GOP efforts at rebranding are being thwarted by their own pursuits from over the past few years, which are only now being taken up by the Supreme Court. While the Supreme Court is addressing issues like the Voting Rights Act and same-sex marriage, many Republicans are attempting to refocus the attention away from those topics, in order to appear more aligned with the voters they alienated during last year’s election. Even less constructive for the GOP rebranding campaign is their unofficial leader, Bobby Jindal’s, lackadaisical approach to rebranding: to change the GOP without changing any of its policies.
In an interview on Monday, Jindal, current Governor of Louisiana and potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate, said, “We don’t need two Democratic parties in our country. I would resist efforts in our party to try to just copy Democratic principles just because they were successful in this last election.” Jindal also “suggested that explicit GOP attempts to cater to minority groups would undermine the party’s brand.”
But the Republican vision does not align itself with the voters the party would need to appeal to in order to change its image, namely: minorities, the LGBT community, and younger voters. Right now, House Republicans are at the forefront of the effort to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal benefits for same-sex unions.
Current Republican efforts to repeal Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act would eliminate the requirement for states with a history of racial discrimination to get pre-approval from the Justice Department’s civil rights division before changing any of their voting laws.
Already, voter ID laws enacted by Republican governors under the guise of “preventing voter fraud,” impose strict photo ID requirements, cut the period for early voting, hinder voter registration and are blatant and successful attempts to disenfranchise minority voters. Yet challengers to Section 5 argue that the pre-clearance restriction is no longer applicable because racial discrimination, and the effort to prevent minorities from registering, voting, or being elected to office were abolished years ago.
Only a month ago, Jindal gave a speech calling for Republicans to “recalibrate the compass of conservatism.” He told the GOP to stop being “the stupid party,” and prompted them to make several changes that included, “stop looking backward,” and “compete for every single vote,” but his awkward comments this week contradict exactly that advice.
Alisha Mims is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.
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