Why is it that so many racists, homophobes, misogynists, and other rightwing nincompoops come to ground in Missouri? The latest to break silence is the “conservative icon,” as TPM styles her, Phyllis Schlafly, she of the poisonous Eagle Forum which, in its mission statement, manages to justify use of all the labels I used in my first sentence. Seems Schafly thinks that the the message of the GOP’s 2012 electoral losses does not justify outreach to minorities. In fact, she thinks that what is needed is more outreach to white Americans:
The Hispanics who have come in like this will vote Democrat and there’s not the slightest bit of evidence that they will vote Republican,” Schlafly said on “Focus Today.” “And the people the Republicans should reach out to are the white votes, the white voters who didn’t vote in the last election and there are millions of them.”
Schlafly told PolicyMic she believes that Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election because “his drop-off from white voters was tremendous” and the GOP doesn’t “know how to relate to grassroots Americans.”
Where to begin? First, one is struck by the fact that the accounts of Schlafly’s pronouncements that I have read so far focus rather narrowly on the fact that she is diverging from the common wisdom that the GOP needs to shift its ground in regard to Latinos before it is swallowed up by demographic change. This response is justified to an extent since Schlafly seems to believe that Latinos and other minorities will always be inclined to regard the GOP and its policies as anathema. It also makes it clear indirectly that to diehards like Schlafly, there’s no room to contemplate tailoring GOP policies to appeal to other than change-averse, mostly elderly white folks.
But there’s something else interesting that’s implied by Schlafly’s contempt for minority outreach. Her Republican Party is, simply put, a white man’s party. She’s basically affirming what we all knew or suspected all along: the GOP stands for white privilege.
Where Schlafly errs, however, is in her assumption that “whiteness” is somehow monolithic and that it characterizes “grassroots Americans.” Lots of us white folks are just as revolted by the radical social Darwinism, Christian triumphalism, conspiracy-mongering and exclusionary policies of today’s GOP as any minority, and all the outreach in the world wouldn’t bring us into their nasty little fold (nor are all or even a majority of us who hold such views “feeding from the government trough,” as one of my rightwing neighbors puts it, either). Where I grew up, the grassroots came in a variety of colors and represented a wider range of interests and beliefs than today’s GOP, at least as exemplified by the self-identified grass-roots expert, Phyllis Schlafly, is capable of comprehending.
Slightly edited for clarity; spelling of Phyllis Schlafly’s name regularized.