The Republican Party’s approval rating hit historic lows after it foolishly shut down the government and took us to the brink of default.
In the aftermath of that, it’s easy to point to the #DefundObamacare strategy as the reason why Republican’s are so disliked by the majority of Americans. But that only is the tip of the iceberg. Republicans have systematically shot down every policy proposed by President Obama and Senate Democrats.
This nihilism worked when Democrats were focused on raising taxes and spending money, but as they have proposed more popular policies, Republican opposition has become a political liability. This year has seen the party’s popularity taken accordingly.
Three policies tell the story: universal background checks, increasing the minimum wage and immigration reform. All three have the broad support of the public and all three were dismissed by the Republican Party.
Here’s the polling::
More than 90% of the public supports universal background checks. It’s almost impossible for a policy to become more popular than that, but Republicans wouldn’t even let it get out of the Senate, much less the House. Almost nine out of 10 Republicans supported it, but that was not enough.
Increasing the minimum wage is another policy that has broad support across party lines. 50 six per cent of Republicans supporting doing so and three quarters of independents do. Yet, Senate Democrats haven’t made much of a push to raise it as it would never stand a chance of passing. The GOP is not going to allow the passage of legislation that is clearly against the interest of big business (to a lesser extent, Democrats are guilty of this as well).
On immigration, the majority of Americans want reform that would give legal status to illegal immigrants. Nearly two-thirds of Republicans support it. Yet, over the last couple of days, congressional Republicans have quietly killed immigration reform and the likelihood of anything passing during an election year is small.
Taken together, these three pieces of legislation exemplify why the Republican Party is disliked by most Americans. They refuse to pass anything, even if it is supported by a majority in their own party. The party simply isn’t listening to the American people. Obamacare offers the GOP one area where it at least earns significant support for its policy goal (repeal), but even so, the radical strategies it has used to accomplish that goal has undermined that support.
This is why immigration reform is not going to solve the Republican Party’s problem with Hispanics. It will help marginally, but to make deep inroads with them and other demographics that are increasingly becoming Democratic stalwarts, they need to turn their attention to broader policies that have vast support.
The clear complication with this strategy is that it will infuriate tea party conservatives that have an outsized role in Republican primaries. The party cannot afford to partake in a nasty civil war. This puts them in a nearly impossible position. To save the party from political ruin, Republicans must support mainstream policies, but doing so will betray the tea party. Either the party continues to lose the faith of the American people or it goes after its conservative base. Neither option is particularly appealing.
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