GOP hardliners peddle more delusions

Earl Ofari Hutchinson | 11/14/2012, 8:19 a.m.

For a brief moment a decade ago, GOP leaders had a faint notion that times were changing and that the party had to get out front of the ethnic and gender changes to be competitive nationally. Bush spouted diversity and had a bevy of black faces on and off stage at the GOP national convention in 2000. His appointment of Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Alberto Gonzales and an aborted attempt to nominate a woman to the Supreme Court was a veiled attempt to put window dressing to his diversity pitch.

In 2004, Bush went one step further and partially reversed the GOP’s long-standing opposition to any softening on tough immigration crackdowns. He embraced comprehensive immigration reform, spent millions on Hispanic voter outreach campaigns and courted Mexican government leaders.

It worked. Bush got more than 40 percent of the Hispanic vote and low double-digit support from African American voters in the must-win states of Ohio and Florida. This was just enough to ensure his stay in the White House.

Tea Party leaders and GOP ultra-conservatives are banking that they can recapture the momentum that they appeared to briefly have in 2010 when they captured a crushing majority on Congress. There are still lots of Americans who think the idea of smaller government, caps on spending and debt reduction are noble goals worth fighting for. Tea Party types can still from time to time play the subtle race and gender card to appeal to some whites.

Meanwhile, GOP hardliners will continue to win some local elections in mid-America’s suburban and rural areas, but winning the race for the White House will be permanently off limits to them — though this won’t stop them from peddling their delusion that the America they longingly pine for still exists.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst.