As you may recall, once upon a time -- it was called the end of the 20th century -- a famed Republican strategist named Karl Rove had a marvelous scheme to make the Grand Old Party the majority political organization going well into the 21st century. And he had the perfect presidential candidate to make his dream of a conservative Republican-leaning "ownership society" come true.
How is that project working out?
In 2002 I was driving cross country when All Things Considered ran a 10/13 story about a then-new book by Democratic strategists Judis and Texeira called The Emerging Democratic Majority that predicted that overwhelming demographic trends would inevitably give the Democratic Party a decades' long lock on the electoral majority.
How is that prediction working out?
Now that the results of the 2012 campaign are in, with a Democrat winning reelection for the second time since the world war (might have been three reelections had Kennedy not been killed), with liberals whipping Republican butt, and the New Deal remaining a major part of the American landscape, we can come to a solid conclusion.
Every major election cycle there are claims that the losing party is in really big trouble and unlikely to recover for years, all the more so when they lose big. Every major election cycle there are counterclaims that the claims that the losing party is in really big trouble are exaggerated. And that has been generally true.
But the days when the two parties were roughly equivalent are, as Judis and Texeira predicted, coming to and end as population demographics and the dysfunctions inherent to the party of
Republicans should be afraid, very afraid.
Getting back to Karl. His scheme was to make the American majority into "owners," of real estate and stocks. Being part of the moneyed class they would now be fiscal conservatives prone to vote Republican. Seniors would be bought off with assistance in paying for their drugs, while the first steps to privatize Medicare and Social Security into stock investment schemes would begin.
Karl to his credit knew the demographic facts. Because Hispanics are fast expanding as a major part of the population, a large minority or even better a majority of Latinos had to be brought into the GOP fold. The last thing the Republicans needed was a repeat of the Pete Wilson debacle when the California governor so offended the enormous Latino electorate of the state with a GOP white base boosting anti-immigration stance that the Great Bear State was rendered permanently Democratic.
What grand strategist Rove needed was a vehicle with which to carry out his splendid plan. That would be a Republican politician who was playing on the national stage, who was proLatino -- and who was sufficiently malleable. Who might that be? Why George Bush Jr. of course. One reason Bush was ideal was because he had carefully courted the Hispanic electorate when he was governor of
As it was, Karl's dream almost failed from the get-go as Bush lost the popular vote, and only squeaked into
Desperately, because the Republican Party was already well on its way to becoming a political club of white southern baby boomers in a country were minorities were 12% when Reagan was elected and 29% when Obama was solidly reelected. The shocking racioethnic state of the allegedly 21st century GOP was on display at their Tampa convention when the audience looked a lot like a reunion of the sons and daughters of the Confederacy. Which it is, with 92% of Repubs being white, and half from the south. One can make the case that a reason the Republican conclave did not give Romney a post convention bounce was because lots of American's rolled their eyes at the amazing lack of diversity. This is the 21st century, not the 20th the fossiliferous GOP languishes in.
To get a better grip on how bad things are for the GOP, consider that they have won the popular presidential vote just once (2004) the last six times. If the presidency were won by popular vote alone, then we would probably have had a string of Democratic Commanders in Chief since 1992, with little prospect for the Republicans to move in the
As minorities fast approach a third of the population on their way to half, it is simply not possible for a national party to be as big or bigger than the other one and therefore win most elections unless it includes a large contingent of minorities. Many Republicans know this. Many Republicans talk a lot about how the party needs to recruit lots of minorities. The problem is that they have no mechanism for developing a major minority cohort.
One reason they can't is because a good chunk of the core Republican base is anti-immigration. That this may represent opposition to illegal immigration does not matter electoral demographics wise. One reason many Republicans are anti-immigration is because they know most of them lean Democractic. But opposing immigration gets most Latino citizens really ticked off at the party that they perceive puts them down, so they won't vote GOP. And the anti-immigration base is not going elsewhere, the Republican Party will always be their refuge. So the GOP can kiss off the Hispanic vote.