Don’t Let Rand Paul Speak for the GOP

May 25th, 2010 at 11:34 pm | 25 Comments |

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Now that Kentucky Republicans have bestowed their Senate nomination upon Rand Paul, generic the Party has evinced on a national stage just how perilously—and perhaps irrevocably—it risks alienating an entire generation of voters.

Full disclosure: I am not only a registered Republican but an ethnic minority – black if you’re wondering – an unfortunately increasingly rare paradox. What seems absurdly beyond the grasp of today’s Republicans is the volatility of our current political alignment. Democrats giddily presaged “permanent” voter realignment in the wake of Barack Obama’s 2008 victories in states such as Virginia and North Carolina, doctor a vision obviously and demonstrably premature.

Left unspoken following those results was its logical inverse: If blue collar white voters were willing to break ranks with the GOP, then surely an appealing message could one day break the Democrats’ stranglehold on minority voters. That Rand Paul could offer only qualified support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is astonishing for any candidate in the year 2010, and evidence of a continually unserious approach to expanding the Party’s base. The Republicans’ more regionalist members delude themselves that any censure of the Party’s southern history stems from a sort of familial embarrassment, a desire to ingratiate amongst the “coastal elites”. If whistles have lyrics, such is the song heard passing the graveyard.

Coming on the heels of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s inaugural Confederate History Month, the controversy resulting from Rand Paul’s Republican nomination evinces an unfortunate pattern. It matters not whether Paul himself is a racist in his innermost personal beliefs; the reality is a party consistently stumbling over some racially disastrous P.R. Does this sound descriptive of arms opening to a new generation of young minorities?

Given the Party’s current lack of national leadership, the task of responding to Paul’s remarks fell to Sarah Palin, who blasted ubiquitous “gotcha” journalism rather than the comments themselves. Compare this to then-President Bush’s condemnation of Trent Lott’s allusion of sympathy toward Strom Thurmond’s segregationist platform in 2002:

Recent comments by Senator Lott do not reflect the spirit of our country… He has apologized and rightly so. Every day that our nation was segregated was a day our nation was unfaithful to our founding ideals.

Lacking an unqualified rebuke of Rand Paul’s tone deaf equivocating, optimistic predictions for a Republican resurgence this fall could themselves prove premature; the wilderness from which the Party seemed poised to emerge could unfortunately become an increasingly familiar home.

Recent Posts by Corey Chambliss

25 Comments so far ↓

  • Chekote

    YUP! I am afraid the it will take losing two more election cycles before the GOP gets the message.

  • Slide

    Not much chance of them “losing” this election. They will pick up seats as every out of power party does during the mid-terms, but I don’t believe they are going to win as many seats as they (or our bloviating pundit class) had hoped.

    They have to field actual candidates to win elections. And if they are going to put up these teabagger candidates they are going to have a harder time winning over those very important independents. We are seeing teabagger candidates imploding all over the place and it’s only May. They are not ready for prime time. They have no experience. And many of them have views, like Rand Paul, that are way out of the mainstream.

    And probably the worst attribute of the teabagger candidate is that they don’t know they are out of the mainstream. They have been talking into the right wing echo chamber for so long without ever actually having to defend their positions. I think Rand Paul was amazingly truly surprised by the reaction to his position on the Civil Rights Act. Should be fun to watch.

  • BoolaBoola

    I bet Rand Paul will win. This is Kentucky, right?

    Is he a crazy right-to-lifer like his dad?

  • BoolaBoola

    UPDATE: According to his web site he’s “100% pro-life”. That’s totally inconsistent with libertarian principles. No libertarian can support government legislating what happens inside someone’s body.

    If “Libertarian” doesn’t mean pro-choice on abortion, it doesn’t mean anything.

  • BoolaBoola

    Once upon a time, I was enthusiastic about the Libertarian Party. Now it’s been taken over by the crazy right, just like Ross Perot’s Reform Party.

  • TerryF98

    “it risks alienating an entire generation of voters.”

    Far too late with this, the GOP has already alienated a generation of voters.

  • ottovbvs

    TerryF98 // May 26, 2010 at 6:15 am

    “it risks alienating an entire generation of voters.”

    “Far too late with this, the GOP has already alienated a generation of voters.”

    …….too true….this cow is already out of the barn……but the nomination of Paul and other nut cases just make sure no one forgets the reason why……..the mystery surely is why in heavens name is Chambliss still a member of a party that he acknowledges has strong undertones of racism…..he’s either confused or a masochist

  • sdm

    I hope that the cave you just crawled out of was comfy. The GOP is not in danger of losing the next generation of minority voters. It has already lost it fair and square.

    Move along, folks, nothing to see here.

  • CO Independent

    Corey, you have a political science degree so you should know that black voters in America have consistently voted for Democrats at rates of 90%-95%. Under the Bush administration the GOP spent like crazy trying to court black voters and it failed miserably. (Ditto for Hispanic and Jewish voters). The sad fact is that, on a statistical level, black voters are monolithic. This is a textbook case of a lost cause.

    Moreover, it is perfectly rational for the GOP to disregard black voters. There are approximately 40 million African Americans in the country. Just to make the math easy, let’s say 30 million are of age to vote and that 20 million are likely voters in the Rasmussen sense. Even if the GOP moves the needle by 10% that only gets them 2 million new voters. Meanwhile, there are approximately 240 million Caucasians in the country. Applying the same algebra yields approximately 120 million voters. Moving the Republican party to the left to attract black voters could easily cost the party more votes than it gains in black votes.

    Rand Paul’s comments were stupid and unfortunate, but they are meaningless in an electoral sense. Black voters will continue to vote for Democrats at a 90%-95% level. In short, on a statistical level black voters will not be part of the base of the Republican party. Sadly, the same can be said for Hispanics and Jewish voters. Your implication that a surge in minorities voting for Republicans might somehow tip the scales for Republicans is not serious.

    Racial politics are the kiss of death for the Republican party–it cannot beat Democrats in the game of racial politics. The Republican party wins when it transcends race, adopts genuinely conservative principles and promotes candidates who adhere to them: individual rights, limited government, strong defense, low taxes, pro-business–a better and stronger America for all Americans.

    Obama’s victory in 2008 has been attributed largely to record turnout among African American and Hispanic voters. This will be hard to duplicate in 2012 as African Americans and Hispanics confront the reality that their economic circumstances became much, much worse under Obama than under Bush. The white vote was split 43% for Obama, 57% for McCain, and independents split fairly evenly. If you believe the polls, Obama has now lost the support of independents by wide margins. If this trend holds then Obama is probably unelectable in 2012. At least we can hope.

  • medinnus

    Honestly, I think Rand is far enough from mainstream GOP that they won’t suffer much from the people who might vote for them anyways; I think the only people who will be broadly alienated from the GOP over this issue already vote democratic. Centrists and Independents know the difference between Paul and the mainstream GOP.

  • DFL

    medinnus is absolutely correct. Paul’s lurch into the truth has caused a media buzz that will hurt him in the polls. Yet most of the conservative vote in Kentucky live their private lives not much different than they lived them in pre-1964 Kentucky. As for the black vote and Republicans, the Republicans will never win much more than a scattering of black businessmen and intellectuals. Why? Most importantly, blacks do not see big government as the enemy the way Republicans do. Secondly, blacks Americans are alienated from the cultural core of America due to their unique history. Thirdly, with an illegitimacy rate of 72 %, blacks are alientated from the whitebread lifestyles idealized by Republicans. Raising their vote totals with whites by one-quarter of a percent will help Republicans electorally more than trying to appease blacks. It is time for Republicans to go to the picture of Jack Kemp on their living room wall and take it down.

  • FSFitzgerald

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting a lurch to the left to appease minority voters. It’s the blindness to the fact that these types of discussions further a perception problem that needs to be corrected.

  • blowtorch_bob

    Oh dear oh dear oh dear oh dear. Seems to me a messy case of that dreaded “d-word” has broken out in the GOP. Symptoms include instances where the herds are no longer willing to follow or respond to tried and true recipies.

    Most notably, in the recent GOP runoff in Kentucky the opponents of Rand Paul (who wants out of A’stan and Iraq, etc) charged he was “soft on defense”, a weapon that is normally reserved for Democrats.

  • Smarg

    You lefties don’t get it. We don’t care what the Obama-voters think. Paul is just being demonized by the MSM, as expected. Millions upon millions of fatherless welfare children have destroyed public schools, cities, and now, states are starting to collapse under their parasitic weight.

    November 2010. Word.

  • Bebe99

    The GOP has always had a southern strategy. It is no secret that the GOP and its governing body–Fox News are all about white- christian culture and people. With the AZ immigration bill-who could question that racism isn’t a big part of the GOP appeal? The Tea Party candidates just bring it out in the open more.

  • Slide

    I think smarg is being paid by the Democratic party.

  • LFC

    CO Independent said… Obama’s victory in 2008 has been attributed largely to record turnout among African American and Hispanic voters. This will be hard to duplicate in 2012 as African Americans and Hispanics confront the reality that their economic circumstances became much, much worse under Obama than under Bush.

    Are you joking? Do you really think that Obama is to blame for the current economic circumstances? The recent CBO report on his stimulus shows that he pulled us back from the precipice of the Bush Bust. How will the GOP candidate campaign against that? By saying we shouldn’t have done anything? By saying, yet again, “MORE TAX CUTS!”? The Obama campaign ads write themselves.

  • CO Independent

    >> Are you joking?

    >> Do you really think that Obama is to blame for the current economic circumstances?
    I did not say that. But I seem to recall a Presidential motto that stated “the buck stops here.” Americans are already tired of hearing “it’s Bush’s fault” from the Obama administration. Every day that statement becomes less and less credible. Obama will be a laughingstock if he is still trying to blame Bush in 2012.

    >> The recent CBO report on his stimulus shows that he pulled us back from the precipice of the Bush Bust. How will the GOP candidate campaign against that? By saying we shouldn’t have done anything? By saying, yet again, “MORE TAX CUTS!”?
    I haven’t read the CBO report, so I won’t comment on its contents. I will say this: Democrats are starting to look and feel like the Soviet Politburo on matters economic, spewing forth from BLS reports good news that nobody west of the Potomac believes. They are losing what little credibility they had.

    Meanwhile Obama and his minions are printing and spending money at a rate that makes Bush look positively thrifty, which is not an easy accomplishment. The objective, non-partisan reality is that in 2012 the U3 unemployment rate will still hover near 10%, the U6 rate will still hover near 20%, and national debt will likely be between $16 trillion and $17 trillion. That will be Obama’s economic record–Greek level debts and deficit spending and nothing to show for it. Good luck pitching that. Bush barely got reelected in2004 with a 5% unemployment rate and a $7.5 trillion dollar debt.

    >> The Obama campaign ads write themselves.
    Yeah, let’s hear them.

  • ottovbvs

    CO Independent // May 26, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    “Americans are already tired of hearing “it’s Bush’s fault” from the Obama administration. ”

    ………Well it was and the vast majority of Americans (around 64% according to polls) are quite clear about it!

    “I haven’t read the CBO report, so I won’t comment on its contents. I will say this: Democrats are starting to look and feel like the Soviet Politburo on matters economic, spewing forth from BLS reports good news that nobody west of the Potomac believes. They are losing what little credibility they had.’

    …….I haven’t read the positive conclusions of the non partisan independant CBO but I will clearly state my opinion that the Democrats are communists………such is the intellectual horsepower we get from Republican self proclaimed economic experts like CO Independant

  • medinnus

    “You lefties don’t get it. We don’t care what the Obama-voters think.”

    The irony is that the Obama-voters – by definition – were enough of the Left, the the Center-Right (Conservatives alienated by NeoCons and the Religious Reich), and the Independents to elect a President. So, if the GOP doesn’t care what “Obama-voters” think, aren’t they essentially excluding a majority of the population of sufficient size to win control of Congress and the White House?

    So much for democracy, eh?

  • connor25

    CO Independent, I have to disagree with you on black voters. The vote wasn’t always monolithic for Democrats until the 60′s. The Democrats got the majority in the 30′s due to the New Deal and it showed it helped blacks. Blacks needed the government to help them out in those times of segregation, that’s why conservatism never appealed to them. (Before that, it was GOP or nothing)
    The GOP got 30-40% from that time until the 60′s where they decided to court white Southerners based on resentment of the civil rights movement starting with Goldwater and then by Nixon and other presidents with the Southern Strategy. This is why you rarely see a Black Republican or a non-white Republican or conservative in Congress or the Senate. Blacks don’t feel like they have a choice when they vote especially when the GOP has had people like Jesse Helms, Audra Shay, Katon Dawson and other characters in there that’s why it’s been 90% Democratic. By writing them off, you have just told them “We don’t give a shit about you, go fuck off”. I understand where you’re coming off with numbers on why it’s rational to write off ethnic groups for the majority, but the Democrats will continue to take them for granted with Obama’s historical victory and no one will compete for black voters. They really feel they have no choice. It’s the GOP’s own fault for making black voters vote monolithic ally Democrat every presidential election.

    FSFitzgerald, the party does not need to become the left-wing party in order to appeal to non-whites, just reach out to them and show an alternative. I’ve read about various Republicans (from liberal to moderate to conservative) who won the majority or significant percentages of minority voters just by showing up and reaching out. Look at the examples of Republicans like Arnold in California, Tom Kean Sr in New Jersey, Kay Bailey Hutchinson in Texas, and plenty others. I’ve learned about this through my own research. But I’m sure those Republicans I mentioned are RINO’s because they’re not into ideological purity and are mostly fiscally conservative socially moderate GOPers.

    There was a book by Earl Ofari Hutchinson that discussed the relationship between the modern GOP and Black America from the 60′s to present day around the mid 2000′s if I remember correctly. He states that the party understands they need their votes (but I think it also applies to other groups), but they ultimately fear alienating their base which was white voters and Southern whites. Last time I checked, the GOP base is alive but shrinking. This is a crossroads for the Republican Party.

    I talked with conservatives on this issue of reaching out and they see it as equivalent to becoming a Democrat in principles. It’s like as if I committed some type of heresy in conservative thought. I’m not saying all conservatives are like this, but some realized the importance of reaching out like Jack Kemp, George W Bush and even Ronald Reagan knew that (Remember how he said Hispanics were Republicans, they just didn’t know it yet, he’s spinning in his grave over the immigration mess the party got itself into).

    If there’s one thing the GOP needs to change, it’s it image on race especially in this century. It’s terrible and doesn’t really reflect the demographics of this country today. As the demographics shift, it’s not looking favorable for the Republicans. Change or be extinct.

    In regards to Rand Paul, the GOP now has a bigger struggle to reach out to younger minority voters. I’m thinking the Republicans will have to go through an exile like the Conservatives in Canada and Britain did.

    The GOP never had to get the majority of minority voters, just significant percentages in order to win national elections.

    Anyways, just my two cents on this subject.

  • CO Independent

    Connor25, thanks for the reasoned and informed response. I understand the historical perspective and and agree with much of what you wrote. My responses are as follows:

    1. The history is nice, but ultimately not relevant. African Americans have been a monolithic Democratic voting block for 40 years. You have to be 18 to vote. Thus, there are no African Americans under 58 who have any conception of the African American community as anything other than a monolithic Democratic voting block. The average life span of an African American is 70 years. In twelve years that statement will apply to all African Americans, at least on a statistical basis. Democrats own them.

    2. I don’t disagree with you about reaching out, but as I wrote in my original post the Republican party spent wads of dough on outreach programs during the Bush administration. It failed. Miserably. Ditto with the Hispanic and Jewish outreach programs. (The director of the Jewish outreach program published an article admitting that the Jewish outreach program was a failure and a waste of resources.) In a world of limited resources, it makes perfect sense for the Republican party to write off African American voters.

    3. I sometimes think that Frummie-type “moderate” Republicans who advocate outreach condescend minority voters by discounting the importance of policy. The African American community suffers from a terrible crisis of poverty: over 70% of babies are born out of wedlock, 90% of African American children receive food stamps at some point in their childhood, and 25% of African American households receive food stamps at any point in time. The U3 unemployment rate for African Americans is approximately 17%. The Democratic party stands at the ready to play sugar daddy, offering more and more government benefits. This is what biologists call a symbiotic relationship. In this context, what specific policy options does the Republican party have to offer this community? (That is, without requiring the party to sell its soul and become Democrat-lite.) If you’ve got answers, I’m all ears.

    4. Reagan was right that Hispanics are natural Republicans, that is until Democrats entice them into the welfare state. I can see lots of specific policies that are beneficial to the Hispanic community and consistent with Republican principles.

    5. I don’t understand what you mean by the “immigration mess” the Republican party got itself into.

    6. As I said in my original post, to be successful the GOP needs to transcend race. The federal government exists to protect individual rights, not group rights. If you want a federal government that divides the country by race or ethnicity and allocates political capital accordingly, by all means please join the Democratic party. Your paragraph about changing demographics baffles me. How would you propose the Republican part change, again without selling their soul and becoming Democrats?

    7. I believe current polling contradicts your “Republicans in Exile” thesis. Republicans stand to make large gains in both houses in 2010. (And there are 32 African Americans running for Congress as Republicans!). As I said in my original post, Obama has lost the support of independent voters already, and we’re less than two years into his presidency. By any historical precedent Obama will be unelectable in 2012 (unless the Republicans go insane and nominate Palin). By 2012 Republicans could easily be back in control of both Congress and the Executive branch. I don’t know how this translates into some form of political exile?

  • connor25

    I see I’m going to enjoy this little sparring match with you CO Independent. Here are my points from your counter-points.

    1. History is relevant here, when Goldwater was nominated, the Democrats used his voting against the 1964 CRA to smear him as a bigot. His action was anathema to black voters. When the racial code words in the Southern Strategy were used, it alienated that generation of black voters and made them feel the GOP is against them. It passed down to the generations. As they say, those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it. As I said, black voters don’t feel they have a choice. Remember how John Kerry told the Congressional Black Caucus Bush would re institute segregation if re-elected and Bush was quiet? You ignored the history part and said they’re all just a bunch of monolithic voters by citing facts about the black community that a center-right party should address. The Conservatives in the UK did their Shoestring Manifesto. I showed why they have been a monolithic ally Democrat voting block. With that type of thinking you have, you just showed ignorance of history and insulted the black community.

    2. Bush’s outreach failed because of his screw-ups (he did have good parts as well). With blacks, he was screwed from the beginning by not signing the hate crime law in 2000 and the 2000 election fiasco made him look like he hated blacks by having his brother supposedly disenfranchise black voters. His black support bumped up due to appealing to them with social conservative issues, but was gone due to Katrina and later in 2006, there was a study showing Republicans showed more hostility to pictures of blacks than Democrats did. The same year, Democrats won Congress and the Senate and put blacks in high positions in Congress. In 2008, it was Obama.

    In regards to Hispanics, he managed to win at least 40% of Hispanic votes just by speaking Spanish. When some GOPers like Tom Tancredo (who also thought literacy tests should be needed for voting) went nuts and nativist in Congress over his immigration reform, there were some nasty words which made the GOP lose much face with Hispanics.

    With Jewish voters, they’ve always voted for the liberal party because they are liberal. When the GOP was liberal, it got the majority of Jewish voters. Most Jews in America are Reform Jews which are the more liberal type. More conservative Jews like Orthodox and Conservative tend to vote GOP.

    3. Actually, Moderate Republicans get significant percentages or the majority of minority voters and can win in blue states (I.E Charles Mathias a Republican senator in Maryland, a blue state always got significant black support from what I heard from someone who researched him that lived in Maryland). The Democrat-lite argument you put out is a lame excuse which translates to “We don’t feel like courting you because we’d look like our opponent”. Republicans just have to show why Democratic policies hurt them and show why it would benefit them. It’s called appealing. You can’t run a Nancy Pelosi in Pennsylvania, but rather Blue Dog Democrats. You can’t run Rick Santorum in California so you need someone like Arnold. One size party ideology does not fit all.

    If it means becoming Democrats, tell me:

    How did Tom Kean Sr win 60% of black votes in New Jersey in his re-election in the 80′s?
    How did Arnold in California win 64% of the Asian-American voter and received 40% of Latino voters while also getting close to 30% of black voters in his re-election?
    How does George Voinovich win around 30% of black voters in his Senate elections
    How did Kay Bailey Hutchinson win 20% of black voters when she runs for the Senate?

    4. I agree with you to the last sentence. The GOP never really tried to bring a center-right alternative to welfare until the 90′s with welfare reform.

    5. Remember the debates on immigration reform from 2005 to 2007 and how some Republicans got nasty? Bush’s plan wasn’t amnesty, it provided a clear path to citizenship and would’ve saved the GOP in future elections. Immigration isn’t an easy things; it can’t be solved by amnesty neither by deporting all illegal immigrants back home.

    6. Again, the becoming Democrat phrase is common amongst conservatives. Do you really believe that? It’s only in your head that reaching out to people who don’t normally vote for you equates being the opposite party. It’s like you’re saying only certain people should be Republicans and certain people should be Democrats.

    Why is it that if race doesn’t matter, why I do see mostly white people in conservative parties here in America? The Conservatives in Canada and Britain are conservative, but they also embraced diversity.

    7. Let’s see why Obama could win in 2012. There are many factors, I know independents are miffed at him but if the GOP nominates Palin, it’s a Reagan style landslide for him. If the GOP keeps moving to the right and pleasing only the base, you lose the moderates. I could think of other things, but now I’m too tired to think of anything.

    Food for thought CO

  • connor25

    Oops, I meant how did Arnold win 64% of Asian-American voters?