Marco Rubio, life of the party
Hard to argue with Glenn Beck's assessment of the Republican Party when he proclaimed at the Conservative Political Action Conference, "I don't even know what they stand for anymore. And they've got to realize that they have a problem: 'Hello, my name is the Republican Party, and I've got a problem. I'm addicted to spending and big government.'" Finally an acknowledgment that the GOP had a role to play in the nation's current financial bind.
And then he went off the rails, not that I'm surprised.
"But as of yet I haven't heard anyone say that," Beck added. "All they're talking about is: 'We need a big tent. We need a big tent. Can we get a bigger tent? How can we get a big tent?'....What is this, a circus?" That's dangerous language. Beck might have meant to criticize those who want more ideological diversity in the GOP. But it sounds like he is condemning any push to diversify the party, including in racial terms. Sending off those signals is exactly what the party doesn't need to do.
Indeed, after losing the support they had with Hispanics under President George W. Bush, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and others within the party are trying to win them back. And who could blame them? The Hispanic population is expected to increase nearly 200 percent by 2050. But the fiery rhetoric of the immigration debate is a problem for Republicans. As Steele told The Post, "That's the word that got back to folks on the street: 'They don't want us.'" Former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie pointed out in the story why the GOP must do a better job reaching out. "If the current voting percentages among white, black, Asian and Hispanic stay the same," Gillespie said, "the Republican nominee will lose by 14 points in 2020. We have to be more competitive."
Marco Rubio, a favorite of the Tea Party movement who is giving Florida Gov. Charlie Crist a run for his money for the Republican nomination for Senate, is showing how competitive the GOP can be if it is careful to welcome diversity. As Kathleen Parker wrote yesterday, "Rubio's parents came to America to escape Castro's cruel tyranny. You don't have to weep Glenn Beck tears -- or descend into bellicosity with words such as 'fascism' or 'socialism' -- when your life is a metaphor for the anti-Obama movement." She went on to say that "Rubio represents something important for a party for which diversity has meant hiring a mariachi band for the convention." If the Republican Party that Beck supports wants to be a national party again, its advocates have to send signals that encourage the other Rubios out there that they are welcome, instead of indulging in overheated hand-wringing about the "circus" more diversity would bring.
| February 22, 2010; 11:20 AM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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