclusion. Her main observation is that Mr Romney won the white vote.

What is the fiscal cliff?

  • Under a deal reached last year between President Obama and the Republican-controlled Congress, existing stimulus measures - mostly tax cuts - will expire on 1 January 2013
  • Cuts to defence, education and other government spending will then automatically come into force - the "fiscal cliff" - unless Congress acts
  • The economy does not have the momentum to absorb the shock from going over the fiscal cliff without going into recession

But she says the problem is America has been transformed by a "deluge of unskilled immigrants", from the third-world, who far from upholding the American Dream, are bent on "having illegitimate children and going on welfare".

She says the trend of legal migration has to be reversed because "no amount of 'reaching out' to the Hispanic community, effective 'messaging' or Reagan's 'optimism' is going to turn Mexico's underclass into Republicans".

Three-quarters of the way through the article, one grows alarmed what her solution might be to deal with these wrong-headed Americans. But she doesn't have one, merely accepting that "Republicans have to do more than just win the white vote. They have to run the table."

Tighter immigration rules should be just the ticket, then.

Votes v principles

But amid the histrionics there is a point. Softer language is not the same as policies that will appeal to a specific group.

When a party tries to change itself, an early desire to look different can be abandoned when key supporters realise this means real changes.

Smart leaders, such as UK Prime Minister David Cameron and one of his predecessors, Tony Blair, embrace those battles as a symbol of their resolve to drag their party into new territory. Others will see this as chasing votes at the expense of principles.

Here in the States, immigration will be a very important touchstone. But so will the balance between social and economic issues.

Tea Party stalwart Jim DeMint, who has just resigned his Senate seat to become head of the Heritage Foundation, an important conservative think tank, will be an loud voice in all of this.

He has already been scathing about John Boehner's rather wooden proposals to reach a deal with President Obama over the fiscal cliff.

Mr DeMint also fought against George W Bush's proposals on immigration reform, and in 2010 repeated his belief that gays and people living together unmarried should not be allowed to be teachers.

Republicans have a long way to go before that final stage of bereavement: acceptance.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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  • rate this

    Comment number 378.

    So the GOP main messages are that they are against abortion, gay marriage, immigration, universal healthcare, against wealthier people paying more tax and hate anyone who isn't white, whilst spreading creationism and evangelical Christianity. The voting pool is wealthy, bigoted, Christian, straight, white and shrinking fast. Supporting those things makes the party seem toxic to normal people

  • rate this

    Comment number 377.

    Politics is a process. Lossing usually is more informative to the loser than the winner. The Republicans may have some learnng to do. The voters may also have some learning to do.

    I don't think the differences between the two parties are as significant as many think. It is not a static situation. The issues also change over time.

    I hope the Republican Party moves away from social issues.

  • rate this

    Comment number 376.

    @374. USSilentMajority
    373 robert thomas

    Telling the truth sometimes hurts, but twisting it around and blaming others has been an Obamanation following for many, the last 4 years.
    While I think all politicians are low life liars, It seems that the denial of Science in Preference of Religion, to name but one example of an untruth, Is wholly the domain of the GOP

  • rate this

    Comment number 375.

    Ethan Farber

    Were you to try work to defend Albert’s post @149 about “evil or insane in the writings of Ayn Rand", in which work would you begin? Night of January 16th? The Fountainhead? Atlas Shrugged?

    Rand’s positions may be reasonably criticized, but where in her works do you read that she was either evil or insane? That was, after all, Albert's position @149. I’m intrigued.

  • rate this

    Comment number 374.

    373 robert thomas

    Telling the truth sometimes hurts, but twisting it around and blaming others has been an Obamanation following for many, the last 4 years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    The Republicans have painted themselves into a suicidal corner with their positions on taxes, immigration, women's issues etc... I find it hard to see how they could change their positions to appease the very people they literally insulted and alienated in the past, without a whole-hearted apology to start with. And we all know that is not forthcoming.

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    Hey...Some of these people posting, just work for the government and those that don't get government handouts or are first in line for grant money.
    So of course they want it to continue.

    Personally, I'm hoping for the cliff, to start with. Then maybe the government will have to thin out the ranks of these privileged Americans who live on the backs of working "Americans".

  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    @184. Ethan Farber

    “ ’... I am familiar with Rand’s publications.’

    Yep. He says he knows what he talks about …”

    In the case of your attempt @164 by an inaccurate generalization of Rand’s work to defend Albert’s post @149 about “evil or insane in the writings of Ayn Rand", I am familiar with the material, although neither you nor Albert seem to be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 370.

    There's a line attributed to Brecht, based on what an East German communist said – something like ‘the people no longer support the government – there will have to be a change of people’

    The people no longer support the Republican Party – there will have to be a change of people...

    (As M Mardell said – ‘Republican anger and denial’...)

  • rate this

    Comment number 369.

    Re. 367:

    There's nothing wrong with standing up for what you believe in, it's a virtue.

    The denial enters when people fail to question what they believe in, or willfully evade evidence that may contradict those beliefs.

  • Comment number 368.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 367.

    ref #364 How we in denial. We are not disputing that Obama won.

    But we have the right to fight policies that will bebefit the majority of working Americans.
    What is wrong for standing up what you believe in.
    And it is not denial to believe that most americans did not vote wisely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 366.

    #310--I like Davidinusa! He understands by virtue of using the written word and following the Goebbels method; "anyone" with a Forum could persuade the masses to vote for Donald Duck.

  • rate this

    Comment number 365.

    360. DavidinUSA
    In the long run, poor education will destroy the US’ physical & intellectual capital, Russia- or Argentina-style. And then, there’ll be no way back.
    So then Obviously all Health and Education should be:
    Charity for a few of those many who cannot afford it
    Privilege for all of those few who can.
    What better way to control the masses than keep them stupid and afraid

  • rate this

    Comment number 364.

    The Republican comments on this thread display denial in spades. So be it.

    One silver lining as we go forward, may be the increased public awareness of the role congress plays in policy and the need for our off-year electoral participation to encourage our government's representation of our interests. When we can't afford K St., we definitely can't afford to waste our franchise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    360 DavidinUSA Obama was elected by the poorly educated majority

    ‘In a 2005 survey, nearly 72% of full-time faculty members identified as liberal, while 15% identified as conservative.’

    ‘...Republicans and Democrats are represented equally amongst college educated voters and Democrats hold a majority of post-graduate educated voters.’

  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    Yet again there is nowhere on the Europe page where one can comment on the nauseating goings-on in the so-called "EU". There appears to have been a seven hour window of opportunity to comment on the "EU"s diplomatic service

    It is so bad that it must be part of a deliberate policy of trying to prevent criticism and protest

    It won't work. The "EU" is such load of rubbish that people will ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 361.


    A gender- & colour-blind system with gives additional votes for those aged over 40; property owners; literate people; taxpayers; & for those with children is as much a democracy as a crude system of 1 vote for everyone over 18. It would weigh votes towards those with a bigger stake in society & to the educated.

    Maybe the US needs this to avoid sinking further into “kakocracy”.

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    Obama was elected by the poorly educated majority. Perhaps Dem policies of mediocre state schools makes sense – these factories of delinquency add to the uneducated masses, susceptible to the rabble-rousing rhetoric at which Obama excels.

    In the long run, poor education will destroy the US’ physical & intellectual capital, Russia- or Argentina-style. And then, there’ll be no way back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.

    357. DavidinUSA
    6 MINS AGO

    What a beautiful orderly world you design
    The elite being catered to by Walmart greeters, who's lot in life is already set.
    In India (if you knew anything) they had Caste System which dictated who you can marry and what job you can get
    That has finally broken down and millions have entered the middle class since
    The Restriction is still Education and who can afford it


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