GOP in a position to lose everything
The Republican party is a fractured mess. Former Gov. Mitt Romney got solidly thumped in the 2012 presidential election, losing eight of the nine swing states. The GOP maintains a majority in the House of Representatives, but Democrats running for Congress received more total votes for House and Senate seats in 2012.
The American people are moving in a new direction, and some Republicans are choosing to move with them. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, an influential senator and likely presidential candidate in 2016, is part of the bipartisan Gang of Eight looking to reform our broken immigration system by securing our borders and providing a path to citizenship for immigrants.
For his willingness to compromise and take a moderate stance on immigration reform, Rubio should be applauded. Instead, conservative talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh have ripped into Rubio for giving in to liberal doctrine. Limbaugh told Rubio that the Republican party would be “committing suicide” by pushing these reforms through the Senate.
As someone who is paid to talk for a living, Limbaugh should know the importance of words. Saying that providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is “suicide” for the Republican party doesn’t allow for civil discourse to create meaningful solutions.
Rather, it spreads misunderstanding, hate and half-truths — a point that media-friendly Republican Frank Luntz made while talking to students at the University of Pennsylvania. Luntz called Limbaugh’s behavior “problematic” because his malicious language only contributes to the severe polarization in Washington. He said that conservative talk radio creates major divisions within the Republican party.
Why, when the Democratic presidential candidate has won the popular vote five out of the last six races, would a conservative talk show host blast Republicans for trying to reposition themselves to gain more votes?
Limbaugh said allowing undocumented immigrants to become citizens would pave the way for “9 million automatic Democrat voters,” but he’s entirely missing the point of repositioning the party. In 2012 exit polls, Obama won 93 percent of the black vote, 71 percent of the Hispanic vote and 73 percent of the Asian vote over Romney. As Luntz put it in his Washington Post op-ed, “Hispanic voters don’t think Republicans like, welcome or respect them. So how can they vote Republican? Immigration reform that brings people out of the shadows is the last, best opportunity for the party to reset its broken relationship with Hispanics.”
Hispanics aren’t the only ones Republicans could be reaching out to in order to reposition themselves with voters. According to an ABC News poll last December, Obama had a 58 percent to 32 percent advantage over congressional Republicans when Americans were asked about who is “protecting the middle class.” Luntz’s own polling firm found that twice as many people said the GOP was fighting for “the wealthy” and “big business” than “hardworking taxpayers” or “small business” on the night of the 2012 presidential election.
It’s difficult to figure out exactly what the Republican stance is on the biggest issues facing our nation, but it’s easy enough to find stories about Republicans fighting among themselves. And let’s be clear: Limbaugh’s harsh language toward Rubio was malicious, not constructive debate.
Winning votes in a changing America doesn’t mean sticking to your same, outdated Tea Party antics. Luntz is right: The Republican party is shooting itself in the foot with its own language. Taking a moderate stance doesn’t make you a bad politician; it makes you a reasonable politician. Republican voters have everything to lose here — liberals certainly wouldn’t mind seeing Republicans out of the way on Capitol Hill.
— Nathaniel Drake is a sophomore studying political science and communications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.