Rick Sanchez: Why is the GOP Still Sticking to Its Old Ways?

Rick Sanchez on why Republicans need to wake up and admit the party has hit rock bottom


Despite all the spin, Mitt Romney's blistering defeat in November wasn't just his defeat. It was a defeat for the entire GOP. More than that, it was a defeat –and a rejection– of bankrupt ideas and their positions on a host of issues, chief among them immigration.

In the days and weeks that followed, we heard a lot about the GOP having to do some "soul- searching," that they needed to figure out how to reach out to minorities, that they had to "rethink" their stance on immigration.

Republicans are still captive to the likes of Sheriff Joe, Jan Brewer, David Vitter and Jeff Sessions, and afraid of a Tea Party backlash

- Rick Sanchez

It seemed Republicans had hit rock bottom.

Yet three months later, the Republicans haven't done much soul-searching and they're not making the changes needed in order to survive as a relevant 21st century political party. Why? The Republicans still haven't hit rock bottom.

They still have their enablers telling them to stay the course, and they have ideological fundamentalists on the far right pulling them back from change, from compromise, from progress.

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Did Romney receiving only 27 percent of the Latino vote (17 points less than President Bush, and 7 points less than candidate McCain) not send the message clearly enough that the GOP is going in the wrong direction?

No. The Republicans still have more to lose –more they must lose– before they are faced with the reality that they have a problem.

A few days ago, The New York Times ran a story, "House Group Works to Present its Own Immigration Plan," that described how a super top-secret, clandestinely-selected bipartisan group of congressmen have been meeting secretly for four years to solve our nation's immigration issues. The article named the Democrats, but only guessed which Republicans might be meeting in the tree house with their secret decoder rings.

Two things struck me: firstly, four years and still no progress? And secondly, why all the secrecy?

Why couldn't the Republicans be named? Are they too ashamed to be seen as trying to compromise, or simply too afraid of the backlash?

Why weren't these Republicans being lauded as heroes, as visionaries, working to rebuild their party from November's ashes instead of hiding in the shadows like pariahs?

Because the Republicans haven't hit rock bottom.

Members of the group are apparently forbidden from speaking to reporters about their secret agenda. And even the Democrats in this secret group have remained mum to apparently not shame their Republican compadres. Heaven forbid they should be found to be discussing immigration reform with the enemy.

It all seems strange for a party trying to rebuild and reach out to Hispanics. Instead of leaked stories in The New York Times, one would think Republicans would be holding news conferences talking about how they "get it" and are working hard with Democrats to fix the country's immigration issue.

But they can't and they won't, because despite November's thumping, the inmates are still running the asylum. Republicans are still captive to the likes of Sheriff Joe, Jan Brewer, David Vitter and Jeff Sessions, and afraid of a Tea Party backlash.

But wait – the story gets better (or worse, depending on your perspective).  A recent Los Angeles Times article that read a bit like a Tom Clancy novel recounted how Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat, met Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, at the Senate gym in the wee hours of the morning to ask him to work on immigration reform.

Durbin spotted Rubio on the stationary bike and approached him: "Marco, you got to be there," Durbin said. "I want you there because of your position in the party."

I imagine this conversation in whispers, with Durbin perhaps passing Rubio a note in invisible ink. Or maybe handing him a self-destructing taped message about the mission impossible that is immigration.

A Democrat having to ask a Republican to work on immigration? Doesn't sound like a party willing to learn from November's election by working on changing themselves.

Why the secrecy?  Why a 5:30 am meeting in a gym?

More importantly, why does a Hispanic senator have to be coaxed –by a Democrat– to lead on arguably the most emotional issue for Hispanics in America? And why do Republicans not yet understand the importance of immigration reform to the future of the GOP?

Republicans are being dragged by Democrats to the edges of an issue that they should be confronting head on.

There should be no guilt, no shame and no fear in supporting immigration reform and in reaching out to Hispanics who, like the majority of Republicans, are pro-family, church-attending, hard-working people who love America.