Yesterday, a Republican congressman referred to Hispanics as “wetbacks” on a radio show. In North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory announced he’s closing the Office of Hispanic/Latino Affairs. In the General Assembly, Republican bills to restrict voting transparently target minority voters. Nationally this year, Republicans sponsored over 50 bills in 30 states to restrict voting, particularly in young and minority communities.
Republicans are defining themselves as a party that does not understand or accept the changes taking place in our society. Their political tactics and strategies are procedural, not ideological. Instead of trying to win hearts and minds of the fastest growing segments of our population, they are trying to marginalize them and keep them out of the voting booth through gerrymandered districts and restrictive voting laws.
Their strategy is doomed to fail. They may have short-term and limited success, winning races in the next couple of cycles. But eventually, the voters Republicans want to suppress are going to make up a large block of the electorate and GOP policies are giving them a powerful reason to vote.
In addition, the GOP’s social policies are alienating young people. Their opposition to gay rights and harsh stances on immigration make them look like the party of intolerant, old white guys at a time when our nation is becoming more open and diverse. Obama won the under 30 vote by more than 20% and that demographic’s political participation is growing, not shrinking.
By pursuing policies of intolerance and restriction, the GOP is giving its opposition the emotionally charged issues that rally voters, not suppress them. Our nation’s legacy is over 200 years of expanding democracy, not curtailing it. Right now, the GOP stands on the wrong side of history.