The "New! Less Evil! More Populist!" GOP

Since their drubbing in the 2012 election. Republicans with an eye for National Electoral Politics have come to the realization that their party must come to terms with the fact that it just might support policies that are favored by a minority of Americans, and not by minority Americans.  The party seems to be casting out in all directions to heal this PR wound, and to throw a smokescreen in front of the parts of their platform that, though ugly, they won't change (at least 3 metaphors in that sentence. You're welcome).

They hope that by joining in real and meaningful conversation on immigration reform, they can shake the "papers please" albatross that is keeping them from reaching out to Hispanic voters. Voters who, many of them Catholic, the party believes shares its values (that their antagonistic stances on labor issues might prove a further barrier has not, as of yet, occurred to them).  The idea is, if Hispanic voters stop thinking of Republicans as the party that wants to deport, harass, and force language classes upon them, perhaps they can begin to win some Hispanic votes.

Unfortunately, this effort has a couple roadblocks on its way to GOP electoral success. One, which I mentioned already, is the fact that Republicans dislike the idea of organized labor--a bloc that has, in some cases, been a strong ally to disenfranchised and migrant workers who would otherwise be taken advantage of. Two, it ignores the larger problem the Republican party has with other voting blocs (i.e. the middle class), which is that the GOP has become a reverse-Robin Hood party of protecting the rich at the expense of the poor.  And sadly, some of the most prominent members of the party, most vocal on shedding this image, are also most guilty of its perpetuation. When you stop listening to their words, and start looking at their deeds, the difference is striking and anything but populist.

Take a look:

Governor Bobby Jindal when he knows the nation is listening: "We must not be the party that simply protects the well off so they can keep their toys. We've gotta be the party that shows how ALL Americans how they can thrive. We're the party whose ideas help the middle class and help more folks join the middle class. We're a populist party and we need to make that clear to every voter and every American."

Governor Bobby Jindal when he thinks the only people listening are his GOP controlled Statehouse: "Our goal is to eliminate all personal income tax and all corporate income tax in a revenue neutral manner."  That manner? Raising the sales tax statewide.
The impact of which is a relative tax hike of 3.4% on the poorest 20% of Louisianans, an tax hike of 1.2% on the middle 20%, and a tax break of 2.3% (or $25,423 which is more than half the median income for a household in Louisiana) for the richest 1% in the state.

Representative Paul Ryan to his party: "[President Obama] means to delegitimize the Republican party, and House Republicans in particular. The President will bait us. He will portray us as cruel and unyielding. We can't get rattled. We won't play the villain in his morality plays."

Representative Paul Ryan when asked for his vote on a bill that would allow the National Flood Insurance Program to take on debt to provide relief to families and businesses devastated by Hurricane Sandy: "Nay."

Clearly this is a party with more than a simple PR problem. Until Republicans actually begin to act in the interest of the middle class, and not in the interest of the Grand Old Plutocrats, I don't envision them making serious strides towards national political relevance soon.

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