Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 9, 2013

Stephen Dick: Dems, this is no time to be cocky

CNHI News Service

---- — Democrats and their backers seem to have gotten a little cocky lately.

It’s hard to hold it against them. After all, they’ve been carpet men and women for years -- walked all over by Republicans. So they can be forgiven in their delight at watch Republicans vow with fingers crossed to be better toward people they can’t stand.

As bone-headed as the Republicans are in their tone-deaf handling of issues that might make them human, some of them are trying to reach out to people they wouldn’t normally acknowledge because they genuinely want to repent from their Machiavellian ways. Nah, scratch that. What they really want is a more diverse electorate voting for them and return the White House to old, white conservatives that will make the world safe for the capitalists unlike that evil income redistributor President Obama.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman recently came out backing gay marriage because his son is gay. That made a lot of headlines, but, really, it takes the subject of homosexuality hitting that close to home to squeeze a little empathy out of hardened culture warriors of the right?

Republicans are even flirting with a national immigration bill that might, gasp, offer up citizenship to all who are in the country illegally. Sen.Marco Rubio, the right-wing Florida Cuban and Jeb Bush protege, wants to run for president in 2016 and courting people who look like him might be a good idea. But, man, he just can’t bring himself to offer up that citizenship and wants to slow down the pace of immigration, just as the Supreme Court might not want to make sweeping judgment about gay marriage.

The changes in America are just going too darn fast for reactionaries who still favor the old white, suburban times of the 1950s, even suck ups like Rubio who doesn’t want to upset his new pals in the Senate.

While the Republicans are doing this laughable soul-searching, or vote searching, they are still tightening the screws of austerity on the working classes and loving every minute of it. It’s one thing to grudgingly court people of color and backslide on social issues like gay marriage, but it’s quite another to pass economic policies that might help their new objects of adoration.

In the midst of all this, Democrats are having a great time watching their adversaries stumble around trying to find the door to the 21st century and civility. But if the Democrats think that Republicans are too mentally constipated to ever get the vote from minorities, gays, women and young people, they might want to think again.

It’s true that Republican sincerity is as thin as tissue paper, and it’s also true that intellectually challenged teabaggers will continue to pull their Republican turncoats to the right, but Democrats cannot afford to sit back and let the Republicans self-destruct as much fun as it is to watch. Republicans are turning states like mine, Indiana, into antebellum laboratories that prey on women and minorities while coddling the rich.

That is precisely what Democrats need to keep telling the electorate. Despite Republicans sucking up to immigrants and winking and nodding to social issues they despise, it is the economic policy that will prove ruinous to people who have been left behind the 8-ball of Wall-Street-induced recession.

It doesn’t help matters that Obama’s own version of the budget calls on austerity and turns its back on two bedrock, popular Democratic foundations — Social Security and Medicare. That’s no way to woo the electorate in 2014 and could prove fatal to the Democrats’ hope of retaking the House.