Kearney Hub. April 19, 2014.
‘Insensitive’ a label GOP must guard itself against
Sluggish economy. Anemic job growth. Weakened global stature. Health care reform nightmares. All of these reasons and more have Democrats verging on panic in this midterm election year. They don’t have a prayer of winning back the House in November and, worse, their six-seat majority in the Senate could evaporate.
In contrast to down-in-the-mouth Democrats, Republicans are enthusiastic. They smell a big win right around the corner.
They could be correct. CBS pollsters tell us that among Republicans, 81 percent say they will definitely vote in the fall. That percentage compares with only 68 percent of Democrats saying they will definitely vote.
Those percentages are important, because a strong turnout of their base definitely would boost Republicans’ chances of maintaining control of the House and winning back the Senate, but don’t count out the Democrats. They still have a few cards to play, and, as we witnessed in 2012, Republicans are completely capable of shooting themselves in the foot, or handing Democrats the ammo they need to energize their base.
Issues on which Republicans appear vulnerable include minimum wage, equal pay and immigration reform. The party has adopted a hard line on all three. It’s a strategy that GOP leaders believe will keep their base loyal, but it comes with some risk. Democrats are well-versed in exploiting GOP gaffes and trumping Republican insensitivity.
While Republicans poo-pooh a minimum wage hike, stand in the way of equal pay for women, and won’t move on immigration reform, Democrats are jumping at the opportunity to motivate women and minorities to support liberal candidates. Democrats are floating legislative proposals and executive orders on the pay issues and making bold accusations about racism and GOP intractability on immigration.
Certainly it is inaccurate to say all Republicans are racists, but politicians like Rep. Steve King of Iowa are compromising the party’s image among minority voters with comments like this on young immigrants: “For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
Such foolish, inflammatory speech hurts all Republicans and should be condemned by the party’s leadership. Failing to put load mouths in their place while ignoring equal pay and minimum wage issues reinforces Democrats’ claims that the GOP is the party of intolerance, and it invites liberals to use such gaffes and policy omissions to their advantage.
It’s time for the GOP to put on a friendlier face, or 2014 could look a lot like the disaster of 2010.
Lincoln Journal Star. April 20, 2014.
The consequences of opting out
The opt-out movement against standardized testing in Nebraska is just getting started.