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November 20, 2013

Danger lurks for GOP in 2016

The Daily Star

---- — A few weeks ago, all seemed dark for the future of the Republican Party after it was blamed — rightly so — for the shutdown of the government and the near defaulting of the country’s debts. 

The far-right element of the party had cowed Speaker of the House John Boehner and the GOP members of the House and Senate who were more interested in governing than in being against anything President Barack Obama might support. 

The national polling was ugly for the Republicans, and you couldn’t find too many pundits who thought the party had much of a future. 

But through the doom and gloom came first a shimmer and then a beam of light, and finally the bright sunshine of Obama’s flubbed rollout of the Affordable Care Act, followed in short order by the protests of millions of Americans who had lost their health care insurance because of Obamacare. 

Now, those same pundits aren’t giving the Democrats much chance in the 2014 elections or, for that matter, in the presidential race in 2016. 

It just goes to show how quickly things can change in politics. But lurking beneath the headlines of the day — like the bump-bump, bump-bump, bump-bump music from Jaws as the shark circles its victim from under the water’s surface — is danger for the GOP. 

Just a year ago, the wise men and women of the Republican Party did a post-mortem after being on the short end of the popular vote for the fifth time in the last six presidential elections. 

They looked at the analysis of exit polls in 2012 by the Pew Hispanic Center and saw that Obama had received 71 percent of the Hispanic vote to only 27 percent for Mitt Romney. 

They looked at the growing Hispanic demographic, particularly in such swing stakes as Florida, Colorado and Nevada, and decided that if their party ever expected to win the presidency again, it had better support immigration reform. 

So, what has happened? 

In June, the Democratic Party-controlled Senate passed an immigration bill with the support of 14 Republicans. All the Democrats voted for the bill. Since its passage, Democrats have urged Boehner to allow a vote in the House, where chances are good that it would pass. 

But last week, Boehner — again refusing to stand up to the tea party zanies in his party who want to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants — said he won’t allow the bill to come to the floor.

Memory of the government shutdown and the health care rollout will fade in time. But Hispanic voters won’t forget who they feel is for them … and who’s against them … for a long, long time.