Aug 7th 2014

Out of Touch GOP Rapidly Seals Fate with Majority of Ordinary Americans

by Robert Creamer

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist and author of the recent book: "Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win," available on amazon.com.
The Republican Leadership may be doing just fine with the Wall Street crowd and extremists who oppose birth control, but for the majority of ordinary Americans its actions over the last several weeks have rapidly begun to seal its fate as a minority party.
 
First, let’s start with the fact that the Republican Party is – at this very moment – a distinctly minority party in American politics. 
 
The Gallup poll reports that the number of Americans identifying as Republicans has fallen to its lowest level in the quarter century it has been tracking the number: 25%.
 
Republicans lost the last Presidential popular election by almost five million votes.
 
The FEC reports that combining the total number of votes cast by Americans for President, House and Senate in 2012, Americans voted for the GOP 158,605,000 times and for the Democrats 176,167,000 times.  In other words they cast over 17 million more Democratic votes than Republican votes in 2012.
 
And even though Republican gerrymandering allowed the party to maintain control of the House by a slim margin, 1.17 million more votes were cast for Democratic House candidates than for Republicans.
 
Right now, GOP hopes for victories do not rest on their ability to appeal democratically to the majority of voters.  They hinge entirely on successful gerrymandering and voter suppression policies that reduce the turnout of ordinary Americans.   That means their hopes for political success in the future rest on very, very thin ice.   And – amazingly -- they seem to be doing everything they can to make the ice that separates them from complete political marginality thinner and thinner.
 
For instance, last week the House voted to authorize its leaders to sue President Obama for “exceeding his executive authority” – even though he has issued fewer executive orders than most recent Presidents from either party.
 
Polling shows that most Americans think the lawsuit is a political stunt that will cost the taxpayers millions of dollars – and many believe it is a first step toward attempts by House extremists to impeach the President.
 
Polling also shows that the issue of the lawsuit simultaneously convinces swing voters to support Democrats and fires up Democratic base voters.  And it allows President Obama – who has leaned into the GOP lawsuit – to say, correctly, that the GOP is suing him for doing his job helping ordinary Americans, while the GOP leadership has prevented votes on scores of bills that would benefit ordinary people and would pass if they were allowed to come to the floor. 
 
That includes the minimum wage bill that would immediately benefit 28 million ordinary Americans and would indirectly benefit millions more by putting money in people’s pockets to spend on goods and services sold and produced by other workers and businesses across the country.   Polling shows that over 70% of Americans agree that America should increase the minimum wage and over 80% agree that no one who works full-time should live in poverty.  No matter, the GOP leadership won’t bring the bill to the floor – because if it did the bill would pass.
 
Recently my wife, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, and I joined other Democrats taking the “Minimum Wage Challenge” to call attention to how difficult it is to live on today’s minimum wage.   We worked very hard at trying to live on the $77 per week of discretionary income that the average minimum wage worker has to buy groceries, transportation, gas, pet food, entertainment, clothing, cleaning, etc. We still went over by about $5.
 
The “Minimum Wage Challenge” makes it really clear how little workers take home who work hard flipping burgers, cleaning hotel rooms, or bussing tables.  Some small examples: One trip a day to Starbucks costing $3.25 per visit – that many people take for granted -- would gobble up $22.75 or 30% of that  $77.  A five-dollar meal at Subway each day would consume $35 or almost half of the $77.   The fare on the DC metro five times a week, eats up almost a third of the $77 just trying to get to and from work at the minimum wage job.  
 
And to those in the Republican Party and corporate community who claim the minimum wage is adequate, I say: take the “Minimum Wage Challenge” yourself – see what you think after a week.
 
Of course the minimum wage is just one of a series of popular measures that the GOP leadership refuses to consider – including extending unemployment payments for the long-term unemployed – many of whom have worked all of their lives, paid their taxes, and now have been kicked by the GOP to the side of the road.
 
On the other hand the GOP was right there, passing extensions of tax breaks for Big Business. 
 
The fact that the GOP leadership does the bidding of Wall Street does not go unnoticed by the voters.  Neither does the fact that they would rather engage in costly political stunts like suing the President instead of dealing with bread and butter issues of concern to working families.
 
Most everyday Americans haven’t seen meaningful increases in their average wages in 30 years, even though productivity per person and gross domestic product per person have gone up over 80%.   The GOP has addressed this fact by claiming – incorrectly – that the problem is caused by huge “welfare” payments to people who don’t work.  But, as willing as some people are to accept that myth – even those who do are increasingly aware that the real culprits are the extravagantly paid CEO’s and gang on Wall Street.  And pretty much every ordinary working American believes that the rules of the game have been rigged against them and in favor of the 1%.
 
Everyday that the GOP fails even to consider increasing the minimum wage – which obviously benefits only working people -- they are further marginalized in the minds of ordinary Americans.
      
African Americans – who comprise 13% of ordinary Americans -- respond to the GOP lawsuit, the threats of impeachment, and years of outrageous disrespect for the first African American President, to be disrespectful attacks on the entire African American community.
 
And then there is the way the GOP moved last week to marginalize themselves with Hispanic voters.  Today Hispanics represent 16% of ordinary Americans.  By 2050 they will represent 30%.  No matter.  Not only did the House GOP leadership refuse to bring a popular immigration reform measure to a vote that was passed by a large bi-partisan majority in the Senate.  But last Friday, the Republicans also passed a bill to eliminate the Dreamer program that was established by the President to defer the deportation of children brought to America as minors who have known no other country except the USA.
 
Most Hispanic Americans do not think of these questions as “policy debates.”  They take them very personally.  They hear the GOP saying that Republicans are not on their side, and that they don’t respect their community. And when Hispanic Americans see the vitriol directed by the right wing extremists at buses containing Central American children, they know for a fact that the GOP is opposing immigration reform because much of their base simply does not like Hispanics. 
 
If anyone had remained unconvinced that was true, the vote on the Dreamer program sealed the deal.   To find something to address the children border crisis that would pass with the support of their caucus, the GOP leadership had to keep making their bill meaner and meaner until they satisfied their most extremist members.
 
It is likely that this vote will be a watershed moment similar to former GOP California Governor Pete Wilson’s support of Prop 187 in the 1990’s that turned formerly purple California into a bright blue state.   Between 1960 and 1988 California voted for the Republican Presidential nominee in six of seven elections.  It has voted Democratic in every Presidential election since 1992.
 
Together, Hispanics and African Americans currently comprise almost 30% of the population of the United States.  With every passing vote the GOP demonstrates over and over again that it has completely written them off.
 
If you add women – particularly single women -- the GOP math gets downright bleak. But that’s what you get when you nominate candidates like Congressman Corey Gardner who is running for Senate in Colorado -- who opposes birth control --not just abortion rights—birth control.   Remember, 98% of all women in American will use birth control at some time in their lives.   That’s what you get when you oppose equal pay for equal work.  That’s what you get when you discount the concerns of millions of moms for the safety of their kids by blocking the popular bill to require background checks for all gun purchasers.
 
And as its leadership makes the GOP more and more the party of Wall Street instead of working families, regular white working men increasingly realize that GOP candidates are simply out of touch with ordinary people and are not on their side, either. 
 
Take for example the Republican candidate for Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, an almost-billionaire who made $53 million in 2012.  He made $25,000 an hour, but was so out of touch with ordinary working people that he called for a reduction in the state minimum wage from $8.25 to $7.25 right after he got into the race. 
 
What should the Progressive response be to the increasing marginalization of the GOP from the mainstream of ordinary Americans?  Simple.  We need to keep standing up straight for progressive values because they are, in fact, American values.
 
Progressives and Democrats represent the aspirations of the vast majority of ordinary working families, instead of the interests of Wall Street bankers.   Progressive positions on immigration, unemployment insurance, minimum wage, student loans and college affordability, women’s right to control their reproductive decisions, equal pay for equal work, gun violence – virtually every issue – are embraced by super majorities of the American electorate.
 
And the social base of the extremists who have taken the helm at the Republican Party represents a smaller and smaller percentage of the American population every passing year.
 
You can’t build your future as a party on the thin ice of gerrymandering and voter suppression forever in a society where everyone has the right to vote.  In the end you have to convince the majority of Americans that your party embodies their interests and their hopes or you will lose.  
 
Of course Progressives can’t take anything for granted.  And we can’t wait forever.  After all, in the “long run” we are all dead. 
 
But if we keep up the battle -- if we overcome the setbacks -- the future is ours to win.  Or to put it another way, the arc of history does indeed bend toward justice – but we have to provide the hands that make it so.

You can follow Robert Creamer on Twitter @rbcreamer.
 

Browse articles by author

More Current Affairs

Jun 12th 2021
EXTRACT: "China’s recently published census, showing that its population has almost stopped growing, brought warnings of severe problems for the country. “Such numbers make grim reading for the party,” reported The Economist. This “could have a disastrous impact on the country,” wrote Huang Wenzheng, a fellow at the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing, in the Financial Times. But a comment posted on China’s Weibo was more insightful. “The declining fertility rate actually reflects the progress in the thinking of Chinese people – women are no longer a fertility tool.” "
Jun 12th 2021
EXTRACT: " I remember recounting fellow leaders of the story of a Rwanda schoolboy caught up in the genocide of the 1990s and now immortalized in the Kigali Genocide Memorial museum, where, in a section devoted to children, one can find his photograph and a plaque that reads: ----- David, age 11 ...... Ambition: to be a doctor ...... Favorite sport: football ...... Favorite hobby: making people laugh ...... Death: by mutilation ...... Last words: the UN are coming to save us ----- In his idealism and innocence, David believed the international community would save him and his mother. We didn’t. "
Jun 8th 2021
EXTRACT: " While many conservative Republicans opposed Trump and saw that he posed a danger to their party and democracy itself, they were hesitant to buck the mass movement they had created, fearing that it would turn against them. Some of these same conservatives assumed that with Trump's defeat, the horror of January 6th, and the former president's banishment from social media, the time had come to restore sanity to their party. But the GOP leadership’s continued cowering in the face of what they now call "Trump's base" has caused them to circle the wagons and purge their ranks of those who call for sanity. "
May 26th 2021
Editor's Note: This article is about the Federal Reserve, inflation in the 1970's, and possible similarities to today.
May 25th 2021
EXTRACT: "Netanyahu claims to be acting in the name of the Jewish people. He certainly is not. Many Jews around the world, including me, despise Netanyahu’s racist politics. As an American, I am also deeply troubled by the US government’s knee-jerk support of Israel. Fortunately, I am not alone in this view. A growing number of Democratic Congressmen, Jews and non-Jews alike, have called on the United States to stop supporting Israel’s lawlessness. The truth is that the US government’s uncritical support for Israel has come to depend more on evangelical Christians, such as former US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, than on American Jews, who are deeply divided by Netanyahu’s actions. And the evangelicals’ real interest in Zionism is not Jews’ security, but Armageddon, the end of the world, which they believe will come only when all Jews are in Israel."
May 18th 2021
EXTRACT: "This period in US history could go down as the moment when America’s democratic system for electing a president – the most consequential duty of US citizens – was broken, perhaps for good."
May 16th 2021
EXTRACT: "While reading Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) monumental report “A Threshold Crossed,” I felt a range of emotions. It also left me with one big question. I was deeply impressed by the report’s rigorous scholarship. At the same time, it brought to the surface feelings of anger and profound sadness. It’s an extraordinarily complete study detailing not only the many ways Israel has violated a broad range of Palestinian human rights, but the ideology of racial superiority and entitlement that Israel has used to justify its repression." ..... "My advice to both Israel’s defenders and weak-kneed liberals is​, “Read the damn report.” "
May 16th 2021
EXTRACTS: .... "He transformed a transitioning market economy into a stable statist project that rests on an alliance of his inner circle," ..... "He transformed Russia from a respected member of the international community into a rogue state" .... ". He energized NATO by providing it with the adversary it lacked after the end of the cold war," ..... "He befriended hopelessly corrupt, dysfunctional, and unstable dictatorships..." ..... "He forged a quasi-alliance with China, thereby enhancing Russia’s dependence on the one country that might have reason to appropriate those Russian territories inhabited by Chinese."
May 15th 2021
EXTRACT: "On the face of it, the latest escalation of violence is following the template of all inter-ethnic wars. Muslims observing Ramadan shouted nationalist slogans and clashed with Israeli right-wing groups chanting “Death to the Arabs.” The Israelis haughtily marched with their national flag on Jerusalem Day, marking Israel’s capture in 1967 of East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, the site of the biblical Second Temple, and of Al-Aqsa, completed in the year 705. Battles in and around the Al-Aqsa compound erupted, with worshipers inside throwing stones at the Israeli police, who responded by firing rubber-tipped bullets and other projectiles, wounding hundreds."
May 13th 2021
"Regardless of how the current and future violent conflicts between Israel and the Palestinians in Jerusalem will end, there will be no Israeli-Palestinian peace unless East Jerusalem becomes the capital of a Palestinian state while the city remains united."
May 7th 2021
EXTRACT: " Would the United States be prepared to risk a catastrophic war with the People’s Republic of China to protect the Republic of China, better known as Taiwan? "
May 5th 2021
EXTRACT: "Human history, ancient and contemporary, is replete with instances of genocide – that is, the effort to eradicate a people, erase their history, denigrate their culture, and destroy their physical presence. Many of these atrocities have been recognized by the victims and other nations who support them. But, with the notable exception of the German acknowledgment of the Holocaust, rarely have the perpetrators of these crimes accepted responsibility and offer recompense "
May 2nd 2021
EXTRACT: "The best way to defend liberal democracy is to practice it at home and abroad with the “courage and self-confidence” that Kennan touted at the dawn of the Cold War. This is also the best way to ensure the survival of our own conception of human freedom. And survive it will."
May 1st 2021
EXTRACT: "Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Sammy Roth at the LA Times/ Boiling Point Newsletter reports that California’s main power grid was powered for several hours last Saturday by 90% renewables. For just four seconds that day, the grid, which covers 4/5s of the state, reached 94.5% generation by green energy. California is the world’s fifth largest economy. The main grid does not cover Los Angeles County. On the other hand, these figures do not include the electricity generated by the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, which is not counted as renewable but which is also very low-carbon."
Apr 23rd 2021
EXTRACT: "It is no accident that there has been an economic divergence in Central and Eastern Europe. Those countries that have joined the European Union have improved their economic governance, and GDP has begun to converge with Western Europe. Between 2014 and 2019, Hungary, Poland, and Romania grew at an annual average rate of 3.9%, 4.1%, and 4.7%, respectively. Meanwhile, Belarus and Ukraine experienced minimal growth during this period, and Russia’s economy expanded at an average annual rate of just 0.7%. Though Russia had a higher per capita GDP (in terms of purchasing power parity) than Croatia, Poland, Romania, and Turkey as recently as 2009, all of these countries have since overtaken it. Russians today are shocked to learn that they are worse off than Romanians and Turks. Among EU member states, only Bulgaria is still poorer than Russia. With its close proximity to the EU single market, Russia could have had higher growth if it had pursued sound economic policies. Instead,..... "
Apr 22nd 2021
EXTRACT: "As far as anyone can tell, the US military is not on the verge of an internal breakdown, let alone primed to stage a coup d’état. But few predicted anything like the US Capitol riot before protesters equipped with body armor, stun guns, and zip-ties breached the building. Before the US is blindsided again, its leaders must act resolutely to root out extremism in the military."
Apr 17th 2021
EXTRACT: "The new report on 2020 by the International Renewable Energy Agency reveals that the world’s renewable energy generation capacity increased by an astonishing 10.3% in 2020 despite the global economic slowdown during the coronavirus pandemic." .... "In 2020, the global net increase in renewables was 261 gigawatts (GW). That is the nameplate capacity of some 300 nuclear power plants! There are actually only 440 nuclear power plants in the whole world, with a generation capacity of 390 gigwatts. So let’s just underline this point. The world put in 2/3s as much renewable energy in one year as is produced by all the existing nuclear plants!"
Apr 16th 2021
EXTRACT: "When we examined the development of nations worldwide since 1820, we found that among rich Western countries like the United States, the Netherlands and France, improvements in income, education, safety and health tracked or even outpaced rising gross domestic product for over a century. But in the 1950s, even as economic growth accelerated after World War II, well-being in these countries lagged.
Apr 11th 2021
EXTRACT: "Some presidents indulge in the “Mount Rushmore syndrome” making an obvious effort to achieve greatness. Normally soft-spoken and apparently modest Biden is making his own bid for immortality."
Apr 9th 2021
EXTRACT: "New ways of thinking about the role of government are as important as new priorities. Many commentators have framed Biden’s infrastructure plan as a return to big government. But the package is spread over eight years, will raise public spending by only one percentage point of GDP, and is projected to pay for itself eventually. A boost in public investment in infrastructure, the green transition, and job creation is long overdue."