5 Ways The GOP Refuses To Learn From History


It’s not entirely their fault.

The 2014 map looks as if it were designed to make sure the GOP does not change. With a House majority they maintained in 2012 even though they won 1.4 million fewer votes than Democrats and as many as 11 chances to pick up the six Senate seats they’d need to control the upper house, Republicans are almost guaranteed to make gains in November.

Yet they “could make those gains without addressing any of the cultural barriers that confront them in presidential contests, which draw a larger, younger, and more diverse electorate,” the National Journal‘s Ron Brownstein wrote.

Again and again, Republicans continue to repeat the mistakes that cost them the 2012 election and could cost them again in 2016 — if Democrats can deploy the remarkable coalition that President Obama has mobilized in the last two presidential elections.

Here are five ways the GOP is showing it refuses to learn from its mistakes.

The Bush Family

George W. Bush

Liz Cheney’s foolish attempt to primary a conservative U.S. senator in Wyoming crashed and burned in just a few months. But the Bush family is still riding high in Republican politics.

George P. Bush won the GOP nomination in Texas for Land Commissioner on Tuesday, which is clearly a stepping stone for higher political office. And Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, is being talked about as the business community’s replacement for scandal-ridden Chris Christie.

“If Jeb Bush is in the race, he clears the field,” one major Mitt Romney donor recently toldTheWashington Post.

Jeb was the only Bush who actually showed up at the last Republican National Convention. His support of “Common Core” educational standards has made him an enemy of the Tea Party movement and his last name is synonymous with disastrous wars and economic disaster, with more Americans still blaming his brother for the problems with the economy than President Obama, even five years after George W. left office.

But for a party that hasn’t won without a Bush on the ballot since 1972, old habits refuse to die.


John Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) doesn’t want to let immigration reform die.

But he will not put the Senate bill up for a vote — though it would likely pass — because he knows it would pass and cost him his speakership. So every few weeks he kills the idea that reform can happen because of #OBUMMER, as The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent says. Then he resuscitates it, presumably after talking to a large Republican donor like the Chamber of Commerce that knows reform is the best hope of the next GOP nominee to get a larger share of the Latino vote than Mitt Romney, who got a smaller share than John McCain, who got a much smaller share than George W. Bush.

House Democrats are now using a discharge petition, hoping to force a vote on the Senate bill. It will never happen. But it will make the case that Republicans are preventing reform and provide the president cover if he decides to answer activists’ calls to stop deporting undocumented immigrants for minor crimes.

If the president does make that decision, instead of campaigning on their role in reform, Republicans will spend the 2016 election calling for more deportations.

AFP Photo/Jim Watson

Minimum Wage

President Obama signs order on federal minimum wage hike - DC

Republicans historically gave in on raising the minimum wage when they recognized it would be an effective campaign issue — until 2006.

As scandals and the Iraq War exploded around them, Republicans let Democrats run on raising the lowest amount that can legally be paid to most workers. And were crushed.

This year, voters overwhelmingly support raising the wage. In fact, it’s the issue that polls show is most likely to sway their votes.

But Boehner probably won’t even let it come up for a vote. Even in 2014, this is an issue that could cost Republicans some seats.

Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT

Another Ryan Budget

Paul Ryan

Thanks to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) most members of the House Republican caucus have voted to privatize both Medicare and Social Security — programs that 89 percent of Americans think are great deals.

Ryan’s next budget is likely to contain the cuts to Medicare Advantage that Republicans have been campaigning against since 2010. Republicans defend themselves by saying they put the cuts back into Medicare while President Obama uses them to fund the Affordable Care Act, which includes a program that helps millions of seniors afford prescription medication.

Five years into Obama’s presidency, the deficit is already projected to be lower than it was due to the draconian cuts in Ryan’s first budget in 2011 — though most Republicans think it’s growing. The combination of economic growth, Republican-backed cuts and the end of some of the Bush tax cuts for the rich have proven more effective than Ryan’s mission to gut safety net programs. However, Republicans have shown their hand and voted against programs Americans love.

And if the former vice-presidential nominee gets his way, they’ll do it again.

Photo: Speaker Boehner via Flickr

John McCain Being John McCain

John McCain on NBC News

John McCain (R-AZ) is one of the most unpopular senators in the country. Tea Partiers think he’s too liberal and Democrats think he’s a Dr. Strangelove who has never seen a war he didn’t want to ride a missile into.

His constant appearances on Sunday morning television signal that his pro-interventionist stance is the mainstream in the Republican Party — when his party is much more in line with the rest of a country that continually shows no appetite for new wars.

McCain and his partner Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) blame the public’s attitude and most everything on President Obama, whom he calls weak and feckless and anything else he can think of.

“They’re egging him on” to get him to do something that’s not effective, former Bush and Obama Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said.

And the media loves it. So to America, the GOP is John McCain, who only learned one lesson from Iraq — and it’s the same lesson he learned from Vietnam: We left too early. And it’s a lesson America soundly rejects.


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