Saturday, January 25, 2014

Far-Right Voices Threaten GOP Chances

Mike Huckabee

By Clavell Jackson

The Republicans last loss in a national election caused much soul searching. RNC chair Reince Preibus even ordered a post mortem on the GOP to learn what went wrong. The post mortem showed that the GOP needed to be more open to an increasingly diverse nation to stay competitive. As Sen. Lindsay Graham said, "We are not generating enough angry white guys." However it seems that the GOP has learned nothing from its internal review. Judging by recent comments from right-wing politicians and commentators nothing has changed. The GOP is still as anti woman, anti gay and anti minority as ever. 

Here are just a few of recent off-color comments: 

• Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee recently said Democrats are trying to convince women that they need the government to help them control their libido. He also accused single mothers of looking to Uncle Sugar (Uncle Sam) when they get pregnant. 
• Susanne Atanus, a Republican congressional candidate in Chicago, said autism and dementia are God's punishments for gay rights and abortion. She also blamed natural disasters, such as tornadoes, on gays.
 • Back in 2006 Chris McDaniel, now a Mississippi candidate for U.S. Senate, complained about the lack of Muslim villains in Hollywood movies. McDaniel has also warned against the "homosexual agenda." 
• Dave Agema, a member of the Michigan Republican National Committee, is facing calls to resigns after he praised Russia's anti-gay laws and also said, "Have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life?" 

As outlandish as these comments are, they are not unusual for the GOP. Right Wing Watch daily tracks whacky comments from conservatives and AlterNet publishes a weekly top 10 of outrageous conservative statements. And these days there is plenty of material. It seems as if the GOP has not learned any lessons from the excruciating 2012 primary season which featured a rogue's gallery of outspoken candidates such as the loopy Rep. Michelle Bachmann, and the sadly comical Herman Cain. While these off-color comments are great for publicity, they do not help in building consensus. 

And apparently this problem won't go away. The Republican Party is currently undergoing a civil war between the moderates and the far-right tea party wing. If the tea party wins the war, they will pull the party even further to the right. This might be good for party purity, but it won't win national elections. The debacles of Sharon Angle and Christine O'Donnell, tea party candidates who lost to Democrats, have proved that. 

However 2016 is already looking dire for the GOP. With the Democrats, lining up behind a strong Hillary Clinton campaign and Chris Christie weighed down by the Bridgegate scandal, Republicans are looking at candidates such as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, who both have their own set of questionable views. (Sen. John McCain described some of Paul's views as kooky.) 

The GOP ought to know that the women's vote, minority vote and gay vote are essential to winning national elections. I don't know where they expect to go with such far-right voices. If the GOP wants to keep winning elections they are going to have to find a way to reign in the tea party voices and produce saner candidates. If not, it looks like there will be Democratic wins in 2014 and 2016.