Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Root of the Wheeler

Earlier today, we discussed the issue at the core of Assembly Member Jim Wheeler's eye-popping comments on slavery and "representing his constituents". Since then, The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart has chimed in with a quick lesson on what Assembly Member Wheeler was willing to do to "represent his constituents". And he's not even the only national media figure noticing the Wheeler Incident.

But now, I'd like for us to look at the big picture. As we discussed earlier, this wasn't an isolated incident. Rather, there's a growing pattern of "TEA" fueled Republican politicians making incendiary comments.

So why does this keep happening? Simple. All these Republican politicians have been pandering to the 21st Century Know Nothings. And they've been doing so because they've figured it's easier to try winning more culturally conservative white voters than adapt to the changing demographics of 21st Century America.

This is why the 21st Century Know Nothings have amassed so much control over today's Republican Party. This is why likely 2016 G-O-TEA Presidential Candidates have sought their official blessing. And this is why Republican "leaders" have been deferring to them on everything from immigration reform to women's health care to sex crimes to even basic governance.

After their stinging defeat in 2012, some Republicans briefly engaged in soul searching. And in doing so, they realized the only realistic path forward for their party was modernization. But because they've become accustomed to relying upon their "TEA" fueled base in recent election cycles, Republicans faced a difficult choice: change and risk upsetting the "TEA" fueled base, or keep chugging that "TEA" and risk future electoral irrelevance.

It's not too hard to figure out which direction Republicans have picked (at least for now). By harassing transgender kids, flirting with neo-Confederate sympathizers, demonizing wide swaths of people, and taking "slut shaming" to a whole new level, the bulk of Republican politicians continue to pledge allegiance to the 21st Century Know Nothings. And they're doing so because the 21st Century Know Nothings fear America's future, just like their 19th century counterparts.

Yet in doubling down on their 21st Century Know Nothing strategy, Republicans are only risking their own political death by thousand demographic cuts. After all, the American electorate is changing. And the 21st Century Know Nothing base that Republicans relied on (especially in 2008, 2010, and 2012) is shrinking. So as long as these trends continue, the Republican Party can only expect rougher times ahead in 2014 and 2016.

So as Republicans in Nevada and nationally try to figure out ways to make their "Jim Wheeler problem" disappear, they actually need to examine the root of this problem. Here's a helpful hint: It lies far deeper than some "inartful comments" on a shameful period of America's history.

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