A week ago, we watched as the GOP, to be nice, took one on the chin. It was more like a slash to the throat if you ask me, but with losses in the House, Senate and the White House, the GOP is definitely in a rebuilding mode.
And over the last few days, I've heard on NPR and read online about what the GOP is trying to do in an attempt to restructure itself for 2010 and beyond. What I have yet to hear mentioned is that the GOP needs to abandon it's policy of "outgroups." The idea of creating an idea of an "other" that can be blamed for problems and divide people that would otherwise be united.
This notion may date back to the 1940's when Strom Thurmond and his fellow Dixiecrats bolted the Democratic Convention over the inclusion of a Civil Rights plank. Nixon with his Southern Strategy continued this trend of painting the South red. Reagan's "welfare queens" was a further advancement, and perhaps a way to take the idea beyond the South.
It goes well beyond African-Americans too. While the religious right may have many of its roots in the efforts to maintain racial segregation; the Equal Rights Amendment may have been what truly catapulted them into prominence in the 1980's. Gays and lesbians still struggle today for recognition of their equality, as California's Prop 8 shows.
The scapegoat of the hour for the right as of now though seems to be latinos, with folks like Lou Dobbs, Lou Barletta and the "Minutemen" acting as antagonists.
All of this exclusion seemingly serves two purposes. One, it shows how far out of step the GOP is with an America that is becoming more diverse and tolerant, though the oddity of blacks and latinos overwhelmingly supporting 'Prop 8' comes to mind. Two, it creates more potential voters for Democrats. While on a canvass of an apartment complex with a sizable Latino tendancy, I found a large number of Obama voters.
But will the GOP see that discriminatory initiatives and looking to xenophobes as their "rising stars" is a prescription for disaster, and can the GOP risk losing their "base" in the effort?