Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How may minority constituencies can the GOP alienate?

While President made the right call regarding the construction of the mosque and Islamic Cultural Center a few blocks away from Ground Zero (citing that if it conforms to the local building codes, ordinances, and laws, there is no reason why it shouldn't be built), his retreat from his statement, that he didn't say it was a wise decision for it to be build there, has opened the door for the GOP demagoguery once again. 

The Muslim population is not very large in the United States, but it does make up a sizable part of several communities in places like New York, Detroit, New Jersey, and Minneapolis.  The GOP was very conscience of reprisal and bigotry directed towards Muslims right after 9/11, and went to great lengths to embrace the Muslim community and show support for those that peacefully live in the United States.  Heading into the final months of an election year, you can add Muslims to the long list of minorities that the GOP proudly alienates. 

African Americans haven't been supporters of the GOP since passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts.  Hispanics were once a major part of the GOP's conservative faith base and for it's position on Cuba.  This has now changed with their hard line, if not militant position, on boarder security and illegal immigration.  Now Muslim, who for all intents and purposes share many conservative positions with the GOP, are not from the right faith and are all painted with the same brush as the extremists who attacked the United States on 9/11. 

The potential benefit of introducing another wedge issue into an already contentious election season, that of radical Islam bent on destroying America, may very well come back to haunt them.  One of the few voices of reason in the GOP, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, is warning the rest of his fellow Republicans (and Democrats), stop using the mosque as a "political football" which is casting a pox on both political parties. 

At some point, distressed Americans will take stock of the cost of all the racial and identity politics and stop pointing the finger of blame.  When the dust settles, and if Republicans are back in control of Congress, the damage will be done and the short term gains made by GOP politics of divisiveness will further confine them to the place they've been heading for 20 years.  A regional party located in the Deep South. 

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