Despite high unemployment and soaring gas prices, it seems the Obama administration may survive the November election. This is due not only to Republican infighting but also to the support given to liberal Democrats in the media, educational establishment, and entertainment industry. But even these factors may not tell everything. Perhaps more importantly, Obama and his advisors have begun playing up ethnic and gender grievances in a way that may hurt Republicans.
The administration has taken a number of positions intended to mobilize its base in the same record numbers as it was able to do in 2008. It has doggedly opposed attempts by states like Arizona and Alabama to deal through legislation with massive illegal immigration. The feds have not addressed this problem with any particular vigilance, but they have denied the states the power to cope with it. At the same time Obama has suggested that dislike for Hispanics and other minorities lie at the base of this heated resistance to the influx of illegals into certain states, a situation that, by the way, has added significantly to local social costs and crime. More recently, the administration has drummed up another supposed indication of Republican bigotry, namely the insistence by GOP officials that would-be voters provide identification, to guard against fraud. This law is supposedly aimed at keeping blacks from voting, particularly in Southern states, since it apparently goes against a way of life that excludes identifying oneself before voting. Civil rights leaders have now joined the chorus of condemnation against “racist” Republicans who expect voters to provide the same ID-forms as might be asked of someone buying a bottle of booze.
The recent testimony concerning publicly financed contraception by Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student who is considerably older and more politically engaged than the media would lead us to believe, opened can of worms for the by now anxious GOP another. Obama managed to turn to his advantage an issue that was creating flak for him, requiring religiously affiliated institutions to pay for birth control and abortifacients. Fluke became a stand-in for every victim of (a long-gone) male patriarchy. The fact that GOP shock-jock Rush Limbaugh weighed in by insulting Fluke complicated the problem. Academics and administrators, including clergy, fell over themselves defending Fluke and accusing Limbaugh and the party he fronts for of being complicit in the high crime of sexism. The gender gap surfaced again dramatically in recent polls, to the detriment of Republicans, and this has impacted most severely on Rick Santorum, the presidential candidate who has been emphasizing his religious traditionalism. In a two-way race, Santorum would be eaten alive by Obama.
There are two approaches to this appeal to minority grievances that the GOP might take. One is the usual “kiss-up” method, which consists of apologizing to the aggrieved minorities and even promising to work harder to accommodate them. Representative of this approach is longtime AEI fixture Linda Chavez, who favors amnestying illegals and is now going after Romney as an anti-immigrationist. Apparently the GOP frontrunner has dared to hire and take advice from Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who once played a key role in the anti-illegal immigrant law in Arizona. Romney has also gained the support of Jan Brewer, the Arizona governor who signed that bill.
I’ve no idea how the GOP can gain votes by favoring the “road to citizenship” for illegals. They are unlikely in this contest to outbid the other party; except for Cubans, the vast majority of Hispanics are Democrats. The latest polls indicate that 86 percent of Hispanic voters plan to vote for Obama, as they did when he ran in 2008, despite the strenuous efforts made by Bush and McCain to pay special attention to Latino lobbies. While all votes are valuable, GOP leaders should consider that it would be stupid to alienate those already in one’s camp by reaching out frenetically to natural Democratic constituencies.
The GOP should be counterattacking Obama’s stirring up of minority grievances even more relentlessly than it is doing right now. As late as 2008 the Supreme Court by a 6 to 3 vote upheld the constitutionality of an Indiana ID-law. When Georgia passed an ID-law in 2008, there was not a drop but higher numbers of minorities who voted in the next election. The GOP should not shrink from exposing the longtime activist identity of Ms. Fluke. It should also go after hypocritical Democratic partisans who are screaming about attacks on Fluke but who never complained when female Republican figures were insulted even more grossly and persistently. Once having slammed its opponents for deceit and hypocrisy, the GOP should then resume its attack on Obama for his wretched handling of the economy.