Media Problems: The National Review Edition

There’s plenty of bad journalism out there.  I don’t believe it to be malicious for the most part.  Laziness is the typical culprit, whether that takes the form of the mindless meme-following of Politico or the fact-free assertions forwarded by the Morning Joe cast that I’ve chronicled previously.  But some of it is worse than unprofessional. I’m convinced that some pieces, particularly opinion pieces, are designed to forward intolerance based purely on falsehoods. Ladies and gentleman, I submit to you the conservative bible, aka, the National Review.

Here’s the National Review on why the Republicans shouldn’t even bother with immigration reform.  According to them, it’s a pointless exercise:

Republican immigration reformers with an eye to political reality should begin by appreciating that Latinos are a Democratic constituency. They did not vote for Mitt Romney. They did not vote for John McCain. They did not vote for George W. Bush, and in the election before that they did not vote for George W. Bush again.

I’ll grant you that we Hispanics have been a historically Democratic constituency.  However, just because we tend to vote for one party doesn’t mean you shouldn’t even try to win our votes.  President Bush garnered 44% of the Hispanic vote back in 2004, up from 35% back in 2000.  How did he do it?  What was his magic trick?  It’s called outreach.  You know, actually showing people you respect them enough to try to earn their votes.  To say nothing of actually spending some of his political capital in trying to get an immigration reform bill passed.  Since then the Republicans have basically been going out of their way to piss off one of the fastest growing demographics in America.  Here comes the National Review again, extolling our virtues:

While many are in business for themselves, they express hostile attitudes toward free enterprise in polls. They are disproportionately low-income and disproportionately likely to receive some form of government support. More than half of Hispanic births are out of wedlock. Take away the Spanish surname and Latino voters look a great deal like many other Democratic constituencies. Low-income households headed by single mothers and dependent upon some form of welfare are not looking for an excuse to join forces with Paul Ryan and Pat Toomey.

You know it’s bad enough that maybe doing the right thing on immigration isn’t enough of a reason to find some sort of compromise on the issue.  But basically admitting that we aren’t worth your time because we supposedly hate freedom and come from single parent, welfare using households is beyond insulting.  It’s like listening to Uncle Ruckus, except without the humor or the intentional depth of satire.  There are no polls that say that Hispanics are “hostile toward free enterprise.”  There is however a poll that says that 56 % of Hispanics believe that government should do more to solve the country’s problems.  You can in fact believe that the government has a role to play, even an increased role, in solving our country’s problems without being hostile toward the free enterprise system.  Republicans, however, are apparently unaware of how bad all of that sounds, because I keep hearing similar things all over conservative media.  Newsflash, showing outright contempt for potential voters is not a winning strategy.  Also, according to a recent Gallup poll, 36% of registered Hispanics identify as Independents.  People like my wife, for example.  Now why would she ever vote for a party that talks about her abuelita like that?

I guess it shouldn’t be a complete surprise.  This is a political party that needed to have a retreat in the year 2013 to figure out how to talk about immigration in an non-offensive way.  You know, really hard to grasp concepts like avoiding terms “anchor babies” and “electrified fences.”  Many learned for the first time that those phrases tend to turn people off.  Can’t you just see Representative taking copious notes at this getaway.  Are you certain they’ll be offended if I say we should round ’em all up and send them back?  Who knew?  Maybe Pat Toomey should have taken that course.  Then he would not have voted for HR 3722.  That was a bill that not only said that hospitals should inquire about a patient’s immigration status but also and that they don’t have to treat undocumented workers.  And they wonder why we aren’t lining up to join forces.

If the idea is we never win that group so why even bother competing, then I guess the Republicans should write women off as well.  Of course, the week before they had another retreat on how to talk to women and minorities.  Because how else would they know how to interact with those two groups?  It’s not like they’re people or anything.  Perhaps the best way to impress upon minorities and women that you are serious about outreach isn’t to have that particular chat in a building famous for owning people.

Pictured above: the guy who actually did it better than any of his current party members.

Pictured above: the guy who actually did it better than any of his current party members.

That’s right folks, the talk was held in the “Burwell Plantation” room.  It literally used to be a plantation. You seriously can’t make this stuff up.

So let’s take a step back and sum up. The thesis at the National Review is that Republicans should not work to court a larger portion of the ever-growing Hispanic vote because Hispanic voters at the moment typically vote for Democrats.  For a purportedly free-market, capitalist-friendly group, this strategy makes about as much sense as saying that Burger King should not compete with McDonald’s because McDonald’s is already bigger…so fuck it? Leave aside the obvious problems with race, inaccurate assumptions about ingrained party loyalty (Hispanics as a voting block can definitely be swayed, as the Notorious G.W.B. was able to prove), and clear discomfort with demographic arithmetic that the NR editorialists seem to be suffering. If you are trying to advocate for a political party in a Democratic republic, you should be able at the very least to believe your own bullshit about advancing the interest of all Americans — white, black, brown or striped with Technicolor; of any ancestry you can name. Republicans in the 21st century have gotten lazy — so complacent in their appeal to the Angry White Male voting base that they’re willing to openly discount the rest of the country that they claim they would like to represent. But it doesn’t work both ways, folks. And openly calling out your party for pretending to begin to think about less offensive outreach to a fast-growing block of red-blooded Americans? Not a winning strategy if I’ve ever seen one.

Of course, I’m not an impartial observer here — I’m happy to watch them flounder, embarrass themselves and fail. The hell with them and their increasingly overt racism.  It would make me incredibly happy to see them beaten bloodier and bloodier in every national, state and local election going forward. Gerrymandering will only get them so far.  But for the time being, I’m holding to the idea that any party that claims to want to represent America should make at least a good-faith effort to understand who these Americans (of any creed, ethnicity or color) are — what are their values and priorities, and how to meet their needs. And that’s a lesson that the National Review — and the Republicans who love it — seem totally, bafflingly, still willing to miss.

Categories: Politics Fix

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