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Hullabaloo


Friday, January 25, 2013

 
"Restructuring" the GOP: the fight for the soul of the party

by digby

So Reince Priubus is going to "restructure" the GOP:

To hear Priebus tell it, the goal is two-tiered: restructure the party on a tactical level to match the sophisticated and data-driven efforts of the Obama campaign, and create a communications plan to sell the GOP's message to voters it failed to connect with in 2012.

So, they need to build the Obama campaign infrastructure. (Sadly, if things go the way they've been going with other political operations built by progressives, they'll probably sell it to them...) And they need to get more voters. Considering how well they do with whites already, they're going to have to figure out how to get some of those minority voters. So they're going to create GOP ACORN. (Which proves once again just how lame it was that the Democrats let that pissant James O'Keefe destroy theirs.)

Priebus said a glaring organizational flaw for Republicans is that there have been no long-term investments made in human capital to help sell the GOP message on a neighborhood to neighborhood level.

It's more than just having an outreach director in a state -- it's having dedicated, full-time staffers on a grass-roots level to run "voter registration, hold community events, go to swearing-in ceremonies ... having real job descriptions for lots and lots of people on a yearlong basis in communities that move the dial."

The party's standing among Hispanics emerged as a damaging sore spot last year for national Republicans, who were forced to answer for hard-line immigration positions from prominent conservative figures, including their own presidential nominee.

Obama won with 71% of the Hispanic vote, according to CNN national exit polls.

"I think you are seeing a lot of movement from our party on these issues," said Priebus, who said outreach has already begun. "A lot of it, I tell you, was tone. You know, it wasn't necessarily the policy on immigration, it was what is coming out of your mouth."

And, naturally, he blames it on that loser Romney:

He specifically mentioned a comment by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who suggested illegal immigrants might "self-deport" and leave the country willingly.

"When you talk about stuff of self-deportation, it is probably not the best place to start," Priebus said.

Still, Priebus said he believes that Republicans, not Democrats, better represent the ideals and goals of all voters, including minorities who turned out in droves to re-elect the president.

Good luck with all that. I'm afraid he needs to look at his electoral base and ask himself why some moneyed robot felt the need to pander that hard. It's not like he actually believed in any of it. He was running for President, for Pete's sake!

Anyway, that's not really what this is about:

It's an overwhelming task and it's going to cost money, lots of money.

"I've been meeting with donors since the election in November," Priebus said. "I would say I am pleasantly surprised how quickly the donors who have given so much are ready to build a party that is a year-round operation."

Hey no need to let a little lost election stand in the way of your graft, right? There's money to be made.

I hope they'll be able to move left on immigration because it might just make the Democrats move left too. (Or, it might make the Democrats move right, just out of habit.) But it's going to be interesting to see how their base takes it. These are the issues that really get them going. All the stuff about taxes and big gummint are only as powerful as their attachment to government benefits and privileges being extended to people they don't like. They've got some work to do to change that.

Meanwhile, back in the trenches:

The thrills — and opportunities for heroics — seem greatest when disaster is at hand. Or at least that’s how Mike Needham likes to look at it.

The 31-year-old chief executive of Heritage Action — the lobbying arm of the storied Heritage Foundation — senses victory where others see defeat.

Sure, you could interpret the passage of the Jan 1. fiscal cliff deal as a crushing loss for conservatives, who were pained to see Republicans vote for their first tax increase in more than two decades. But flip the script, Needham urges, and you’ll see that only 85 House Republicans supported the deal; 151 of them voted against it.
“That’s a whole lot of Republicans who kept their purity on the tax issue,” Needham explains. He’s as confident as ever that his group will compel conservatives to hold firm in the next stage of the fiscal fight. Needham will have a partner in former senator Jim DeMint, the conservative firebrand from South Carolina who’s set to become president of the Heritage Foundation in April.

As with DeMint, there’s little that animates Heritage Action more than being in the opposition, where an honorable defeat will always trump a watered-down compromise. Needham’s group has a distinct way to convince itself and others of its rectitude: reams of data and research from the most visible and well-funded think tank on the right. A willingness to go to the brink doesn’t hurt, either.

While some of its compatriots have reconsidered their hardline stances since President Obama’s reelection — even Grover Norquist gave the GOP a hall pass on the fiscal cliff’s tax hike — Heritage Action has retrenched. On Wednesday, House Republicans backed down from the debt-ceiling standoff and voted to suspend it for three months without offsetting spending cuts. But Heritage Action has already settled on the next crisis point to use as leverage: rallying, cajoling, and shaming lawmakers to commit to a budget that balances within 10 years. And here, in part, is why Heritage Action calls itself the “new fangs” on the Heritage “beast”: It has no qualms about holding conservative members accountable to their promises — even if it risks a government shutdown.

(Read the whole thing. It explains why Tea Partier Jim DeMint decided to jump there.)

So, the upshot is that this should be a lot of fun. The right wingers are locked in a battle between the hardcore activists and the Party apparatchiks who want to figure out a way to win. I suppose it was ever thus with a party that becomes extreme.

The wildcard is the billionaire funders. Will they stick with the Party? Who knows? But they certainly do have plenty of money to cover their bases either way:
There has been some discussion over the last year or so that the growth of income inequality—especially the trends favoring the top 1.0 percent—had been reversed in the recent downturn and, therefore, policymakers need not focus on the overall increase in income inequality since the late 1970s.

Newly available data on the labor earnings of the very highest earners are the first indicators available for 2011 enabling a determination as to whether this is indeed the case...

Key findings include:

Those at the top are seeing their wages rebound quite strongly in the recovery.

Following a 15.6 percent decline from 2007 to 2009, real annual wages of the top 1.0 percent of earners grew 8.2 percent from 2009 to 2011.

The real annual wages of the bottom 90 percent have continued to decline in the recovery, eroding by 1.2 percent between 2009 and 2011.

Wage inequality grew substantially over 1979–2007, lessened in the 2007–2009 downturn, and began expanding again in the 2009–2011 recovery. Trends over the next few years will determine whether wage inequality returns to or exceeds the heights reached in 2007 or 2000—or simply remains far higher than at any time in the 1980s and 1990s.

Given the strong stock market recovery and wage growth at the top, the top 1.0 percent’s overall incomes (which include wages, capital gains, and other returns on financial assets) probably grew strongly in 2011, thereby increasing income inequality.

They can pretty much do what they want. And I, for one, will enjoy watching the billionaires fight it out for the soul of the GOP with the tea partiers and establishment clones as the gladiators. Bread and circuses --- without the bread.


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