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
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

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."
Apr 7th 2021
EXTRACT: " One can, and perhaps should, take the optimistic view that moral panics in the US blow over; reason will once again prevail. It could be that the Biden era will take the sting out of Trumpism, and the tolerance for which American intellectual life has often been admired will be reinvigorated. This might even happen while the noxious effects of American influence still rage in other countries. For the sake of America and the world, one can only hope it happens soon.  "
Mar 28th 2021
EXTRACT: "By refusing (despite having some good reasons) to end electoral gerrymandering, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., has directly enabled the paralyzing hyper-partisanship that reached its nadir during Donald Trump’s presidency. By striking down all limits on corporate spending on political campaigns in the infamous 2010 Citizens United decision, he has helped to entrench dark money in US politics. And by gutting the 1965 Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, Roberts has facilitated the racist voter-suppression tactics now being pursued in many Republican-controlled states."
Mar 24th 2021
EXTRACT: "the UK’s tough choices accumulate, and the problems lurking around the corner look menacing. Britain will have to make the best of Brexit. But it will be a long, hard struggle, all the more so with an evasive fabulist in charge."
Mar 15th 2021
EXTRACT: "Over the years, the approach of most American policymakers toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been Israel-centric with near total disregard for the suffering endured by the Palestinian people. The architects of policy in successive US administrations have discussed the conflict as if the fate of only one party (Israel) really mattered. Israelis were treated as full human beings with hopes and fears, while Palestinians were reduced to a problem that needed to be solved so that Israelis could live in peace and security.  ..... It is not just that Israelis and Palestinians haven’t been viewed with an equal measure of concern. It’s worse than that. It appears that Palestinians were judged as less ​human than Israelis, and were, therefore, not entitled to make demands to have their rights recognized and protected."
Mar 8th 2021
EXTRACTS: "XThere’s a global shortage in semiconductors, and it’s becoming increasingly serious." ...... "The automotive sector has been worst affected by the drought, in an era where microchips now form the backbone of most cars. Ford is predicting a 20% slump in production and Tesla shut down its model 3 assembly line for two weeks. In the UK, Honda was forced to temporarily shut its plant as well." ..... " As much as 70% of the world’s semiconductors are manufactured by just two companies, Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) and Samsung."
Mar 5th 2021
EXTRACT: "Back in 1992, Lawrence H. Summers, then the chief economist at the World Bank, and I warned that pushing the US Federal Reserve’s annual inflation target down from 4% to 2% risked causing big problems. Not only was the 4% target not producing any discontent, but a 2% target would increase the risk of the Fed’s interest-rate policy hitting the zero lower bound. Our objections went unheeded. Fed Chair Alan Greenspan reduced the inflation target to 2%, and we have been paying for it ever since. I have long thought that many of our economic problems would go away if we could rejigger asset markets in such a way as to make a 5% federal funds rate consistent with full employment in the late stage of a business cycle."
Mar 2nd 2021
EXTRACT: "Under these conditions, the Fed is probably worried that markets will instantly crash if it takes away the punch bowl. And with the increase in public and private debt preventing the eventual monetary normalization, the likelihood of stagflation in the medium term – and a hard landing for asset markets and economies – continues to increase."
Mar 1st 2021
EXTRACT: "Massive fiscal and monetary stimulus programs in the United States and other advanced economies are fueling a raging debate about whether higher inflation could be just around the corner. Ten-year US Treasury yields and mortgage rates are already climbing in anticipation that the US Federal Reserve – the de facto global central bank – will be forced to hike rates, potentially bursting asset-price bubbles around the world. But while markets are probably overstating short-term inflation risks for 2021, they do not yet fully appreciate the longer-term dangers."
Feb 28th 2021
EXTRACT: "To be sure, calls to “build back better” from the pandemic imply some awareness of the need for systemic change. But the transformation we need extends beyond constructing modern infrastructure or unlocking private investment in any one country. We need to re-orient – indeed, re-invent – global politics, so that countries can cooperate far more effectively in creating a better world."
Feb 23rd 2021
EXTRACT: "So, notwithstanding the predictable release of pent-up demand for consumer durables, face-to-face services show clear evidence – in terms of both consumer demand and employment – of permanent scarring. Consequently, with the snapback of pent-up demand for durables nearing its point of exhaustion, the recovery of the post-pandemic US economy is likely to fall well short of vaccine development’s “warp speed.” "
Feb 20th 2021
EXTRACT: "Human rights abuses under Erdogan are beyond the pale of inhumanity and moral decadence. The list of Erdogan’s violations and cruelty is too long to numerate. The detention and horrifying torture of thousands of innocent people for months and at times for years, without being charged, is hard to fathom. Many prisoners are left languishing in dark cells, often in solitary confinement. The detention of tens of thousands of men and hundreds of women, many with their children, especially following the 2016 failed coup, has become common. It is calculated to inflict horrendous pain and suffering to bring the prisoners to the breaking point, so that they confess to crimes they have never committed."
Feb 20th 2021
Courtyard of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, circa 1670, (Job Adriaenszoon Berckheyde).
Feb 12th 2021
EXTRACT: "Global regulators will no doubt be concerned about a potential volatility spillover from digital asset prices into traditional capital markets. They may not permit what could quickly amount to effective proxy approval by the back door for companies holding large proportions of a volatile asset on their balance sheets."
Feb 11th 2021
EXTRACT: "Since Russians began protesting opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s imprisonment, the security forces have apparently had carte blanche to arrest demonstrators – and they have done so by the thousands. If Russians so much as honk their car horns in solidarity with the protesters, they risk personal repercussions. The official response to the protests goes beyond the Kremlin’s past repression. It is war."
Feb 6th 2021
EXTRACT: " Biden, Roosevelt was certainly no revolutionary. His task was to save American capitalism. He was a repairer, a fixer. The New Deal was achieved not because of Roosevelt’s genius or heroism, but because enough people trusted him to act in good faith. That is precisely what people are expecting from Biden, too. He must save US democracy from the ravages of a political crisis. To do so, he must reestablish trust in the system. He has promised to make his country less polarized, and to restore civility and truth to political discourse. In this endeavor, his lack of charisma may turn out to be his greatest strength. For all that he lacks in grandeur, he makes up for by exuding an air of decency."
Feb 2nd 2021
EXTRACT: "Europe must not lose sight of the long game, which inevitably will center on China, not Russia or relations with post-Brexit Britain. China is already establishing a presence in Iran, and demonstrating that it has the capital, know-how, and technology to project power and influence beyond its borders. Should it succeed in turning the Belt and Road Initiative into a line of geopolitical stepping-stones, it might soon emerge at Europe’s southeastern border in a form that no one in the EU foresaw."
Jan 29th 2021
EXTRACT: "One sign of this change is that, unlike all recent Democratic administrations, Biden’s hasn’t paid obeisance to Wall Street by giving bankers top jobs. The new Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, is a former Federal Reserve chair and academic who has made it clear that she understands the country’s pressing social needs. Moreover, Biden consulted Warren on her economic views, and has named a former Warren adviser as Yellen’s deputy. Yellen’s appointment demonstrates that Biden shares the insight that enabled Trump’s rise: that too many Americans feel that they cannot get a fair share. "
Jan 24th 2021
EXTRACT: "Barack Obama cautioned in his final speech as president that, “Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted.” Yet isn’t that exactly what America has been doing? In a decade punctuated by the global financial crisis, the COVID-19 crisis, a racial-justice crisis, an inequality crisis, and now a political crisis, we have only paid lip service to lofty democratic ideals. ... Sadly, this complacency has come at a time of growing fragility for the American experiment. Internet-enabled connectivity is dangerously amplifying an increasingly polarized national discourse in an era of mounting social and political instability. The resulting vulnerability was brought into painfully sharp focus on January 6. The stewardship of democracy is at grave risk. "