Friday, August 07, 2009

GOP's Reverse LBJ Moment

When President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law he notoriously worried that he was condemning his party, the Democratic Party, into the political wilderness in the Southern US. LBJ hoped that a coalition of liberals, women and minorities (in other words the Obama coalition) could eventually be electorally successful. He was both correct in his gloom and vindicated in his hopes for history. I somehow doubt the Republicans who voted against Justice Sonia Sotomayor today will be somehow vindicated in their decisions. It is not that Hispanic-Americans are so politically shallow that they would take the Republican rejection of Sotomayor as reason to not vote Republican. It is that this vote for many Hispanics will only confirm what they've been thinking ever since George W. Bush's immigration amnesty died under Republican pressure: the Republican Party has no interest in courting Hispanic voters. The vote today is not all that important in the lives of most Americans. The replacing of one left-leaning justice with another will not fundamentally change the nature of the Supreme Court. The symbolism of 31 Republican senators saying that the first Latina nominee for Supreme Court was somehow unqualified to serve is much more significant. LBJ could take solace in the fact that he was doing the right thing, the political consequences be damned. What are the Republicans taking solace in today?

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