RNC's Bush-linked Growth and Opportunity Project: GOP is "scary" to voters, must pass amnesty, Caring Conservatism

Who better to solve the GOP's demographic problems then acolytes of the people who created the problem in the first place?

RNC chairman Reince Priebus convened the "Growth and Opportunity Project" (link) to make suggestions on how the GOP could reach more voters. The Project's first suggestion is to pass comprehensive immigration reform to deal with demographic problems the GOP has. As discussed here many times, that will only make things worse. More on that and the five members of the Project below.

In the report, the Project claims:

Asked to describe Republicans, [voters who used to consider themselves Republicans] said that the Party is "scary," "narrow minded," and "out of touch" and that we were a Party of "stuffy old men."

They're right about the first three, and the report does accurately point to "epistemic closure", albeit not by name:

We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue...

...Peggy Noonan recently wrote about how our Party has stifled debate and how groupthink has taken over. She quoted Joe Scarborough saying, “Everybody’s afraid to talk.” She then related that in 1994 the Republican Party “was alive with ideas: John Kasich on the budget, Jack Kemp on taxes, John Engler on welfare reform, Tommy Thompson on crime control. This was the bubble and fizz of a movement at its height.” Third-party groups that promote purity are hurting our electoral prospects. As Noonan quoted Scarborough again, “The national conversation is more constricted, with radio stars, websites and magazines functioning as unofficial arbiters and limiters of domestic and foreign policy debate.” Our friends and allies are in a strong position to help promote the Party’s ideas and encourage a diversity of ideas and solutions consistent with our core principles.

By "third-party groups" they mean, of course, those like FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, and other Koch family groups and their foot soldiers in the Tea Parties.

So, they're right about one thing. However, they're wrong about one suggestion how to fix things: to engage in what might be called "Caring Conservatism", an update of "Compassionate Conservatism". The report stresses that the GOP must show people they care. Wouldn't that make you feel special, knowing that the GOP cared about you? Who cares about their fiscal policies being designed to redistribute wealth to the wealthy, just as long as they care.

However, the main suggestion that's all wrong is this:

President George W. Bush used to say, "Family values don't stop at the Rio Grande and a hungry mother is going to try to feed her child." When Hispanics heard that, they knew he cared and were willing to listen to his policies on education, jobs, spending, etc. Because his first sentence struck a chord, Hispanic Americans were willing to listen to his second sentence. We heard this from other demographic groups as well. President Bush got 44 percent of the Hispanic vote, a modern-day record for a Republican presidential candidate.

If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies. In the last election, Governor Romney received just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote. Other minority communities, including Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, also view the Party as unwelcoming. President Bush got 44 percent of the Asian vote in 2004; our presidential nominee received only 26 percent in 2012.

As one conservative, Tea-Party leader, Dick Armey, told us, "You can't call someone ugly and expect them to go to the prom with you. We've chased the Hispanic voter out of his natural home."

We are not a policy committee, but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party's appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only. We also believe that comprehensive immigration reform is consistent with Republican economic policies that promote job growth and opportunity for all.

1. George W Bush didn't get 44% of the Hispanic vote, it was more like 40% (link).

2. Regarding "Hispanic Americans were willing to listen to his second sentence", see this.

3. The bit about "self-deportation" is highly deceptive: it doesn't apply to all Hispanics, just to those here illegally no matter where they're from. No one's ever suggested that Hispanic citizens or legal immigrants "self-deport". See attrition for more on that proven plan to reduce illegal immigration.

4. If "minority communities" didn't vote for Mitt Romney as much as they did for GWB, perhaps that has more to do with his image as Richie Rich and him verging into Randroid concepts such as implying half the U.S. are moochers.

5. Dick Armey supports illegal immigration, and whether he's more of a libertarian than a "conservative" is an open question. He's a fiscal warrior, not a cultural warrior. It should be obvious that the "natural home" of the "Hispanic voter" is the Democratic Party; Hispanics tend to vote with their pocketbooks rather than cultural issues, and many or most are not culturally conservative. Has demagoguing gay marriage, abortion, and other issues ever attracted Latino voters to a candidate? With the "ugly" bit, Armey is also smearing those who support our immigration laws, including millions of Hispanics. Immigration enforcement is a necessary function of any state; if some Hispanics have a problem with it the problem is with them, not immigration enforcement.

6. The many downsides of comprehensive immigration reform are listed at the link. It would make things far worse for the GOP because it would create millions of new Democratic voters, and at the same time it would drive many who support our laws away from the GOP. While it might be consistent with (current) conservative "values" of helping the rich get richer, it certainly isn't consistent with culturally conservative values.

So, who's in the "Growth and Opportunity Project"? As you might have guessed, at least two are linked to the Bush family:

* Henry Barbour: nephew of Haley Barbour; Haley is a former lobbyist for the Mexican government.

* Sally Bradshaw: "Florida's Sally Bradshaw, a veteran strategist and top ally of Jeb Bush" ( peekURL.com/z3F8JSv )

* Ari Fleischer: George W Bush's press secretary

* Zori Fonalledas: "National Committeewoman, The National Republican Party of Puerto Rico"

* Glenn McCall: per RedState, "Glenn McCall won a race for RNC Committeeman. McCall becomes the first black committeeman ever elected to the RNC from South Carolina".

Since the U.S. only has two major parties and that will be the case for the foreseeable future, it's vital that the GOP is sane and is willing to oppose the Democratic Party on their policies that are noxious. While the "epistemic closure" part of the Project's ideas is correct, their immigration stance is all wrong and would just make everything worse. Unfortunately, those "third-party groups" they mention will likely go in the opposite direction to what's best. Instead of agreeing with them on the big, smart tent ideas and opposing them on amnesty, expect those third-party groups to smear the Project as the work of "RINOs" while ignoring (or supporting) their immigration ideas. Obviously, the GOP needs a different Project if it wants to avoid making its situation worse.