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Originally published August 1, 2013 at 4:07 PM | Page modified August 2, 2013 at 7:17 AM

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Reality check for the GOP

Welcome the Republican Party’s 50-state strategy for upcoming campaigns. Deciphering what the party stands for is long overdue.

Times editorial columnist

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The Republican National Committee’s announcement of a 50-state strategy to promote the party is great news. Somebody has to explain the bizarre behavior of the GOP on Capitol Hill.

House Republicans have been getting lots of ink lately. Mostly its “Born to Lose” tattoos on their forearms. If someone can explain a coherent theme or purpose of their legislative outlook, please step forward.

Virtually every party platform, or political reflex, runs counter to public opinion on topics from immigration to same-sex marriage, to environmental and social issues.

The congressional approval rating is at 16 percent. All of the noise about budget cuts and fiscal integrity is mocked by the GOP’s unwillingness to invest in roads, bridges, airports or maintain what exists.

The essence of the budget sequester was not to make any distinctions or hard choices. Just cut everything and shrug off the erosion and chaos that follows.

The next step is the GOP’s pledge to refuse to adopt any spending plan with money for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. If the federal government shuts down after Sept. 30, so be it.

Simply put, Republicans are terrified what they demean as Obamacare will work. They see no need to help provide health care for millions of Americans, or, for that matter, help feed hungry families.

The GOP budget would cut clean-water grants by 83 percent, and overall Environmental Protection Agency spending by 34 percent. Education grants for poor kids would go down by 16 percent.

Seattle’s discussions about homeless camps will become all the more acute if GOP reductions for housing and social programs became a reality.

Everyone seems eager to give millennials advice, so here is this boomer’s suggestion. Pay attention to the details about cuts in government spending.

Instead of saving the twenty-something generation future tax dollars, the bill for repairs and improvements to basic infrastructure, education and environmental improvements is being avoided by the “I’ve got mine” crowd in Congress.

Roads and bridges to move goods to markets and get people to work are nonpartisan. The contents of the trucks and the destination of vehicles is not a political issue, but roadways, transit, and ports are basic, along with the investment and maintenance that goes with them.

One measure of GOP congressional obliviousness for me has been the party’s obstruction of an immigration bill. I was taken with the recent story about Nielsen TV ratings, with Spanish-language Univision ranked the top network among viewers 18-45.

America’s demographic profile is evolving, and the public strongly supports a plan to help 11 million undocumented immigrants work toward citizenship. How could the GOP be so clueless?

Well, maybe there is more self-serving method to the madness than I know. Dr. Luis Fraga, University of Washington associate vice provost and political science professor, explains the Republican emphasis on border security versus citizenship is grounded in two political realities.

Fraga explains the GOP knows that Latino political trends do not favor Republicans, even when the party plays up socially conservative topics, such as abortion. In competitive elections the votes go Democratic. In states such as California the impact has created an entrenched D presence in statewide offices.

Republicans are also keenly aware, Fraga said, that support for immigration and citizenship might attract even more conservative challengers in primary races, particularly from the tea party.

The Republican Party lost its edge on national-security issues, has no definable domestic agenda besides “no,” and its answer to the nation’s changing demography is higher fences.

As the GOP organizes to explain itself, the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest Hispanic organization, will keep registering voters.

Lance Dickie's column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His email address is ldickie@seattletimes.com

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