A few months ago, there was very little for Republicans to be optimistic about. After the Presidential election, their focus was on how to revive and grow their party in order to make a better showing in 2016—or maybe even in the 2014 midterm elections.
The first solution they seemed agree upon was courting Hispanic voters with immigration reform. This was not a bad idea, and prominently featuring Marco Rubio as the face of GOP immigration reform (as well as the face of a new minority-friendlier party) was pretty good too. However, somewhere along the way, things on the immigration reform front started falling apart. Maybe it was the amnesty vs. no amnesty debate; maybe it was the realization that just about any proposal to create policies that were favorable to undocumented Hispanics would only create more Democratic voters.
More likely is the explanation that Republicans scrapped the original plan when they got distracted by what looked like an easier path to recovery, a path some might call the low road.
Currently, Republicans seem far less interested in their own deficiencies and far more interested in trying to highlight and augment those of the President—not the Democratic Party, mind you—just the recently elected, second term, “lame duck” President. This is not to say that the internal problems of the executive branch do not merit any attention from Republicans, but it is no coincidence that the GOP is abandoning immigration reform at the same time it is devoting so much time and attention to investigations and accusations. Fixing their party from within with sensible policy adjustments is now a tertiary concern for both Republican leaders and their rank and file.
The ultimate ends of fanning scandal flames are well worth questioning. Even if the GOP saw their greatest wish come true and Obama were to be impeached (not gonna happen), Republicans would still be stuck with a demographically challenged party. So why all the attention on the President?
It is tough to blame Republicans for their tactics. They did just watch Obama win an election based on what was essentially a negative campaign. They must be thinking, “If it worked for them…” But the Democratic Party is young, diverse, and growing; therefore, it has much less immediate need for self-improvement and can afford strategies that focus on the inherent weaknesses of conservative candidates rather than the strengths of liberal ideology. If Republicans want to survive, they cannot afford to play that game. They need to pass (or at least propose) at least one significant piece of reasonable legislation for two very important reasons: to prove that there is more to their party than paranoid fear mongering and to shake the well deserved stigma of a party that is more content with obstruction than solutions.
Immigration reform was a perfect opportunity for GOP redemption, but it is not the only fixable problem in America.
Even without immigration reform, there is still a chance for the GOP to start a recovery process that is actually policy-based. Of course Republicans will have to call off the dogs on the scandal hunt and concede that Obama is not the top-down tyrant they have painted him as for four years. They would have to admit that the evidence doesn’t show Obama is the kind of dictator who dictates every decision that comes out of Washington, a narrative quite contrary to the one they have been telling for years. If they could just settle for the out-of-touch administrator characterization instead, Boehner, McConnell, and company could move on to creating and proposing legislative solutions to American problems. Solutions that extend beyond filibusters and symbolic votes in the House. Solutions to gun violence, incarceration rates, education, tenuous foreign relations, etc.
Now, I may not personally have faith in Republican leaders or conservative ideology to tackle America’s problems, but for the GOP to stand a puncher’s chance, those leaders will at least have to prove their own faith in conservative ideology with actual policy proposals that attempt to do something rather than nothing.