If Republicans need any more evidence to see why they need to get out of the way of or onto the immigration reform train before it’s too late, they need only look to that annual rite of sports-lovin’, corporate, Americany fest of Americaness, the Super Bowl (and, oh yeah, concussions), which conservatives now routinely end up protesting because of one commercial or another that either features people who don’t only speak English, aren’t white enough, boink the wrong people or are cheering for the future of America in a way that might somehow, someway redound as praise to something Barack Obama may have had something to do with. The latest example is conservative outrage over last night’s multicultural ad from Coca Cola, the well-known subversive force in American life.
Remember, this comes after that Clint Eastwood Super Bowl ad for the Chrysler comeback two years which similarly stirred conservative outrage.
But the response to yesterday’s ad points directly to immigration reform and the broader challenge of taking the GOP out of at least perceived opposition to the various new and rising ethnic communities pressing for their full place in American life: mainly Hispanics (judged by electoral significance) but Asian-Americans, South Asian-Americans, Arab-Americans and everybody who’s arrived here in the last half century.
Republicans have been able to bottle up immigration reform in the House for the last year despite strong public support, reasonably strong Republican support and the determined judgment of Republican political professionals that the party at least needs to get this issue off the table before it can get about building a strong constituency among these various groups for the decades to come.
The key though is that the people who control the House aren’t necessarily vulnerable to those trends. Much attention has been given to the GOP’s very successful 2010 gerrymandering. But that’s actually only part of the story. Republicans were able to hold on to a fairly substantial House majority in 2012 while getting just over a million fewer votes than the Democrats. Part of that was redistricting. But at least as much was the increasing geographical organization of partisan affiliation. Put simply, Democrats are increasingly concentrated in urban and urban/suburban districts. That means Democrats frequently “waste” votes in the districts they win while losing many districts by relatively close margins. In other words, the country’s demography and geography, not just redistricting, give Republicans a substantial advantage in controlling the House. Democratic voters aren’t distributed in the most effective way.
So the House is the GOP’s anchor. But anchor can mean different things: the sure thing that keeps them in the game, as it has since 2010, or the dead weight that pulls them more and more out of touch with the new currents shaping America.
This Super Bowl thing, as goofy as it sounds, is a good example of a real and deep problem.
I saw this quip last night on Twitter …
Who’s delivering the Republican response to the Super Bowl?
— Simon Owens (@simonowens) February 3, 2014
If you’re running against the Super Bowl, you’re losing.