According to freedictionary, outreach means “the act of reaching out.” This is a foreign concept to the Republican Party. They have been in the business of alienating people for so long, that even those who see the merit in changing with the times in the name of political expediency struggle with the concept. Others seem to think that outreach either means uttering your racial slurs, sexist and homophobic statements with a smile or proposing bigoted policies with pretty sounding names.
If Steve King and Jim Inhoffe got the outreach memo, they fall in the latter group. They introduced the latest version of an English only act calling it English Language Unity Act (with 37 Republican and 2 conservative Democratic co-sponsors in the House of Representatives) and also has five Republican Senators as co-sponsors.
The law requires “all official functions of the United States to be conducted in English.” Contrary to its name, this has absolutely little to do with unity. Among other things, this law is a backdoor attack on voting rights, because nothing says unity like trying to suppress a targeted group’s right to vote.
Think Progress reports:
“One major impact King’s bill could have is to stop the decades-long practice of printing non-English ballots in areas where there’s a significant non-English language group. Indeed, Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 currently requires local jurisdictions with a substantial number of non-English speakers to allow them to vote in other languages.”
Voter ID laws, restrictions on or eliminating early voting and same day registration were intended to target the groups of people most likely to take advantage of those provisions. Studies prove the likelihood that these laws make it harder for the targeted groups to vote. Aside from the fact that people in the targeted groups are less likely to have the state required ID, a new study by Washington University – St. Louis, shows the discriminatory nature by which these laws were applied to young voters during the 2012 Election. According to the study:
Black (72.9 percent) and Latino (60.8 percent) youth were asked to show identification before being allowed to vote at disproportionately higher rates than white youth (50.8 percent).
Black (65.2 percent) and Latino youth (57.0 percent) were also asked to show photo identification at significantly higher rates than white youth (42.3 percent).
Even in states that don’t have voter ID laws, 65.5 percent of Black youth were asked to show identification when voting, compared with 55.3 percent of Latino youth and 42.8 percent of white youth.
According to the study, while 5% of young white voters were discouraged because of voter ID laws, 17.3% of young Blacks and 8.1% of young Latinos said they didn’t vote because they didn’t have proper identification.
Since the election, there has been an epidemic of voter suppression laws. On Tuesday, Arkansas‘ governor signed their version of a war on the voter bill. On Wednesday, Virginia joined the pack. North Carolina’s “moderate” Republican Governor had a busy week in outreach. As Sarah Jones reported, he decided to close the State’s Latino outreach office. Meanwhile, his compatriots in the State House introduced their version of a voter suppression bill.
Of course, these efforts at outreach pale in comparison to the effort to gut the Voting Rights Act under the pretense that racist voting laws are in the past.
Hey, just because Republicans keep passing laws that make it harder for people in some racial groups to vote and apply those laws disproportionately to those groups, that doesn’t the Department of Justice should have oversight over the states that have a long history of racist voting laws.
In a separate attempt at outreach, North Carolina’s State House flew the confederate flag to mark the sesquicentennial of the Civil War for a week, but hey, they’re taking it down after civil rights leaders raised concerns. Of course, no one in the new outreaching Republican Party could have seen that reaction coming.
In the end, the Republican Party’s outreach to immigrants and American born racial minorities will continue to fall short because the fact remains that Republicans on a fundamental level don’t respect immigrants, racial minorities, or for that matter women and the LGBT community.
It’s the absence of respect that makes it possible for Republicans to believe that sending people to rape boot camp to “fix mistakes” is a better way to reach out to women then say recognizing that rape is a crime and the only person who is at fault is the rapist. The small government talking point might have more credibility if Republicans stopped passing increasingly draconian laws to nationalize women’s vaginas.
It’s the absence of respect that makes it possible for Republicans to believe saying thank you for picking our food while claiming that immigrants are takers – especially since the data proves that immigrants are, in fact, the “makers” that Republicans say they love so much. If Republicans really wanted to be taken seriously by immigrants, they wouldn’t spend time trying to make voting harder, or impossible, making up Nazistic drivers’ licenses or pushing English only laws. Instead, they would spend more time on job creation, recognizing that anyone who works needs a living wage (which will also benefit the economy) and immigration reform. If they really want to think outside the box, Republicans could think of recruiting people who recognize that “wetback” was never acceptable.
While some Republicans may be “evolving” toward recognizing marriage equality, claiming that same sex relationships are akin to bestiality or blaming the LGBT community for “half of all murders” only reaffirm the presence of homophobia in the Republican Party. If they were serious about outreach to the LGBT community, Republicans wouldn’t have taken up the cause of defending of the unconstitutional DOMA. For that matter, they wouldn’t insist on gay Republicans staying in the closet, while others make homophobic statements.
Obviously the GOP continues to cling to the illusion that continuing to hate and oppress is okay, as long as they do it with a smile. The thing is the adverse effect of the GOP’s sexist, racist and homophobic attitudes and policies extend beyond the groups most directly affected.
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Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.