Hearing so much chatter about “change” in the Republican Party, the innocent voter might believe that the Republicans had learned important lessons from their stinging electoral defeat. On closer examination, however, the likelihood of real change appears nil, because the party’s leaders and thinkers can cite so many excuses to remain utterly the same.
At the Republican Governors Association conference last week, for instance, the favored explanation for the voting public’s emphatic rejection of Mitt Romney had nothing to do with issues or ideology, but only with more effective Democratic Party organizing and communicating. According to Wade Goodwyn, the National Public Radio reporter who covered the GOP governors’ meeting, their post-election mood was not one of shock, but complacency.
“It was widely agreed that nothing needed to be changed except perhaps the tone,” he found. “For example, the idea that more than 70 percent of Hispanics voted for the president because of Republican positions on illegal immigration was rejected by the Republican governors.”
That would be hard to believe if Goodwyn were not such an excellent and experienced journalist, because it is so stupid, so insulting, and makes so little sense. Could it really be true that the nation’s Republican governors — one of whom is quite likely to be the party’s next presidential nominee — are so obtuse and so obstinate that they would reject change even on immigration?
Republican leaders also seem inclined to ignore voter sentiment on the issue of taxes, despite majorities of 70 percent or better that agree the rich should pay more (including many voters who identify with the GOP). Rep. Mike Pence, who will become the governor of Indiana next January, told the Republican governors that he remains firmly opposed any tax increase, especially on “those in the best position to put hurting Americans back to work,” which is GOP code for mega-millionaires and above.
Clearly the Republicans in Congress too feel free to ignore public opinion on this question, since Speaker John Boehner and his caucus have offered a “compromise” on fiscal policy that represents no change whatsoever from their earlier positions and the Romney platform. Government can accrue fresh revenues from growth, they say; nothing new or even meaningful there. And government can close unspecified loopholes and deductions to increase revenues, too. Where have we heard that before?
Meanwhile, the consulting geniuses who predicted a Romney victory — a landslide, even! — are peddling alibis about why their party lost despite billions spent. Fox News expert Dick Morris says it is because their voter machinery failed, the Romney campaign didn’t fight back, and Hurricane Sandy persuaded all of the undecided voters to back Barack Obama.