Sunday, December 07, 2008

Republican Win, Republicans Fight

Republican Win, Republicans Fight: The Ethnic Undercurrents

I'm going to take a moment here and cheer for a Republican win. No, it's not April 1st.

In New Orleans, corrupt Rep. William Jefferson got knocked off by the GOP yesterday, and good riddance to the guy with 90 large in the freezer. Republican Anh Cao will go down in history as 1) the first Vietnamese-American in Congress and 2) the Michael Flanagan of 2008.

I'd rather have a Democrat in the seat, of course. It's better to battle such things out in the primary. But New Orleans Dems tried twice and the field splintered. So in this case, a Republican win was the best outcome. A Kos diarist says it best: "We'll probably knock him out in 2010 (it's a D+28 district), but losing one seat for one term is a price I'm willing to pay to get Jefferson out of office."

Back in grad school, I taught logic, and when you argue from the universal (all A are B), you're on dangerous ground. Only one counter-example, one B that is not A, disproves your whole argument. And that's the problem with party loyalty tests: they argue that EVERY member of your party, under EVERY conceivable circumstance, is better than EVERY member of any other party. In this case, party loyalty is less important than eliminating the embarrassment that was Jefferson, and there's your counter-example. As the Ramones said, glad to see you go, go, go, go, goodbye.

On this end of the Mississippi, Iowa Republicans are grappling with their own loyalty issue. At the Iowa GOP state central committee meeting. RNC member Kim Lehman was censured on an 8-7 vote for comments the Iowa Right To Life (sic) newsletter made about Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

The battle is playing itself out in public. "Kim Lehman has completely shredded her credibility as a leader in our party," writes Miller-Meeks campaign manager political director Todd Versteegh in the comments at Hawkeye GOP. "She CLEARLY stated at the State Convention that as National Committeewoman she would support all Republican candidates..and then she publicly and falsely attacked a Republican nominee 20 DAYS out from the general election."

The Republican central committee also set the state chair election for Jan. 10. Many candidates have emerged and the Republican blogs Questions Comments Insults and Hawkeye GOP have better roundups than I can provide.

One ticket is headed by longtime activist Gopal Krishna, with Polk County chair Ted Sporer for co-chair. (Why do Republicans in Iowa call their number two person a "co-chair" instead of a "vice-chair"?) From what I can gather, Krishna is a strong personality and there's folks who don't like him.

Krishna's ethnic background may also be a factor. Commentator kbf of linn at Krusty Konservative noted Krishna's accent and said: "It's hard to understand people that has accent. We have a former house candidate here in Linn County and it was hard to understand her. who knows if that was the reason why she lost?"

The remark clearly refers to House 29 candidate Emma Nemecek, a native of the Philippines. Contrast this with Louisiana, where Cao's win gives the Republicans a little diversity; other than Cao and the three south Florida Cuban-Americans, the House Republicans are all white Anglo.

Renee at Essential Estrogen was quick to react. "Emma Nemecek has an accent. So does George Bush for that matter KBF, and sometimes someone had to interpret what he was saying to us. Gonna complain about that too? Why don't you get up and do something instead of nailing Emma to the wall?"

Nemecek may also have lost because House 29 is half in the People's Republic of Johnson County and because her opponents, Ro Foege and Nate Willems, were good candidates. An accent doesn't seemed to have kept Democrat Swati Dandekar from three wins in a nearby district. In fact, she suffered an email attack on her ethnicity just before her first election, and that backfired badly enough that the state GOP pulled the plug on her opponent.

America is changing, and not to the GOP's advantage. One of the few things I'll give W credit for is that in his early and mid terms he at least paid lip service to making the GOP more diverse.

Karl Rove is evil, but not stupid. Back when W was running for governor he looked at Texas demographics and saw the Hispanic percentage increasing, and realized that a lily-white GOP is not viable in the long run

Unfortunately for the Republicans, they don't have much left but the base. And the base is Know-Nothing on immigration and diversity. We forget how hot the immigration fight was in the summer of 2007, and post-Postville it's sure to flare up again.

The Republican base doesn't like to hear the person in front of them in the Wal-Mart line speaking Spanish, and in its guts likes Tom Tancredo's simplistic 'enforce the law' "solution". To me that sounds like code for "round them up and send them back," somehow extricating 11 million undocumented Americans from the society, culture, and economy.

The struggle over race and diversity in America isn't over just because we've elected a black president. A more ethnically diverse GOP, with more Anh Caos and Emma Nemeceks, might be bad for the Democrats electorally, but it would be good for America.

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