What went wrong in 2012? (part 2 of 10)

Every generation, America’s political parties realign.  It is the natural order of things.  The coalition built by Ronald Reagan that combined the Goldwater conservatives with Falwell’s Moral Majority as well as Americans looking for a stronger leader in the face of the Soviet Union, is now fractured. 

In the past, I have declared the coalition dead, which was unfair.  The base of the coalition stands strong, but with the fall of the Soviets, twenty more years of abortion, skyrocketing debt and importantly – major changes in demographics, the coalition is fractured and leaking support.  But there are certain ways to mend or rebuild the Reagan coalition.

The modern Republican party consists mainly of economic conservatives, social conservatives and foreign policy conservatives that tend to be more neo-conservative on foreign affairs.

These three legs make up the coalition and will continue to do so.  But after losing the Congress in 2006 and two presidential elections, it is time for us to look introspectively.  We must determine why we are holding most of the state houses of government along with Congress, without being able to build national or statewide coalitions.  In fact, if we don’t rearrange our priorities, then we may end up losing more and more at the local level.

Thus, there are three major cracks in the way Republicans are doing business that need immediate attention.  Today, I’ll discuss the first.

This one is obvious – republicans have to split the Latino vote with d’s.  They have to.  Latino’s are the fastest growing racial demographic in America.  These people have values that reflect republican values.  They work hard, they save, they dream, they go to Church and they look after family.  Most Hispanics in this country aren’t looking for a handout.  We have to reach out to these Hispanic voters in a big way. 

And let me tell you, nominating Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio isn’t going to do it.  John McCain was the harbinger of immigration reform yet only 31% of Hispanics voted for him while Obama, with no effort to reach out to this group, garnered 67% of their support.  That is more than two to one.  GWB received 44% of the Hispanic vote in 2004.  That would have been enough to put Romney over this year, with his 27% vote.

Think about what we’re seeing.  In 2004, almost half of Hispanics voted Republican.  In 2008, almost a third of Hispanics voted Republican.  In 2012, hardly one quarter of Hispanics voted Republican.  And it gets worse, because the number of Hispanic voters is increasing all of the time; so it isn’t just that we are getting a smaller and smaller piece of the pie, it is that we are getting smaller slices of a growing pie. 

We are bleeding on this.  Whether we pass immigration reform or not, a great many Hispanic people are here legally.  The ones that are here illegally, have children that our becoming voting citizens.  The math doesn’t favor us.  It’s fine if you are philosophically against “amnesty.”  But practically these people are here to stay and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  Pragmatically, we can’t ever hope to win another national election without coming close to splitting the Hispanic vote. 

Do we think Christie, Pence, Rubio, Ryan, McDonnell, Brownback, Daniels, Perry, Santorum, Huntsman, Walker or (Rand) Paul is going to be able to win in 2016 when we only receive one fifth of Hispanic support?  The numbers simply aren’t there.  We can’t afford to have another primary wherein our frontrunners try to show how tough they all are on illegal immigration.  Who cares?  Does immigration hurt the economy?  Does it kill babies?  Does it spread terrorism?  Does it force our government to borrow money?  Of course not.  So who cares if we have to provide a different legal status to our neighbors to accomplish the goals of our cause. 

Mitt Romney tacked to the right of Rick Perry this summer and it cost him the Presidency.  Romney could etch-a-sketch himself with conservatives, but Hispanic voters weren’t his stooge.    

Democrats seem ready to finally tackle immigration reform.  Republicans are going to have to figure out a way to support immigration reform without allowing the Democrats to be the sole electoral beneficiaries and believe me, under a democrat president giving a speech in the Rose Garden, it’ll be hard.  It is a difficult task because everyone knows that republicans squandered their opportunity and it is now the democrats turn.  But we can’t allow them to seize this moment. 

If I was John Boehner, I’d put out an immigration reform package on January 1st called, “The Republican Immigration Citizenship plan” and hammer it home.  And do my best to cut out the legs from under any zany Congressmen that opposes it. 

This is a John F. Kennedy moment.  Kennedy called MLK Jr.’s wife when he was jailed in Alabama.  That was all it took, and black leaders turned on the party of Lincoln for three generations.  Democrats captured the hearts of black Americans.  Now is our chance to capture the hearts and dreams of Hispanics. 

And let me say this.  This isn’t a time for compromise.  We need to give away everything.  Forget the wall.  Forget amnesty.  Make illegal immigrants from Mexico citizens in 2013.  That should be the Boehner/Cantor/Ryan plan for 2013. 

If we don’t alienate these voters, then they will continue to be like white voters who don’t vote in a block.  But as it stands, we are creating a demographic like black voters who vote en masse against us. 

The first step in mending our fractured Republican coalition is providing a path to citizenship for the people that live here and contribute but don’t have citizenship.  This is the path to taking back the Senate in two years and holding the House. 

Next week we’ll delve into the next two steps.

5 thoughts on “What went wrong in 2012? (part 2 of 10)

  1. A few points with regard to your newfound love of Hispanics: First, even if the Republicans in the House do propose an immigration bill and it passes, it’s going to be the Democrats in the Senate who second it and President Obama who ultimately signs it into law, so what makes you think that Republicans would get any credit for it? Second, leaving aside for the moment the complete and total intellectual hypocrisy of the Republicans doing an about-face on immigration after getting shellacked in an election when they’ve advocated against it for so long, there are, as I see it, two major obstacles in your path to Hispanic popularity that I don’t think you’re going to be able to overcome. The first obstacle is your party’s base itself. No matter what John Boehner and the Republican leadership says or does, you know as well as I do Griffin that there are a lot of racists and bigots who form the base of the Republican Party. That’s not trash talk; that’s just objective truth. Many of those people are in my family and my hometown. I know how they think, and I know that they are not going to like immigration reform, or Hispanic outreach, or, especially, having Hispanic candidates on their party’s ticket. More to the point, why would Hispanics trust them? After years of listening to anti-immigrant rants and blatant racism from small town rednecks, who wouldn’t be wary of those people? Hell, I’m wary of them, and I come from them. I mean, if George Wallace had all of a sudden changed his mind in the mid-70s and announced that he had been wrong about segregation and that he was now running on a total integration platform, black people would have been justified in not trusting him. Of course, you’re probably thinking to yourself at this point that George Wallace was a Democrat and the Democrats were the party of slavery and Jim Crow and the Republicans were (historically) the party of freedom, and you’re 100% right, but the movement of African Americans away from the Republican Party and toward the Democratic Party, even though the Democratic Party was historically the party of racial oppression, forms a perfect segue into what I believe is the second obstacle your party faces: what does the Republican Party have to offer Hispanics? You’re wrong when you intimate that the shift of African Americans away from the Republicans and towards the Democrats began under JFK – it actually began much earlier, under FDR. African Americans historically were (and presently still are) much poorer than whites on average. Therefore, they needed government assistance, and they got that assistance not from Republicans, but from Democrats. And the same is true with Hispanics: they are disproportinately poor when compared with the white population and therefore they disproportionately need government assistance, including healthcare. Add to that a point that I had never thought of before until I heard David Brooks talking about it during PBS’s election night coverage, but I think there’s really something to it. The kind of rugged independence and self-reliance that has traditionally been a feature of American culture and which the Republicans are currently selling is a product of our nation’s Anglo-Saxon and Scots-Irish roots, but most cultures in the world, including Hispanic and Asian cultures, are far more communitarian than that. They find that kind of Horatio Alger, sink-or-swim individualism to be off-putting, and they are much more open to wealth redistribution for the common social good. So I think the Republicans are going to have a hard time reaching out to Hispanics without looking like blatant panderers and opportunists, and I think you are going to have a huge trust barrier to overcome with them. Leaving Hispanics aside for a moment, though, the other major demographic shift which nobody in the media is talking about but which I personally find huge is the youth vote. It might not look that obvious in places like Lynchburg, but people our age and younger are dropping for the Democrats in huge numbers. And it’s not just about the economy, although most young people are more liberal in their economic views than the average Republican. Simply put, young people by and large don’t care about abortion, don’t care about gay marriage, and, increasingly, don’t care about church, period. That’s not to say that a lot of young people don’t care about those things, but the majority do not. So all of the Republicans’ traditional messages are lost on them, and studies have shown that party affiliation in one’s young adult life more often than not sticks. So the Republican Party is going to have to completely re-tool itself if it wants to remain competitive, and I suspect that the result of that process will be a party you won’t like: a Goldwater-style party which is moderately conservative on economic issues but which downplays divisive social issues completely. At the point that occurs, I will expect to find you living in some unabomber shack in Wyoming cleaning your guns and babbling about how the end is nigh.

  2. Mr. B.,
    Thanks for the comments, but I have a couple of replies…
    1.) I do not have a “new love for hispanics” amnesty for illegal immigrants is something this site has been calling for for over a year.

    2.) I have not response for your concern that Rs wont get credit for an amnesty bill. I haven’t gotten that far. I am simply advocating for it.

    3.) I don’t see a racist in every corner of the Republican party, but of course you will find them in the ranks. But the tail shouldn’t wag the dog and older voters who tend to be racist will continue to play a lesser role in each subsequent election.

    4.) You’re right. George Wallace was a democrat. Why do you hate black people? haha.

    5.) Listen, maybe a racial voting shift did begin under FDR. I have never heard that. Most historians that I have read seem to agree that the turning point was Nixon’s failure to acknowledge the Civil Rights movement while Kennedy reached out to the black community. I’m not saying you are incorrect, simply that this is new information to me. We can at least agree that one moment in time didn’t change the course of a party. This had to be a generation in the making.

    Obviously, progressivism started with Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson (or William Jennings Bryan). Roosevelt, a Republican, had the first black man over for dinner at the White House, Booker T. Washington and, in my estimation was much more vocal in his opposition to lynching than was any democrat of the time. And Wilson later made overtures against lynching. But these are the original heroes of the poor.

    6.) I am going to disagree with your assertion on cultural communitarianism simply because I still believe that most immigrants, while seeking to hold onto the tangible benefits of their culture, desire to follow the overall way of life in America.

    7.) Young people don’t care about marriage or Church. I can agree with that. Abortion I don’t. Polls show that young people are becoming more pro-life by the day. The problem is that republicans are selling a good product in shitty packaging while D’s are selling shit in a brand new box. You get candidates with responsible rhetoric and you aren’t going to see them losing elections on that issue.

    8.) Overall, I agree with you that the party is going to have to go in a Libertarian direction. But, I welcome it. Neo-cons are as dangerous as Democrats and given a choice between the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld wing of the party and the Paul wing, I go with Paul. However, they are going to accept the Life issue as an exception to libertarianism. Too many people are too passionate about it. Even if evangelials lose control of the party, their vote is still too large to go without.

    Generally, I think we are in agreement as to where the party must go..

  3. Haha, well I never thought I would see the day when you would be accepting (or at least not opposing tooth and nail) gay marriage (this is sort of a combined response with your youth vote post). What a difference a few years makes. I do concur with you, however, that we agree on more than we disagree. I also basically agree with your analysis of the current Republican predicament, although I’m much more skeptical than you that the party leadership is going to be able to hold their coalition together. I think that there is an inherent tension between so-called Christian conservatives and true Libertarians in the sort-of Ayn Rand sense. Most true Libertarians that I know are atheists/agnostics, and Ayn Rand herself was a vocal atheist (in addition to being a hypocrite and a world-class b****). I don’t think there’s any question that the party leadership is going to begin shepherding the party in a more libertarian direction, which I think demographically is the rational thing to do, given the youth vote, but I think there’s going to be a lot of blowback in response to that change. First of all, a lot of Evangelicals and Christian conservatives are not going to be able and/or willing to take as sophisticated a view of the situation as you just did, and they’re going to see any retreat from the culture wars as an abandonment of principle. Already you hear rumblings of that sentiment coming from the Tea Party. Second, principled libertarians, many of whom live in socially liberal areas like the northeast and the Pacific coast, are not going to have any desire to fight over abortion. For many of them, government non-involvement with issues like abortion (and drugs and marriage) is the definition of conservatism. So I’m not saying that a marriage between libertarians and pro-lifers is impossible, but it would be very awkward. I think that unless some Reagan-esque leader emerges quickly there’s a legitimate possibility that the party could splinter into two separate factions, one libertarian and the other socially conservative. Who knows, it could be the end of two-party dominance in American politics, and might lead to coalition-building in the European sense which could help break some of the gridlock in Washington. I don’t know what’s going to happen – I think we stand at one of those crossroads in history, sort of like when LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act, knowing it was the right thing to do in the long run, and the Southern Democrats, feeling betrayed by their party, peeled away and formed the Dixiecrats in response. It will be interesting to watch over the next few years. One thing which I cannot let go, however, is your assertion that “we need a Calvin Coolidge fueling a Roaring Twenties rather than an FDR residing over a Depression.” That’s like telling Charlie Sheen that he needs more cocaine and hookers and less rehab. One leads to the other. Educate yourself, fool.

  4. Pingback: What went wrong in 2012? The case of the 4 million missing voters (part 4 of 10) –

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