Former Republican: 6 Reasons the GOP Is Doomed
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6. The Young: The millennial generation (born between 1978 and 2000) has been voting overwhelmingly for Democrats ( 66% for Obama in 2008, 60% this year). They are projected to be 40% of the eligible voting pool by 2020. Because they are relatively diverse and secular, the GOP cannot assume that enough will emulate previous generations and swing to the right as they age.
Such polling figures should frighten GOP leaders. There’s no reason to believe that what we saw on November 6th was anything but the tip of the iceberg.
The factions in the party that are not socially conservative see these looming threats as an opportunity to get the GOP to drop the social stuff. But movement conservatives aren’t going to cede ideological ground, not when they (correctly) think it’s a necessity if they are to attract their base voters. “This country doesn’t need two liberal or Democratic parties,” is the way Bobby Jindal puts it, typically enough.
Like right-wing pundit Fred Barnes, many movement conservatives and Tea Party leaders will continue to insist that whites are going to remain “the nation’s dominant voting bloc… for many elections to come.” Hedging their bets, they have decided to become more “inclusive” or at least just inclusive enough in these days of micro-targeting and razor-thin election margins. After all, Romney would have won New Mexico, Florida, Nevada, and Colorado if he had captured even slightly higher shares of the Hispanic vote and he could have won in the Electoral College if fewer than 200,000 voters in key states had switched their votes.
To get more inclusive, however, these leaders offer an entirely cosmetic approach: emphasize the Party’s middle-class message, increase outreach or “partnership” with Hispanics and Asian Americans, back off the anti-immigration message a tad, say fewer stupid things à la Akin and Mourdock, cross your fingers, and hope for the best.
A Nonsense Strategy
When it comes to why this won’t work down the line, it’s hard to know where to start. Take that middle-class message. Many Republicans think that it should offer “ crossover appeal ” on its own, so long as it’s said loudly enough.
But what exactly is it? After all, it’s never about jobs going abroad, retirement worries (except insofar as the GOP wants to increase insecurity by privatizing Social Security), underwater mortgages, missing childcare for working families, exploding higher education costs, or what global warming is doing to the Midwestern breadbasket and coastal agriculture (much less the long-term capability of the planet to sustain life as we know it). Instead, it remains about “choice,” lowering taxes (again), “entitlement reform,” and getting the government out of the way of economic growth.
As if what the middle class really wants or needs is “choice” in education (Jindal’s plan to divert tax funds to private and parochial schools through vouchers was just ruled unconstitutional); “choice,” not affordability, in health care (the #1 cause of personal bankruptcy in America); and ever more environmental pollution, as well as further challenges to getting workman’s comp if you get injured on the job.
Studies have repeatedly shown that most Americans are “operationally” liberal on the substance of most policy issues. In other words, Republicans will support “small government,” until you ask about cutting spending on anything other than anti-poverty programs. In fact, less than a third of self-identifying Republicans surveyed by Reuters/Ipsos this year “somewhat” or “strongly” disagreed with the proposition that the wealthiest Americans should pay higher tax rates.
As a counter to the charge that the GOP is the party of the rich, Jindal offered this on Fox News: “We... need to make it very clear... that we’re not the party of Big: big businesses, big banks, big Wall Street, big bailouts.”