The future of the Republican Party’s demographics
I just discovered this site, but I love the thoughtful intelligent discussion that goes on here. I wanted to share my own 2 cents about where I think the future of the Republican party should be, and I would love hear others opinions on that.
The single government action that has shaped the makeup of two major parties as they are today has been the passage of the Civil Rights and Affirmative Action legislation. Before that going essentially all the way back to the Civil War, the South voted democratically extremely consistently. (They really know how to hold a grudge!) Post Civil rights legislation, the South eventually found the Republican party, which didn’t really come until after an initial election cycle where George Wallace even won a number of electoral votes, and they have pretty consistently voted Republican ever since.
Looking forward- American demographics are shifting; birth rates among Hispanics and African Americans dwarf those of whites, and whites will become the minority in my lifetime. If they want to remain a viable party in the future, the Republican party has no choice- they have to court the votes of these two demographics. The only other option is to embrace white racism and fight a losing battle. I’m sure this would never happen, but given the behavior of the Republican Party, I swear I can almost see the RNC coming up with a campaign encouraging white people to have more babies. Let’s not forget in very recent years very prominent Republicans have said outwardly racist things in public. The most prominent two that come to mind are Trent Lott’s on Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday celebration, and William Bennett, the education secretary under Ronald Reagan and drugs czar under the first George Bush, saying that aborting every black baby would reduce the crime rate. (I know he’s not advocating aborting every black baby, but what he truly meant- that blacks are inherently pre-dispositioned to commit crimes more so than other races- is still racist as hell.) Again, these aren’t marginal figures like, say Ann Coulter, but instead people that have been actively leading the Party and influencing government policy for years.
So clearly it’s a very uphill battle with blacks, but I don’t think it will be as hard to make in-roads as many Republicans think, so long as they just make it clear that they are truly interested in getting their vote. Having Presidential primary candidates show up when they hold a debate would be a start. Also I think party leaders need to talk with the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the world and find out how to better market themselves to the community as a party that is on their side, while still maintaining the conservative principles that define them as Republicans. Many people have pointed out that the socially conservative issues that the Republican base love so much is popular among the African American community, so there are votes to be had there. (A cynical person would call this gay-bashing and probably bible-thumping.) And Bush has already proved that Hispanics can be won over to the Republican side, or at least fought to a draw between Democrats and Republicans.
It will take some time, and they will lose an election or two at first when attempting to do so, but this is the only way the Republicans can create a real future for themselves in the long run. In the short run doing this will certainly anger a portion of their base, and those that are strongly racist enough will eventually leave and start their own party. Indeed this is exactly what they should do, as this is how they will become further marginalized and fade away (slowly I’m sure) over time into obscurity. A lot of the rest of the country I think will have to learn to grow up and realize that in the real world people of different races and backgrounds just have to learn to work together. I think an effective Obama presidency will be a great way in easing towards that transition.
I’m not sure whether a shift in the republican party like that will happen sooner or later, but I know it will eventually have to happen. Otherwise a different less-racially charged party will take the Republican party’s place. Again, given the trend in our country’s demographics, it’s inevitable. As flawed as it seems sometimes, you’ve gotta love democracy. Every vote is created equal.
For full disclosure, I have not been nor do I ever anticipate being a Republican, but I do recognize that a healthy and well-meaning opposition party is important for the country, and thus have a vested interest in the future of the Republican Party, as do the Republicans in the Democratic Party, even if many don’t realize it.