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So much hope was alive mere days and weeks ago. So much possibility. A low thrum of murmuring was audible up and down the corridors and streetcorners of Washington, DC, the quiet voices of people hinting, proposing, suggesting, that the GOP…no, no, not yet. It might be scared away. Shadowed figures whispered in dark corners, “Could it be?” “Yes, it could.” “Maybe, just maybe.” The echoing clap of shoes moving in an empty parking garage; trenchcoat-ed forms, and tinted windows moving briskly through the street. Anything too loud and the possibility might be scared away – it was hard enough to believe it could be real these days. Secret meetings and backchannel reconnaissance. Penthouse suites and smoke-filled back rooms. Could the GOP have really learned something from the drubbing they took in 2012? Could they be preparing to make – gulp! – changes? Maybe, it seemed, just maybe. Yeah, we all enjoyed our trip to Crazytown, but now it’s time to re-pack the station wagon, load up the kids, and drive back to Reality, USA. It could be happening! There was so much hope! I was so (cautiously) optimistic!

And then this happened…

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Republican Party honchos who huddled here for their first big gathering since the election devoted lots of time talking about the need to welcome Latinos and women, close the technology gap with Democrats and stop the self-destructive talk about rape.

But the party’s main problem, dozens of Republican National Committee members argued in interviews over three days this week, is who delivers its message and how, not the message itself. Overwhelmingly they insisted that substantive policy changes aren’t the answer to last year’s losses.

No, of course not. Just the message. It’s just an image problem, that’s all. Nothing wrong at all with any of our backwards-ass, regressive, and puritanical policies, or any of the voter-alienating Attila-the-hun candidates we’ve been running. Just give ’em a good spit-shine and we’re good to go!

Moderation, at least at this stage, is no virtue at the RNC.

Hell, virtues aren’t a virtue at the RNC.

“It’s not the platform of the party that’s the issue,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said Friday after being easily reelected to a second, two-year term. “In many cases, it’s how we communicate about it. It is a couple dumb things that people have said.”

In all seriousness, if this is what he actually thinks, this is scary. This is kool-aid-drinking self-delusion at its finest and most complete. I’m assuming, however, that it’s actually an attempt to downplay the problem, a ploy to make them look not as out-of-control. But the thing is, if you’re on a plane that’s going down, and that plane just lost its first engine and second wing, and there’s a big gaping whole in the side that people are being sucked out of to certain death, and you’re clinging for dear life to a seat-back as your legs are pulled towards the opening, and your hair is on fire, and if at that moment you calmly say, “well this is not a good day,” with no hint of irony, you begin to look unavoidably psychotic, and people will start backing away from you slowly.

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Small Dip Seen In Unemployment Numbers, First Drop Since January
As has been widely reported, the face of the American electorate is changing. This has never been so well exemplified as it was on November 6, 2012, when a majority of Democrats across the country and across the broad spectrum of elected office were swept to victory on a tide of minorities, women, and special interests that segments of the GOP had either offended, marginalized, or persecuted – or all of the above. Their success has been recognized as marking a new era in American politics, as the broad base on which politicians depend shifts and teems with new life and newfound influence. The demographic ground is shifting tectonically under our feet, and intends to continue its current trends, according to NPR:

Paul Taylor, director of the Social & Demographic Trends project at the Pew Research Center in Washington, says the country is on a trajectory to become a majority nonwhite nation by the early 2040s. Today it’s 63 percent white; by 2020 it will be about 60 percent white.

The forecasts made by Taylor are based on immigration trends, birthrates and mortality rates. “As the complexion of the population changes,” he says, “so too will the complexion of the electorate. In 2012 it was 28 percent nonwhite, a record. By 2020 it will be more than 30 percent nonwhite.”

This may not seem like a big shift, until you realize that Obama won the presidency by a 3.7 percentage point margin over Romney. Single points can make a huge difference in electoral politics. From the Pew Research Center:

The minority groups that carried President Obama to victory yesterday by giving him 80% of their votes are on track to become a majority of the nation’s population by 2050, according to projections by the Pew Research Center. They currently make up 37% of the population, and they cast a record 28% of the votes in the 2012 presidential election, according to the election exit polls.

By 2050, the Hispanic share of the U.S. population could be as high as 29%, up from 17% now. The black proportion of the population is projected to rise slightly to 13%, while the Asian share is projected to increase to 9% from its current 5%. Non-Hispanic whites, 63% of the current population, will decrease to half or slightly less than half of the population by 2050.

These minority groups gave eighty percent of their vote to Obama, and have traditionally voted Democratic in similar numbers before Obama came along. This means that a drastic increase in their numbers over the next couple decades provides a drastic increase in the Democratic base, and in votes for Democratic candidates (and depending on how Obama’s plans for immigration reform pan out, the shift could have an even greater impact). That is, unless Republicans can reform their image in an effective and timely manner, and shed or at least marginalize the more extreme elements that make them unappealing to, well, everyone but themselves. The party of old, white and ostensibly self-made men is severely lacking in minorities, and perhaps cripplingly so (just take a look at the famous national convention photos of the two parties side-by-side; the Dems are an array of color, while the Reps are indistinguishable from one another). A major overhaul is needed. They need a leader to do this, and whoever emerges as the face of the New Republican Party could very well be their nominee in 2016.

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We’ve got to stop being the stupid party. It’s time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults. We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. I’m here to say we’ve had enough of that.

– Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal – a Republican – in his keynote address at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting, as reported by the Washington Post.

(More on this interesting and much-anticipated development later.)

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