The New York Times today has another "Whither the GOP?" article. In case you haven't noticed, when you ask people in and around the Republican Party, you notice that no one actually wants the party to moderate any of its views, except (perhaps) on immigration. The "battle for the soul of the party" isn't between people who want to move to the center and people who want to stay on the right -- it's between people who want to stay unapologetically on the right -- or move even further to the right -- and people who want to stay on the right but paint a happy face on the message (preferably a brown happy face).
So here are your two choices. Choice #1:
"We continually crank out moderate loser after moderate loser," said Joshua S. Trevino, a speechwriter in George W. Bush's administration who now works for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative group. He said Mitt Romney was part of a "pattern" of Republican nominees, preceded by John McCain, Bob Dole and George H. W. Bush, who were rejected by voters because of "perceived inauthenticity."(Yes, Poppy Bush lost because of "perceived inauthenticity" -- I guess he was perceived as more inauthentic in 1992 than in 1988, when he won. And remember, he won in 1988 while pretending to like country music and pork rinds. Authentic! Of course, we know what Trevino means when he talks about "inauthenticity" -- it's all about tax increases. Poppy lost because he raised taxes. Voters hate that! And we see that that still holds true today: President Obama promised every single day on the campaign trail that he'd raise taxes on the wealth, and he los-- er, no, I guess he didn't.)
So that's Choice #1. Here's Choice 2. Notice that the message isn't "our positions are alienating key voting blocs" -- the message is "our positions are awesome -- it's just that key voting blocs don't understand how awesome they are":
"I certainly get the fact that your daddy's Republican Party cannot win relying singularly on white voters and evangelicals alone -- as critical as I believe those voters are to a majority coalition," [Ralph] Reed said. "The good news for conservatives is there are many of those who have not always felt welcome in our ranks who share our values." ...See? There's absolutely nothing wrong with the GOP's positions. The material is brilliant -- it's the delivery that's a bit off.
"The question really is how do we set the best tone in delivering our conservative message so that it becomes attractive to more people," said Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia....
"The conservative movement should have particular appeal to people in minority and immigrant communities who are trying to make it," [Senator Marco] Rubio said after the election, "and Republicans need to work harder than ever to communicate our beliefs to them."
Or as Ben Stein puts it:
Yes, the Hispanic community is incredibly important now in America. They should be conservatives. The ones I know are all ferociously pro-life and pro-work. Let's make an effort in their direction in a big way.Back in the George W. Bush years, Republicans began talking this way about black voters. And when black people didn't come around to their supposedly obvious home in the GOP, Republicans basically began calling them stupid -- Why do you people stay on the liberal plantation? That's what GOP outreach to the African-American community now consists of -- and Hispanics? You're next!
Of course, the notion that blacks or Hispanics are a natural fit for the GOP is nuts. Are blacks and Hispanics more religious than, say, upscale white liberals? Sure, I suppose. But white religious conservatism in America is much more about despising people than non-white religious conservatism.
That extends to the secular message as well. Look at Ben Stein's praise of Hispanics, and notice the subtext: they're "ferociously ... pro-work" (not like certainly shiftless ethnic groups I could mention). And it also says that Hispanics are OK only as long as they're employed. As soon as they lose their jobs, they switch from the "hard worker" right-wing stereotype to this right-wing stereotype:
Why they vote Dem: U.S.-born Hispanic households in CA use welfare programs at 2x rate of native-born non-Hispanics.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) November 12, 2012
The Democratic message assumes that people will work if there are jobs they can fill. The Democratic message assumes that people will rise to the middle class if there's a path to the middle class. The Republican message is that some people are good and some are just irredeemable. Everyone in the GOP seems to agree on that; Republicans just can't seem to decide which category applies to Hispanics or blacks. But it's the categories that are the problem.