We’ve been here before. After what can only be described as a disastrous 2012 election for the GOP in national races Republican leaders are rebranding, trying to convinces women and minority voters that, contrary to its voting record, the Republican party is not just out to protect white guys. And just like previous rebrandings, there’s no reason to believe a word of it.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was tasked with communicating the vision of the new-and-improved GOP. Not surprisingly, there wasn’t anything new and improved about it.
So what are the major policy initiatives unveiled by Republicans to lure back the women and voters of color who have largely abandoned them? On the surface some of them actually sound pretty good. Progressive, even. Take Cantor’s proposal to help working mothers. The Republicans propose allowing hourly employees to convert overtime into future comp-time or flex-time. What hourly worker wouldn’t want the opportunity to work overtime one month and use it as time off the next month without worrying about losing pay? Cantor sells this proposal as a way to respond to the struggle of balancing the demands of work and home yet he and his colleagues in the House have consistently blocked advancements in equal pay as well as ensuring that all workers have access to paid sick and family leave.
The same is true of Republican proposals to reform public education. Cantor and his friends in the right propose directing federal aid to students directly and not schools, an idea that sounds great until it matches up with the GOP budget which calls for $2.7 billion in cuts to spending for disadvantaged students and with no plan for oversight to ensure those dollars are spent on quality education. Much like their plan for higher education which heavily subsidizes for-profit educational businesses at the expense of disadvantaged students by eliminating Pell Grants, the GOP proposal for public school chooses profits over quality and accountability which sounds a lot more like the GOP we’ve all come to know.
But nowhere is the fact that this is nothing more than Compassionate Conservatism 2.0 more apparent than Republican proposals on immigration reform. In 2010 House Republicans, led largely by Cantor, voted against the DREAM Act while his buddies in the Senate did the same. That vote, along with the constant demonizing of “illegals” cost Republicans dearly with Latino voters in 2012. In response, Republicans have backtracked — a little — calling for an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those brought to this country as children. Cantor offered nothing other than a promise that he’s working in “good faith” to address this issue. And with immigrant visas at the heart of the “objection” to renewing the Violence Against Women Act, Cantor telling voters to “trust” Republicans on this issue is almost as disingenuous as Cantor telling voters to trust Republicans on abortion.
As tempting as it is to laugh off this rebranding, we can’t risk it. Republicans have every reason to fight hard to regain footing in 2014, and with an open White House in 2016, they will do whatever it takes to win, and this rebranding is the first step in that direction.
Photo from gageskidmore via flickr.