Friday, November 16, 2012

Demographics are Destiny

America's bipolar two-party political system is a zero-sum game. One party's gain is the other's loss. As moderates have been systematically eliminated from the ranks of Republican Party officeholders for lack of ideological purity, the GOP has moved dramatically to the political right.

Republicans have lost the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 presidential contests. In 2012 they failed to take the presidency or the U.S. Senate. They even lost the total popular vote for the House of Representatives, only retaining their majority in that body due to gerrymandering of Congressional districts following the 2010 census. Apparently they have veered too far right to remain competitive in most races for national offices.

Ever since the advent of President Nixon's cynical and divisive Southern Strategy, Republican victories have depended on winning an overwhelming majority of white male votes. They pursued this demographic by systematically targeting and demonizing one out-group after another. Their policies have been consistently anti-minority, anti-women, anti-gay, and anti-poor.


Unfortunately for Republicans that strategy has run headlong into the wall of changing demographics. The gender gap favoring Democrats combined with overwhelming majorities among black, latino, and LGBT voters, groups that are growing as a percentage of the electorate, have doomed the Republican divide-and-conquer strategy. By 2050 white Americans will be just another minority.

Republican policies must embrace the concerns of these groups or the GOP is doomed. Panderbear prays that the GOP hews to its current policies and goes the way of the Whigs. The conservative movement has been an anchor preventing America from sailing forward to address the challenges of the future for far too long.

To the extent that they have succeeded Republicans have depended on fear and xenophobia in a white male demographic that is shrinking. The GOP's options are to return to the more moderate, more inclusive, more progressive policies they supported 50 years ago or to die. Like it or not, that's the choice conservatives face.

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