Five weeks after its losses in the election, the Republican Party is still trying to figure out how to talk to people who aren't older white males. So far, the strategy has crystallized to look something like this: talk about limited immigration reform, make some references to unfairness in urban areas, and just stop talking about gays. Here's a survey of the GOP's olive branch to minorities so far.
When the Supreme Court decided to take up gay marriage Friday, House Republicans said nothing, asnPolitico's Josh Gerstein points out. Only six months ago, they told the Court that the Defense of Marriage Act "is an issue of great national importance" the justices needed to address. But this week, conservative opponents of gay marriage have been disappointed that only a single Republican congressman really took up their cause — one that House Speaker John Boehner had already stripped of committee assignments because he wasn't a team player. Gerstein reports:
Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council said he assumes from conversations he’s had with congressional aides that lawmakers are pleased the high court is taking up the issue. “But there’s just radio silence” publicly, McClusky said. “I was disappointed there wasn’t more from the Hill.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a potential 2016 candidate, will give a speech at the Brookings Institution Tuesday about school choice and how it affects people in poor urban areas, Politico's Mike Allen reports. Note how much windup Jindal included to his pitch in these prepared remarks:
"As I was thinking about what to say here today, a thought occurred to me: Maybe I should say some things that are not allowed to be said in public, maybe I should say some things that folks think about but are afraid to say in polite company. ... The United States of America does not provide equal opportunity in education. Yes. We are the land of the free and the home of the brave. You can all take solace in that. But do not lay your head on the pillow at night believing that America provides equal opportunity in education. We do not. ...
"[I]t is completely dishonest to pretend today that America provides equal opportunity in education. We do not. And if you say that we do, you are lying. ... If you are a low-income parent residing in an urban area in America, it is more likely than not your child attends a failing school."
Allen calls this a "TRUTH BOMB." But the idea that there might be unfairness in our educational system isn't nearly controversial enough in that audience — Brookings is a liberal think tank — to require all that. But it is among conservatives. Part of figuring out how to talk to non-whites and non-males involves preparing white males for it.
Fellow 2016 maybe-candidate Paul Ryan has tried to make his budget plan sound more inclusive, mentioning "poverty" 15 times in a recent speech, Talking Points Memo's Benjy Sarlin reports. "Both parties tend to divide Americans into 'our voters' and 'their voters,'" Ryan said. "Let's be really clear: Republicans must steer very clear of that trap. We must speak to the aspirations and anxieties of every American." Last week, Politico reported that Ryan was frustrated during the Romney campaign because he couldn't talk more about poverty, as his idol Jack Kemp had done. Ryan was "arguing internally that Republicans are badly served when they seem to be talking only to rich white people and advancing an agenda that benefits primarily the well-off," Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei reported. But while Kemp made an anti-poverty message a big part of his career, Ryan has not done that throughout his. Until now?
After the election, some Republicans called for comprehensive immigration reform to help them reach out to Latinos. But now leaders like Sen. Marco Rubio are saying they'd prefer an incremental approach, as The Los Angeles Times reported reported over the weekend. "Portions of immigration reform can be dealt with quicker than others," Rubio said, calling for individual bills dealing with visas for high-skilled workers, people brought here illegally as children, and farm workers.
Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador, identified by Politico's Seung Min Kim as one of the five lesser-known Republicans who could be instrumental to immigration reform, wants an incremental approach as well. And he opposes citizenship for people who came here illegally. "I think it’s a mistake for us to reward people who are here illegally with a pathway to citizenship,” Labrador told Politico. "Because then, citizenship becomes meaningless."