Unlike many of his fellow Republicans, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has refused to give up on his party’s wildly unsuccessful plan to reach out to women, minorities, and other voters who have been scared off by the GOP’s increasingly far-right policies and rhetoric.
“We need to be a more diverse party if we’re ever going to win again. We need people with tattoos, ponytails and earrings,” Paul said in late 2013. “The Democratic Party is more diverse than we are. We lose all the big cities. We have to change or we won’t win nationally again.”
“We need a different kind of party,” he explained in a March event at the University of California, Berkeley. He added that the GOP must “either evolve, adapt, or die.”
The freshman senator is certainly right that the GOP needs to become more inclusive if it hopes to compete in national elections as the older, whiter voters on whom it relies form a smaller and smaller portion of the electorate. But if he really wants to help his party evolve, perhaps he should stop doing events with candidates who don’t believe in evolution.
On Tuesday, Senator Paul joined a conference call with Bishop E.W. Jackson, the failed Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia in 2013. It was, to put it midly, unlikely to help the GOP’s outreach drive.
Jackson is one of highest-profile black Republicans to emerge from the past several election cycles — but it wasn’t for the reasons that his party might prefer. Instead, Jackson has become notorious for a string of comments that make his former running mate, Ken Cuccinelli, seem downright moderate by comparison. Among other statements, Jackson:
- Blasted Democrats for creating an “unholy alliance” with Planned Parenthood, which he claims “has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was.”
- Compared abortion and in-vitro fertilization to Hitler and Stalin.
- Insisted that the American Civil Liberties Union is governed by a “demonic power.”
- Lamented that Democrats have “an agenda worthy of the Antichrist.”
- Warned that doing yoga leaves people vulnerable to Satanic possession.
And that barely scratches the surface of Jackson’s extremism.
Still, Paul was happy to appear with the right-wing bishop on Tuesday afternoon. During the call, organized by Jackson’s STAND group, the senator mainly offered routine statements on topics like border security and reaching out to African-American voters, although he did gamely deflect one more extreme question. When a caller asked Paul if homosexuality is “an illness,” Paul responded, “I don’t think that there’s really a role for the federal government in deciding what people’s behavior at home should be one way or another.” (Jackson, for his part, later claimed that the caller who asked the question may have been a liberal plant.)
There was no containing Jackson himself, however; his remarks on the call were a prime example of how the GOP scares off the type of voters that Paul insists he wants to attract. After the senator left the call, Jackson claimed that liberals “want to destroy us,” and termed the upcoming elections as “a fight for our very lives, for our very survival.”
He also shared his views on the deal to free captured American soldier Bowe Bergdahl, suggesting that President Obama’s “Muslim sensibilities” contributed to his decision making. In case that wasn’t clear enough, he also added that there is “something intrinsic to Islamic thinking and teaching” that leads to “worldwide violence.”
Surely minorities will rally to the GOP cause as soon as they realize that President Obama — who won 93 percent of the black vote and 71 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012 — is a secret Muslim, and therefore a threat to the entire world.
Of course, it’s possible that Jackson and Paul actually believe that this type of rhetoric will help the outreach effort. After all, that’s exactly what Jackson predicted before the last election.
Photo: Mark Taylor via Flickr
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