It is curious that the Republican National Committee decided to hold its own commemoration of the 1963 March On Washington, rather than participate in the national event on the National Mall on the 50th anniversary of the March just two days later. And so it was that on August 26, 2013 Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) spoke at that all-R event. He said, “The first thing we have to do is take the monkey wrench that the court threw in it, out of the Voting Rights Act, and then use that monkey wrench to be able to fix it so that it is alive, well, constitutional and impervious to another challenge that will be filed by the usual suspects.”
Hold on just a second. This is a Republican calling for restoration of the teeth of the Voting Rights Act, insisting on reinvigorating a liberal cause? Well, the story gets even more curious.
Following Sensenbrenner at this event was Reince Pribus, the fire breathing, absolutist chairman of the RNC, who said, “I think Jim just made some news.” He did not counter what Sensenbrenner had said or spout far right wing propaganda about intrusive government, even though Pribus is on the “usual suspects” perps list. This pairing and this behavior are worthy of some head scratching. Indeed, that the RNC convened an event to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington was in and of itself more than unusual.
The Republicans have acknowledged that they have to appeal to minorities if the R’s are to avoid becoming extinct, and have been clear that they believe that to do that they must change their image. The only thing that requires, say leading Republicans, is to craft their messages properly. There has been no acknowledgement that they are the wrong side of nearly every issue that is important to the very people whom they must attract. For the Republicans, it is all about the manipulation they can manage through word-smithing. Modify their positions on issues of importance? Not a chance.
Appropriately, the poor and those who are counted as minorities have overwhelmingly shunned the Republicans.
Now comes Sensenbrenner, committing to deliver substantive value to minorities and, oddly, the far right chair of the RNC doesn’t push back. Very strange, but try this for an explanation.
For decades the Republicans have done everything they could think of to disenfranchise, marginalize and control anyone who isn’t an old white guy. Now they are making noises as though they are going to be the flag bearers for restoration of a key liberal cause. They will claim championship and insist that they are all about supporting the little guys of America, the minorities and the poor. They will proclaim that those people should now flock to the Republican Party, the party that, no-kidding, we-really-mean-it-this-time, is really looking out for the little guys.
Crush ’em for years and then save ’em (at least a little), telling them that you’re their hero.
Sometimes conspiracy is the only explanation.
Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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