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Reich writes: "What are the three demographic groups whose electoral impact is growing fastest? Hispanics, women, and young people. Who are Republicans pissing off the most? Latinos, women, and young people."

Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)

The GOP's Death Wish

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

27 April 12


hat are the three demographic groups whose electoral impact is growing fastest? Hispanics, women, and young people. Who are Republicans pissing off the most? Latinos, women, and young people.

It’s almost as if the GOP can’t help itself.

Start with Hispanic voters, whose electoral heft keeps growing as they comprise an ever-larger portion of the electorate. Hispanics now favor President Obama over Romney by more than two to one, according to a recent Pew poll.

The movement of Hispanics into the Democratic camp has been going on for decades. What are Republicans doing to woo them back? Replicating California Republican Governor Pete Wilson’s disastrous support almost twenty years ago for Proposition 187 – which would have screened out undocumented immigrants from public schools, health care, and other social services, and required law-enforcement officials to report any “suspected” illegals. (Wilson, you may remember, lost that year’s election, and California’s Republican Party has never recovered.)

The Arizona law now before the Supreme Court – sponsored by Republicans in the state and copied by Republican legislators and governors in several others – would authorize police to stop anyone looking Hispanic and demand proof of citizenship. It’s nativism disguised as law enforcement.

Romney is trying to distance himself from that law, but it’s not working. That may be because he dubbed it a “model law” during February’s Republican primary debate in Arizona, and because its author (former state senator Russell Pearce, who was ousted in a special election last November largely by angry Hispanic voters) says he’s working closely with Romney advisers.

Hispanics are also reacting to Romney’s attack just a few months ago on GOP rival Texas Governor Rick Perry for supporting in-state tuition at the University of Texas for children of undocumented immigrants. And to Romney’s advocacy of what he calls “self-deportation” – making life so difficult for undocumented immigrants and their families that they choose to leave.

As if all this weren’t enough, the GOP has been pushing voter ID laws all over America, whose obvious aim is to intimidate Hispanic voters so they won’t come to the polls. But they may have the opposite effect – emboldening the vast majority of ethnic Hispanics, who are American citizens, to vote in even greater numbers and lend even more support to Obama and other Democrats.

Or consider women – whose political and economic impact in America continues to grow (women are fast becoming better educated than men and the major breadwinners in American homes). The political gender gap is huge. According to recent polls, women prefer Obama to Romney by over 20 percent.

So what is the GOP doing to woo women back? Attacking them. Last February, House Republicans voted to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. Last May, they unanimously passed the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” banning the District of Columbia from funding abortions for low-income women. (The original version removed all exceptions – rape, incest, and endangerment to a mother’s life – except “forcible” rape.)

Earlier this year Republican legislators in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Idaho, and Alabama pushed bills requiring women seeking abortions to undergo invasive vaginal ultrasound tests (Pennsylvania Republicans even wanted proof such had viewed the images).

Republican legislators in Georgia and Arizona passed bills banning most abortions after twenty weeks of pregnancy. The Georgia bill would also require that any abortion after 20 weeks be done in a way to bring the fetus out alive. Republican legislators in Texas have voted to eliminate funding for any women’s healthcare clinic with an affiliation to an abortion provider – even if the affiliation is merely a shared name, employee, or board member.

All told, over 400 Republican bills are pending in state legislatures, attacking womens’ reproductive rights.

But even this doesn’t seem enough for the GOP. Republicans in Wisconsin just repealed a law designed to prevent employers from discriminating against women.

Or, finally, consider students – a significant and growing electoral force, who voted overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008. What are Republicans doing to woo them back? Attack them, of course.

Republican Budget Chair Paul Ryan’s budget plan – approved by almost every House Republican and enthusiastically endorsed by Mitt Romney – allows rates on student loans to double on July 1 – from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. That will add an average of $1,000 a year to student debt loads, which already exceed credit-card debt.

House Republicans say America can’t afford the $6 billion a year it would require to keep student loan rates down to where they are now. But that same Republican plan gives wealthy Americans trillions of dollars in tax cuts over the next decade. (Under mounting political pressure, House Republicans have come up with just enough money to keep the loan program going for another year – safely past Election Day – by raiding a fund established for preventive care in the new health-care act.)

Here again, Romney is trying to tiptoe away from the GOP position. He now says he supports keeping student loans where they were. Yet only a few months ago he argued that subsidized student loans were bad because they encouraged colleges to raise their tuition.

How can a political party be so dumb as to piss off Hispanics, women, and young people? Because the core of its base is middle-aged white men – and it doesn’t seem to know how to satisfy its base without at the same time turning off everyone who’s not white, male, and middle-aged.

Robert Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen books, including "Locked in the Cabinet," "Reason," "Supercapitalism," "Aftershock," and his latest e-book, "Beyond Outrage." His 'Marketplace' commentaries can be found on and iTunes. your social media marketing partner


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+76 # BradFromSalem 2012-04-27 12:54
Add to this base that they are primarily less educated than their Democratic counterparts. This explains much of the Republican bias against education because as Senator Santorum, an educated man himself, points out colleges "indoctrinate" students to the cult of liberalism. The Senator is smart enough to know that his base who are angry that his college educated neighbor probably kept a job through the recession, are looking to blame someone. This is called redirection. So, instead of accepting the fact that those Conservatives, who act like Regular folk and don't use big words and talk about crap like nuance, don't actually have any concrete solutions to the economy. They can blame the cult of Liberals for destroying our country by taking away our rights, and telling us to kill Granma, and worst of all they ain't giving us any jobs. Oh, and where's the women?
+89 # NanFan 2012-04-27 14:34
Quoting LiberalLibertarian:
Oh, and where's the women?

You know, I used to say NO media should ever give Palin or Bachmann air time, never, ever report anything on them, but I was wrong. They were the "women" at the forefront of the GOP, and they said and did the dumbest things possible. They pushed the GOP agenda to go after women, Hispanics, and education just as they were also biting the taxpayer hand that fed their insane thinking -- Bachmann's "Pray Away the Gay" program funded partially through Medicaid.

So I say, Dr. Reich, let the GOP talk their idiocy, male or female, BUT light a frickin' fire under the arses of the Democrats to stand up and say, "Insanity!!"

I mean, really?? 400 Republican bills in the state legislatures pending to attack women's reproductive rights??? And fetuses aborted (legally, by the way) after 20 weeks need to be taken out alive?? Why? To further shame the woman? Certainly they don't truly believe the fetus at that point is viable? Maybe they're dumb enough to believe that, but this is all insane...and these bills are passing, partially because the Democrats in office are NOT doing their jobs to TRULY educate the populace about what this all really means.

My stomach is churning again....truly. Taking AWAY legislation that protects women against discrimination??

Absurd, nutty, and VERY scary.

+5 # Rita Walpole Ague 2012-04-27 19:05
"Absurd, nutty, and VERY scary." Add the words 'very effective', and you've just described karlroving dirty tricks, which is my opinion that this war on women and Hispanics is. Dr. Reich nailed it when he opined that such slamming gets Dems. out to the polls to vote for Obama. No duh?

But why (hardest question to answer) would the Greedy Old Partiers, con artists and then some, goof this way? Sorry folks, but let's not naively assume that it is a goof. Keep women and Hispanics mad as hell, and determined to return Obama for four more years could be their goal. !Es posible!
+3 # RLF 2012-04-28 07:25
It is funny how the Reps. seem to be able to stop everything by threatening the filibuster, but Dems. can never stop anything...make s you think that they realy want these s#*t laws!
+2 # Regina 2012-04-28 13:02
The filibuster has worked both ways -- the Senate Reprobates can't get their mischief through without 60 votes. Of course that mischief gets through the House, but stops at the Senate, avoiding a presidential veto which would only bring more right-wing rabidity down on us.
+11 # pbbrodie 2012-04-28 07:48
The chairman of the Republican National Committee said on one of the national talk shows, sorry, I can't remember which one, that in the last election, the Republicans won slightly over 62% of the white vote. he claims that they can continue to win elections by sustaining this 62% margin of white voters. Evidently, they are ignoring several substantial other factors that occurred during that election that heavily contributed to the major gains the Republicans made in 2010.
If it hadn't been for the huge numbers of Democratic voters who stayed home during 2010, the 62% of the white vote wouldn't have been nearly enough for them to have made the gains they did. Also, 2010 was a midterm election and without the President being elected, the voter turnout was low. Without these factors and the addition of the expected large turnout of very pissed off groups such as women, Hispanics, and young people, 62% of the white vote won't be nearly enough. Finally, without the impact of what was then a new and very highly reported Tea Party movement, the white vote isn't likely to be anywhere near as high as it was in 2010.
I believe the Republicans are making an enormous miscalculation and hope they will continue to do so and more.
What our country needs now more than anything is the largest electoral landslide in history!!!
+50 # futhark 2012-04-27 14:58
H. G. Wells who said that "History is a race between education and catastrophe."

The policies advocated by the mainstream Republicans put them firmly in the camp of promoting catastrophe, from which they themselves will not be exempted.
+15 # LiberalRN 2012-04-27 19:33
Quoting futhark:
H. G. Wells who said that "History is a race between education and catastrophe."

The policies advocated by the mainstream Republicans put them firmly in the camp of promoting catastrophe, from which they themselves will not be exempted.

Sadly, nor will the rest of us.
+6 # RLF 2012-04-28 07:26
But certainly they will profit form these catastrophes... They are too big to fail!
+13 # NanFan 2012-04-28 12:55
Quoting RLF:
But certainly they will profit form these catastrophes...They are too big to fail!

Financially, and for a short, short while. In the long run, they too will fall and very hard.

I find this all so abhorrent, that the US government, GOP and those who do NOTHING to stop them, continue to do these things that already are bringing about so much pain and suffering for all.

Oh, don't get me wrong; I'm not naive, but I still cling to, will ALWAYS cling to the fact that a true democracy means to do NO harm to it's citizens and afford equal rights to all.

Thomas Jefferson: "No [person] has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain [him/her]."

Do any of these elected people ever read the framing rhetoric of our democracy, let alone abide by it as they are making laws? They are meant to "serve and protect" ALL citizens of the US.

Right now, the Republicans are harming ALL citizens of the US, including themselves, some in the short and long run, and certainly, the rich sanctimonious GOP in the long run as well...oh, yes. And the worst of it is that many of their monetary actions are affecting the entire world's people and THEIR well-being, too.



+44 # Robert B 2012-04-27 15:10
I am hoping for an anti-Republican wipeout in November, as well as 2016, 2020, 2024, 2028.... The rabid elephant needs to be put to sleep like the Whigs.
+48 # grouchy 2012-04-27 15:28
As the great Molly Ivans pointed out in one her last essays before she died, Republicans always have to function by stomping on some minorities. So this time it's several groups! It is a habit of theirs. Or maybe an addiction? Bravo! Let us hope they pay extra for their evil this time around!
+18 # JJS 2012-04-27 17:27
Quoting grouchy:
As the great Molly Ivans pointed out .....

Thanks grouchy, I really miss her. The chicken (elephant) is rotting and I can't for the life of me understand why the voters keep voting them back in.

Must be som powerful air freshener masking the stink.
+20 # Ralph Averill 2012-04-27 17:33
Do you miss Molly as much as I do? (BTW, it's Ivins, no a.) One of the great liberal journalist/comm entators of her generation.
+37 # Texas Aggie 2012-04-27 15:45
How can a sane person understand the republican mind? The only way to predict what they will do in any situation is to see what they did in similar situations previously. There isn't any logical basis that can be used to make predictions of their behavior other than to oppose whatever "that black guy" proposes.
+30 # mikehz 2012-04-27 15:58
As usual Dr. Reich, your commentary is right on. The scary thing to watch for is how the GOP will try to package the insanity with smoke and mirrors wrapped in ideological magic. I really pray that those constituencies come through as you project, and that the rest of us WAKE UP and see the GOP framing for what it really is, a disastrous "frame up."

The GOP dogma endangers us all on so many fronts - economic, political, freedom, environment, constitutional etc. - that it staggers the imagination ... and makes me very fearful for the future of our children and granchildren.

+27 # James38 2012-04-27 16:10
Good article, but I think the title, "GOP's Death Wish" should be changed to "GOP's Stupidity Fulfillment".

Add in the ridiculous tax cuts on the rich and the other "austerity" policies cutting funding for education and family assistance and medical care and threats to Social Security and Medicaid, - all of which hurt the poor and the middle class, and you have a case of Republican Stupid that "demands fulfillment".

What we must do is keep working hard to get out the vote, and educate the public about what destructive messes the Republicans are supporting. While the Republicans are starting to lose support, the change is still precarious, since there are so many US citizens who have been duped by the Republicon Propaganda.

Romney has proven already that he will tell any lie he can think up, and repeat it until the unaware start thinking it is true. There is still real danger from "Wrongmney", and we must not become complacent.

There is also a contingent of "former" Obama supporters who have seized on whatever shortcoming they see in Obama's policies, and are getting all pumped up with indignation. We need to get those folks to calm down and look at what will happen if "Wrongmney" were to win. Awful. Far worse than what the Obama critics are moaning about. Come on everybody, work to elect a decent Congress and re-elect Obama. Then we can press him for more progress. He can listen, and change for the better.
+19 # pamitty 2012-04-27 16:13
I hope that enough republican women come to their senses and vote for Obama. He isn't perfect, but he at least tries to do the right thing. The republicans obstructed ALL of the legislation he tried to pass. They blindsided him with the oath to make him fail as their number 1 priority.
If they hadn't put "playing politics" ahead of helping the people we wound be so much better off.
I don't understand the GOP, they seem to have a blank where critical thinking and learning from mistakes should be.
It does seem like a death wish.
I hope they remain so crazily stupid until after Obama wins, then, if they can figure out which side the bread is buttered, they Could help.
That is a real big "if".
+18 # cherylpetro 2012-04-27 16:15
Republicans want to get their way, but really don't want the responsibility of being in charge! Heck, it is much easier to mess with those at the helm, but they really don't want to try and fix things up and take the heat for their own inevitable screw-ups! Basically, the Republicans don't have a clue as to what to do with the country, and don't want to get back as good as they have been giving! They are the drunk heckler at a comedy show: obnoxious, full of jabs, but if plunked on stage to try and do better then the featured act, would pee themselves a tidal wave!
+19 # JJS 2012-04-27 16:19
Maybe the GOP are expecting a Stockholm Syndrome situation where the repressed and oppressed have positive feelings towards their oppressors. This happens in some hostage situations. The hostages will actually empathize and defend the captors.
And on top of that, the spectacle of the GOP preaching "The Bible tells us this is the way it is supposed to be" gives all oppressors a "good" reason to oppress.
+32 # ABen 2012-04-27 16:25
This white male, a bit beyond age, finds the divisive and fractious approach of the current GOP repulsive and more than a little unAmerican. I will work to put Dems in office until the GOP once again champions policies that recognize the worth and equality of all U.S. citizens.
+17 # msleepyhead 2012-04-27 17:09
how can they do this? they are bankrolled. not to mention that money doesn't make one intelligent. And, stupid is as stupid does. Unfortunately stupidity, egoism, and greed are destroying our country.
+8 # lcarrier 2012-04-27 17:37
Romney has made his Procrustean bed. I say let him lie in it. Chop off a little here, a little there, and what you wind up with is (with apologies to smaller people) a midget.
+6 # bobebray 2012-04-27 17:47
i dont get it on student loans if they are loaning out money a 6.5% ( whatever)
that is 350% higher than a t bill will pay in interest. so this does not help the government?
+6 # robbeygay 2012-04-27 18:27
Lets hope for the 3 R's Robert Reich is Right and Obi won-can-no-be wrong.
+10 # Bodiotoo 2012-04-27 19:18
Another 62 year old White Guy that just does not get the Rep[ublicans at all..I come a traditional New England Republican heritage but this current party is full of Nut Jobs, plan and simple. Vote Democratic, support a thinking individual in your Congressional District...let Obama try to finish his work...but I suspect the recovery will take us into the 2016 election still lokking for the light at the end og the tunnel...
+11 # unitedwestand 2012-04-27 19:25
The GOP has proven over and over that they actually hate Americans, they only love the Americans who will help them return the country and the world before civilization. For them it was so much better when 90+% were illiterate and scrambling for crumbs.

I say let them destroy themselves with their stupidity and avarice.
+10 # Rick Levy 2012-04-27 19:35
No surprise that confidence in austerity was really a confidence game.
+8 # cvwilson 2012-04-27 20:53
What the Republicans need is about 10 to 20 years wandering in the political wilderness.
+3 # MidwestTom 2012-04-27 22:05
According to Karl Rove there is no way Obama can lose. All of the big vote states are with us.
+6 # wherefore 2012-04-27 23:01
Remember the old expression, "Crazy as a fox." They may be acting insane so that people start thinking that the election will be a cakewalk for the Democrats, who will then let down their guard. Really, very few of them truly believe in the things that they are saying and the laws which they are proposing. They are playing rope-a-dope.
+9 # BeaDeeBunker 2012-04-27 23:13
Beware the appearance of foxy slyness sheathed in dumb sheep clothing.
Yes, it is true that the GOP is constantly using their much treasured '2nd Amendment rights' to shot themselves in their feet; it's usually the 'right' foot, in keeping with their politics.
All the comments, so far, are right on the $. But, I'm looking at the big picture; the overall picture going back to 2000. The well- oiled GOP machine was ready and rearing to go. First, they 'pick' an oily guy like G.W.Bush (a cee student at his father's alma mater, Yale, with a MBA from Harvard!) to be the standard bearer of the gang. An even oilier guy named Cheney, picks himself as the Veep, but he's really going to be G. W's handler once they into the White House. They steal the election with the help of SCOTUS (not so dumb there) and start to run the 'plays' as the 'coach' told them to. They do this for 4 years. Bush, with his MBA, manages to spend the surplus and then some, while putting the Iraq war off budget. That 'stupid' GOP steals the election again in 2004, and once their 8 years are up, and they done as much damage as they could; not wanting their guys to have to clean up their own sh*t; and being so 'stupid,' they pick an aging, sick Sen. to lead the ticket, along with a true crazy, ex beauty queen to be a heartbeat away from POTUS, to win the 'prize.'
Wow, they lost; surprise, surprise! But who's left with their big pile of sh*t? Pretty smart!
-9 # Daniel1 2012-04-28 15:26
Ok this guy needs a reality check. I really dont give a rats butt if the Latino's are ticked off because we Americans dont want the border open for them to just walk in anytime they want and demand benefits and rights. I dont see the left demanding that other countries just let people in illegally. (and this is going to change as I predict that you will have the majority of the states passing an Arizona law after it is upheld by the US Supreme Court, and then the states that dont pass it, receive no more federal funding.) And Reich seemingly missed where Republicans passed a bill to stop the school loans interest rates from doubling in June, by using some of the same monies that in the same account that
Democrats used earlier this year to take money from the preventative health fund to help pay to keep doctors' Medicare reimbursements from dropping. And never mind that Obama's own budget proposed cutting $4 billion from the same fund to pay for some of the other stuff they wanted...Oh no. Since the Republicans are doing the same thing as Democrats did, now we see who is hypocritical cause it seems ok for them to do it but no one else
0 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-04-30 08:08
Quoting Daniel1:
I dont see the left demanding that other countries just let people in illegally.

Just as I don't see the right suggesting that other countries blow up political opponents in the US from remote-controll ed drones.
+4 # Unca Mikey 2012-04-28 16:45
This middle aged white man believes I'd sooner have mom working in a whore-house than let Mittens savage the country and sell off the parts to benefit the 1%. I do not want my children's generation to end up as serfs. I love Robert Reich and agree with almost everything he writes, but I am extremely frightened whenever I hear anyone even imply that this election won't be close. Yes, the Republican positions are over the edge, and it is hard to imagine anyone supporting them, but if we don't work harder than we have ever worked before, we are doomed. They are engaged in a billion dollar smear campaign, combined with voter shenanigans to steal the election. Greed and corruption is the order of the day for the GOP and I beg every sane American to register voters, support OWS, and convince those who are unhappy with the pace of change that this truly is the election of a lifetime. A Ryan budget, Romney presidency would result in pain for all but the privileged few, and the end of any chance to restore our freedom. This election isn't just a choice between two candidates, this is a referendum on whether our democracy survives.
+5 # slow_learner 2012-04-29 07:08
I hope Dr. Reich is correct when he predicts high voter turn-out -- all of us waving our photo IDs. The vote fraud of the past decade was only thwarted in 2006 and 2008 because voter turnout was so much larger and not predictable by the computer hackers. In order to keep inquiring minds dulled, the Republican wins must be close enough to be explained by middle-aged white men buying Cheney fear-mongering about terrorist attacks, a la 2004.
0 # HJ7 2012-04-29 12:47
Is it coincidence that the number of illegal aliens working in the US is about the same as the number of actual American citizens looking for work? Why evict the illegals when they keep wage rates real low and provide cheap servants for the top 1%?
+1 # Ray Kondrasuk 2012-04-29 15:44
If you haven't yet seen Stephen Colbert's take on women's issues here in Cheeseland, do check this out!

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