The Republican Party is like America, and can quickly recover its strength

Summary: Today we look at the GOP, another in a series about the results of Campaign 2012.  How will the Grand Old Party respond to its defeat at the polls?  This forecast: quickly and effectively, for obvious reasons.  See links at the end to other posts in the series.

A gomboc. This is America!

A political {party} is like an American forest; you have only to cut down the old trees, and immediately new trees come up to replace them.

— Slight paraphrase of a line from the Introduction to The English Constitution by Walter Bagehot (1867)

The objected pictured to the right is a gömböc, a convex three-dimensional homogeneous self-righting body shape used by turtles, first imagined by Vladimir Arnold (1995) and developed by Gábor Domokos and Péter Várkonyi (2006). When tipped, even upside down, it returns to normal. For details see Wikipedia.


Rebuilding the GOP will move quickly (and noisily).   The problems described in the previous post are serious, but can be fixed relatively quickly. The fiscal cliff will be the stage on which this gets played out.  There are 3 factors the GOP can rely upon.

  1. The GOP has a broad large, broad base of support
  2. The GOP has a strong bench of next-gen players
  3. Republicans, like most Americans, are easily led
  4. Other posts in this series
  5. For More Information: about the Tea Party Movement

(1)  The GOP has a broad large, broad base of support

A common narrative in the media is that the US is politically divided by geography. Not so, that results from misleading state-level pictures — allocating states on an all-or-nothing basis to each party.  See the map in the previous chapter showing country-level voting, reflecting each party’s proportional strength.  Little red or blue, mostly purple, few clear regional patterns.

Nor does the Democratic Party have a large lead over the GOP.  A few percent of the popular vote decides the Presidency.  Even a poorly managed campaign by Romney, in a slowly growing economy (trends are usually more important than levels), climaxed by collapse of their new high-tech election-day get-out the-vote system — led to a (estimated) 4% loss.


From “Right Truth” website

The GOP has a large, strong core.  Plus a nation drifting steadily to the right, with a large majority broadly sympathetic to conservative views — if stripped of their racism, homophobia, and sexism — and packaged better.  Hispanics, often considered (with Blacks) the foundation of a future Democratic majority, have shown themselves receptive to GOP governor’s who seek their votes.  Like Jeb Bush and the Hispanic-American GOP politicians.

The image to the right comes from the Right Truth website.

(2)  The GOP has a strong bench of next-gen players

“In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.”
– Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Chairman of the House Banking Committee, The Birmingham News, 9 December 2010

In 2008 and even more so in 2012, the GOP recruited its candidates from the clown car of the GOP train.  Should they look elsewhere, they’ll easily find attractive, skillful, and intelligent candidates.

Their base includes more than politicians. The conservative movement has spent far more effort on personnel development than the Left during the past generation.  They’ve not effectively reaped the harvest, but it awaits them in the fields. To see the party’s possible future intellectual leaders read The American Conservative magazine.

(3)  Republicans, like most Americans, are easily led

The most ludicrous, IMO, reason for GOP doom is that the base will resist reform.  First, the majority of the base is disgusted with the clown car candidates.  Second, they are Americans.  They will believe what their leaders tell them.  They will cheer what they’re told to cheer.

We like to think of ourselves as rugged individualists.  It’s a myth. Look at the Tea Party.

  • Born in opposition to the Bush-Obama bank bailouts, they mobilized on command.  When told to switch their opposition to other policies, they obeyed.  When told to support very bank friendly GOP candidates, they obeyed.
  • When told that foreign wars and a large standing army were bad and isolationism was good, they believed. When told that foreign wars make us safe, and that a large standing army was necessary — they believed.
  • When told that the Constitution was a God-given document, that only the original writers interpretation was valid, and that changes were heresy — they believed. When told that the government could declare wars and surveil — or kill — kill citizens at will, they believed.

Both left and right, Americans are sheep.  The people with power and resources call the tune and we dance.  Not sullenly, as do people in other nations. But enthusiastically. We’re exceptional in that respect, at least.  The GOP will find new campaign themes to advance its suporters’ interest (ie, the supporters that matter, among the 1%).  The rank-and-file members will drop their old convictions and sing the new tunes without missing a beat.

On a deeper note, that’s because both the Left and Right in America are rooted in deep and enduring ideas about the nature of humanity and the role of government.  Under stress they return to these core ideas and values, to become revitalized.  That’s what will happen in 2013 on the Right.

If it doesn’t, that would show that the US political system has become seriously dysfunctional and unable to rebalance itself.  Things could quickly get ugly.

(4)  The posts in this series about the results of Campaign 2012

  1. Conservatives, celebrate the historic victory you won today!
  2. The votes were counted and one wing of our one ruling party won. Rejoice!
  3. How Obama AND conservatives both won on Tuesday
  4. Civil rights just took a step forward, the slow hard way. The right way.
  5. The hidden major party, the key to political control of America
  6. Let’s list the GOP’s problems. They’re all easily solvable.
  7. The Republican Party is like America, and can quickly recover it strength

(5)  For More Information

How the GOP got into this condition — About the Tea Party Movement, effective shock troops for the Right, but not good for the GOP.

  1. Are the new “tea party” protests a grass roots rebellion or agitprop?, 1 March 2009
  2. Our ruling elites scamper and play while our world burns, 11 March 2009
  3. The weak link in America’s political regime, 16 September 2009
  4. More examples of Americans waking up – should we rejoice?, 10 October 2009
  5. Does the Tea Party movement remind you of the movie “Meet John Doe”?, 27 January 2010
  6. The Tea Party movement develops a platform. It’s the Underpants Gnomes Business Plan!, 8 March 2010
  7. About the Tea Party Movement: who they are and what they believe, 19 March 2010
  8. The Tea Party Movement disproves my recommendation for the path to reforming America, 20 April 2010
  9. At last we see a Tea Party political platform, 13 May 2010
  10. Kinsley – “My Country, Tis of Me – There’s nothing patriotic about the Tea Party Patriots”, 15 May 2010
  11. Why has wild man Mark Williams become a top leader of the Tea Party movement?, 13 June 2010
  12. More people participating in politics: is this good for America?, 20 June 2010
  13. Obama scores again against the Constitution. The Tea Party is right about the battle, but AWOL., 28 September 2010
  14. Today’s tea party propaganda: the wonderfulness of slavery, 8 July 2011
  15. God and the Tea Party Movement, 30 March 2012



48 thoughts on “The Republican Party is like America, and can quickly recover its strength”

  1. So the question becomes; will Republicans fester in anger for four years and let that anger be their guide in the next election? Or, will they take this time to do some reflection and change; or evolve if you will?

    Next election should be interesting. I’m not Republican myself, but I do hope this election disappointment is used as an opportunity for you all.

    1. Agreed. So far the Republicans are hinting that they plan to double down on the strategy of the last four years. I think this is because they are afraid of losing the Tea Party. But the Republicans are better off without them.

      1. Pluto,

        Yes, the GOP leaders are talking big. That makes sense to position in front of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations. As Obama is doing. Nobody is stupid enough to copy Obama’s preemptive compromises in his first term.

    1. I too have the same reaction when reading Roman history. The Republic was nice. I’m glad to have concrete. But it seems like a 500 year long detour in history, ending with a horrific crash.

  2. I wonder why Fabius Maximus sees such a great future for the Republican Party, the party who “recruited its candidates from the clown car”, the party of “racism, homophobia, and sexism”?

    I know you were dissapointed by Obama’s win, but maybe it’s time to let go…

    1. Guthrie raises an important question! Why does the GOP potentially have a great future? Or is it doomed to be the party of “racism, homophobia, and sexism”?

      The GOP was not always the home base for racists (eg, Lincoln and so forth). That was a deliberate decision — an opportunistic, evil decision, IMO — made by GOP leaders during 1964 – 1970. Goldwater opened the door a crack, Nixon made them welcome (although he also started affirmative action and expanded welfare). That consequences of that decision make racism a core problem, not easily solved.

      The other “isms” are I believe less rooted as distinguishing features of the GOP, and hence might be easier to change (ie, the GOP is less far behind the national consensus in these things).

      American political parties, like Americans as individuals, have a history of rapid evolution in their policy positions. Change is an inherent capacity of people, and especially so for Americans.

      Furthermore, we need two vibrant parties to make our political system operate properly.

  3. “Both left and right, Americans are sheep. The people with power and resources call the tune and we dance. Not sullenly, as do people in other nations. But enthusiastically. We’re exceptional in that respect, at least. The GOP will find new campaign themes to advance its suporters’ interest (ie, the supporters that matter, among the 1%). The rank-and-file members will drop their old convictions and sing the new tunes without missing a beat.”

    So what, again, is the Problem?

    Same as it ever was.
    Clown Car Brigade of religiousity masquearding as analysis.
    Bill truly believes this silliness he posits for consumer fare!

    True believers all along the road.

    You don’t really hold that Electoral Politics effects significant pathways of governance here, anymore, do you?
    It is all like a Board Game with First Past the Post and Gerrymandering.

    LOOK right here.
    Election has passed …what 6 days…and already we are seeing these analyses of the next Two to Four Years

    No wonder some people just tune out this Stuff
    And the rest have very little better to “do”.
    Quite obviously.

    But thanks.


    1. ….”You don’t really hold that electoral politics effects significant pathways of governance here, anymore, do you?”….

      That’s the point isn’t it? Once upon a time, long ago when intelligence, intellect, knowledge and wit were considered prideful attributes it did “effect significant pathways of governance”. did it not?

      This isn’t just “stuff.” Sites like this one give the public important information from many different perspectives. It’s imperative that the public learn and understand these things so they are able to make better decisions and better choices.

      …..”No wonder some people just tune this stuff out”…..

      I don’t think it’s just some, I believe many to most tune this “stuff” out. And that probably explains much itself.

      ……”……already we are seeing these analyses of the next two to four years.”

      Well lets look at it this way; in 2008 we were promised hope and change, among many other things. What changed? Nothing. I would say hope is still alive, just with much less vigor.

      Obama 2012: what to expect? for most of us here, most likely the same old. So yeah, the next election is already on the table.

      But I digress! I’m stealing Fabius’ spotlight!

  4. Going to the various conservative websites (NRO, foxnews, etc.) the dominant emotion seems to be despair. There are a lot of people who really think blacks and Hispanics in this country are determined to destroy the nation they live in. They coach this in terms of minorities asking for welfare and other forms of government aid but the dominant theme is that minorities can’t be trusted to vote in the best interest of the country.

    Trying to convince minorities to vote Republican doesn’t seem to be something that is occurring just yet at least publically. I imagine there are a lot of discussions by e-mail and over cell-phones on the best strategy for 2014.

    1. “Going to the various conservative websites (NRO, foxnews, etc.) the dominant emotion seems to be despair…. Trying to convince minorities to vote Republican doesn’t seem to be something that is occurring just yet at least publically.”

      You might as well consult the mice in GOP HQ. They have the same influence on GOP strategy as the folks chattering on conservative websites, IMO.

      My guess is that then their orders come down, those folks will change direction like the sheep they are.

  5. Yes, the Republican party is like America. Therefore, it cannot quickly recover its strength ( except in the limited sense that it could quickly become stronger than the Democrats, who also have problems.)

  6. Todd Guthrie asks: “I wonder why Fabius Maximus sees such a great future for the Republican Party…”

    Teddy Roosevelt.

    A party that can put someone like that in the presidency remains a force to be reckoned with.

    I disagree with FM, however, that the Republican party will quickly reform itself. Instead, the Republican party will become more crazy and more extreme as a result of its defeat in this election.

    Whether the Republican party cracks up and disappears completely, or eventually reforms itself as a result of such a long string of bruising electoral defeats, remains an open question. Contra FM’s claim that the Republican party has “broad, deep support,” in reality the Republican party has very narrow demographic support — mainly from elderly white males. And this demographic is rapidly becoming a tiny minority.

    See Patrick Buchanan’s article “Changing Demographics Spell Doom for the GOP.”

    Most likely, some new party with a different name will take over the mantle of the current Republican party. But time will tell.

    1. “Contra FM’s claim that the Republican party has “broad, deep support,” in reality the Republican party has very narrow demographic support — mainly from elderly white males”

      Please show some supporting evidence for that.

      Romney got almost half the votes, a lot more than “elderly white males.” Many GOP officials get 1/3 to 1/2 of the Hispanic vote. And so forth.

  7. FM claims: “You might as well consult the mice in GOP HQ. They have the same influence on GOP strategy as the folks chattering on conservative websites, IMO. My guess is that then their orders come down, those folks will change direction like the sheep they are.”

    Aside from the sheer unattractiveness of this kind of contempt for our fellow Americans, this seems fundamentally contrary of the facts on the ground in the last few elections. FM posits a top-down elite-led Republican party. But the reality on the ground in American electoral politics since about 1995 appears to be a bottom-up insurgency of fanatics that took over the Republican party and led it to a series of a increasingly self-destructive extremist policies.

    Examples include the “Contract with America” insurgency that led to Newt Gingrich’s disastrous effort to play brinksmanship with Bill Clinton over the debt ceiling; the Clinton impeachment, hugely unpopular with the American public and widely perceived as a colossal political mistake as well as an immense waste of time and resources; the ill-advised three-card-monte selection of George W. Bush as president by a politically stacked Supreme Court, which led to a disastrous presidency and a catastrophic erosion of the standing of the Republican party across all voting groups; and most recently the ill-advised Tea Party insurgency, which has accomplished nothing in the last two years, while failing at its only self-proclaimed goal, “To make the Barack Obama a one-term president.”

    Once upon a time major political parties like the Republican party were indeed controlled by the elites at the top and orders came down from the smoke-filed rooms full of political bosses. Those times are long gone. Today, the big players in the Republican party are the figures like Rush Limbaugh and Roger Ailes who set the agenda and force the nominal “leaders” of the party to kowtow and cringe and apololgize for crossing them. Many others have pointed out that the Republican party created these monsters (Fox News, rabid far-right talk radio, dog-whistle white supremist voting blocs, etc.) to solidify their position among the electorate but now Frankenstein’s monster has broken free and become so powerful that it calls the tune, not Dr. Frankenstein himself.

    See “Can the GOP win without the crazies?” 8 November 2012.

    It’s a good question. As the article notes, most of the energy in the GOP now comes from its lunatic fringe.

    1. I have to agree completely with Thomas.

      Here are the election demographics you requested from Thomas. “Demographics Of Election 2012 – Behind The Numbers (Part I)“, Addicting info (“Addicting Info started as a resource to discredit all the lies and propaganda that the right-wing spreads. “), 8 November 2012.

      They show Romney’s top area of support were married older protestant couples who were particularly religious. His support among the young and non-evangelical protestant was weak to very weak.

      I think the next logical step for the Republicans is going to be to reduce the number of voters who do not share their preferred demographics. This is a possible example of the future: “People waiting up to three hours to vote in Summit County {Ohio}“, ABC, 6 November 2012 — “Zurz said the lines could also be long on Election Day because Summit County has fewer precincts and polling locations. Zurz said cutbacks were made because the Ohio Secretary of State wanted to decrease costs.”

      1. Pluto,

        You do the math and report back if the numbers support More’s statement that the GOP “has very narrow demographic support — mainly from elderly white males”. Perhaps you and More have unique definitions of “mainly” and “elderly”.

    2. FM, I think we are talking past each other to a certain extent.

      Let’s look at the math first, there are a LOT of married older white protestant couples who are particularly religious in the American electorate. They are probably the single largest voting bloc in the country and it is wise of the Republicans to seek to monopolize them.

      But it is NOT wise to do so at the cost of every other voting bloc because they are also the most quickly shrinking bloc of voters in the country.

      If you break down the statistics in the article, you’ll see for example, that Romney is ceding 40+ percentage points to the Democrats with Hispanics, the fastest growing minority segment. Undoubtedly this is in large part because of Immigration. But Romney decided it was better to lose support from everybody other than his preferred demographic than to show any sign of flexibility.

      One way to win an election is to go for big blocs of voters and make sure they vote. Another is to establish footholds in lots of small, but growing, blocs of voters. The Republicans are currently doing everything they can to ensure that the Democrats win by the second method.

      As you’ve noted, it takes time to change a party (in spite of what you implied in your article title) and Thomas and I suspect the Republicans do not have enough time to change before they drive themselves over a demographic cliff.

      1. Pluto,

        “FM, I think we are talking past each other to a certain extent.”

        No we’re not. My dream is to make this a no bs zone, unlike the most of the Internet. Those giant Google data centers, with their maze of brightly painted pipes, probably carry more bs than information/insight.

        More made a specific statement. You echoed it. I don’t believe it’s true for any standard definition of “mainly” and “elderly”.

        All that stuff about the big picture might be true, but if individual statements aren’t held to some degree of accuracy we’re just monkeys chattering in the tree.

        This is what people describe as pedantry and discourtesy. In America to point out that a statement is factually wrong is bad form.

        We’re supposed to honor each other’s nonsense. That keeps our discourse on a meaningless level, so that we remain in chains staring at the shadows on the wall — easily led by our elites.

    3. “Let’s look at the math first, there are a LOT of married older white protestant couples who are particularly religious in the American electorate.”

      I think if you delete “older” and “white” you have a fairly true statement. I have not looked lately and the sources I do look at may be inaccurate, but I have read that the U.S holds one of the largest populations of fundamentally religious groups in the industrialized world. I think it is safe to say most of these people will vote GOP, primarily because GOP candidates appeal to religious fundamental ideals, where as true left candidates don’t.

      It was mentioned that the number of fundamentally religious is shrinking. I would have to see some statistics to believe that. Though I thing through the 60’s 70’s and 80’s we saw a fall of religious practice, I don’t think it is true of upcoming generations. I am basing that belief primarily on the fact that our left is now middle right and our right is…well far out. As well as what I observe in my own circle of friends and community, our ideals vs. our parents etc.etc.

    4. I also would like to ask a question.

      Is it possible that the democratic party moving right is the result of having at one point been radically left, and needed to become less so to become a strong party once again?

      And if so, then while the left was extreme left did the republican party move slightly left to stay in the running during the more extreme liberal pd of the 60’s and 70’s?

      And if that is the case, then where do the 2 parties stand now if we were to compare them to the 40’s and 50’s?


      1. gaiasrequite,

        That’s a great question, and one that there’s a large body of research attempting to answer. It’s difficult because there is no agreed-upon fixed standard of “left” and “right”.

        But there’s an easy if sloppy way to answer it. When was the Democratic Party “radically left”? For example, after Nixon — the most recent period in which the Democratic Party had national political dominance — what did they attempt (let alone accomplish) that was significantly more “left” than Nixon’s policy?

        Look at both domestic and foreign policy.

        Look at these radical left policies:

        • guaranteed minimum income
        • national health care plan
        • affirmative action
        • created a federal agency to regulate pollution
        • government control of prices
        • legislation prohibiting discrimination by gender or disability
        • Federal family planning, including Federal funding for contraceptives
        • created the Occupational Safety & Health Admin

        Obviously this President was a commie, a Red sleeper agent infiltrated into the US to pollute our political system. Probably our bodily fluids as well.

        And his name was…

        I think we can say with some confidence that the US political spectrum has shifted to the right during the past 30 years. Longer-term comparisons become difficult because the social and political environment change too greatly.

    5. If I remember my history his name was “The Last Great President of the US” Kennedy?

      So my thinking is this…..
      We are experiencing a shift in generational Ideology, where generations x and y are stepping up to the plate and making new demands on the government. With new research on the detrimental effects of placing infants in day care, women in these generations are growing more uncomfortable with the career mom stance and seeking ways to stay home.

      With these decisions comes a redefining of roles of both families and government. Is it possible that this could be some of the reason behind our politicians shiftiness, the voting populace is changing and so too must they?

      I am sure that is an over simplification and there are several factors into this. I am just wondering if people are simply looking for that candidate that will provide single income family security while maintaining most of the liberties you mentioned.

      I know in a few countries (Canada and France) governments have started programs to help and promote single income families.

    6. I stand corrected, Nixon never got much coverage in my schooling except to point out the deficiencies during his presidency.

      But interesting either way thanks for above list, I will do some reading and let it bounce around in the head for a bit.

      This would be easier if someone would publish a book on where we will be in 15 years. I am finding the quest of discovering how to prepare my children for their future to be at least daunting if not all together pointless.

      Perhaps the answer, enroll them in a revolutionary preparedness school?

    7. gaiasrequite:

      “His name was”… I won’t give it away; but seach Wikipedia for “EPA” and read the first two sentences of the main text.

      Back in the 1960s, the Left had a definition of “liberal”: someone who believes in the appearance of progress so long as nothing important actually changes.

      The Democratic party sometimes came close to liberal. They never came anywhere near “radical left.” Lyndon Johnson brought us the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Medicare and Medicaid; but he’s probably remembered more than anything else for committing US ground troops to, and then steadily escalating our involvement in, the war in Vietnam. Our participation finally came to an end under Richard Nixon, along with the draft; it was Democrat Jimmy Carter, in 1980, who re-instituted the requirement for young American men to register for the draft.

      I’ve said it many times: Coke versus Pepsi. The parties differ with some consistency in their marketing strategies, but not in matters of substance.

    8. gaiasrequite: “I am finding the quest of discovering how to prepare my children for their future to be at least daunting if not all together pointless.”

      I have no idea if this would be in your direction, but here: Free Range Kids you might find something interesting.

    9. Coises;
      Once again thank you I glimpsed the site, it looks very interesting I will definitely book mark it for further reading. Between you and FM I have filled my reading log for the next month or two.

      I am also quickly discovering, even at the college level, education follows the color of your state. Thanks for the Nixon info I have always passed him up because of the common “red”or maybe just “redneck” ridicule of his presidency.

    10. Okay, FM, I’m back to discuss Thomas More’s incendiary comment again and I concede your point. The statement: “in reality the Republican party has very narrow demographic support — mainly from elderly white males” is inaccurate.

      Now will you concede our point that the Republican party’s strategy for winning Presidential elections by solely courting married older white protestant couples who are particularly religious and favor policies that exclude building a consensus with other demographic groups is increasingly unlikely to win them the White House in the future?

      1. “by solely courting married older white protestant couples who are particularly religious ”

        That’s a cartoon version of GOP policy, shown as totally false by a look at exit polls — or going outside. Visit your local evangelical churches, your college’s Young Republican and Libertarian Clubs, the bars where racists hang out, the offices of local stockbrokers. These tend to be stocked with rock-ribbed Republicans. Not all, not everybody (don’t see the world in terms of cartoons, or black & white TV).

        The GOP coalition has two problems. First, the numbers. It’s not a majority today — and it’s base is shrinking. Ugly trends in a polity with a winner-take-all system (ie, no proportionate representation at national offices or within districts).

        The second is an existential crisis. Much of their belief system is false (bad); some of it is becoming illegitimate in US culture (worse). Much as happened to the communists in the 1930s-1940s, as they went from trendy to illegitimate in US society. That’s death to a political organization. Or any broad-based organization. It’s happening to the Boy Scouts right now.

        Neither of these are terminal problems, as I described. Boy Scouts exist in the rest of the world with girls and gays, the US BSA will adapt. Conservative parties exist around the world, and the GOP will probably adapt to the 21st century.

  8. At least on the issue of reproductive rights, it appears that American conservatives have decided to double down on the policies and the languange that made them unattractive to many women in the 2012 national elections. “The Reproductive Rights Checklist“, by Amanda Marcotte, November 12, 2012, The American Prospect.

    1. I don’t believe it’s accurate to point to an article and conclude that “conservatives have decided” this or that.

      Also, The election was two weeks ago. Neither the tens of millions in the GOP (loosely defined) nor the elites that run the GOP have processed what happened, let alone developed new plans. Large organizations, let alone such loose ones as US political coalitions, do not move that quickly.

    2. Your points about the slowness of change in large coalitions, and the closeness of the election, are well taken. Therefore I will focus my point: at least at the state level, there is no apparent letup in conservative attacks on reproductive rights since the election. Example:
      – “Ohio House committee approves bill to defund Planned Parenthood“, by Aaron Marshall, The Plain Dealer, Nov. 14, 2012
      Meanwhile, the similar attempt in Texas is dragging on.

      1. cynicalatheist,

        Expecting change on any level after two weeks is absurdly unrealistic. A Cub Scout Pack does not adapt to changed circumstances that quickly, let alone political coalitions. People require time to calm down, reflect, talk, and develop new consensuses in their groups — then move those to progressively larger circles in the organization.

        Watch a flock of birds preparing to migrate. They don’t go from normal behavior to a launch. There is a long period of organization before then.

        As for abortion, that will probably be one of the interesting issues to watch. It’s of little interest to elites, but great importance to the shock troops. Elites have to manage their interests vs. those of the groups in their coalition. Americans are sheep, but even sheep are not robots.

    3. Fabius, thanks for your thoughtful reply. I definitely agree that abortion, and actually reproductive rights in general, are underrated issues compared to their importance.

  9. A thought about racial demographics and voting patterns. It does appear that the Republican vote has gotten progressively whiter over the past couple decades. In addition, it does seem that the percentage of the nation that’s considered “white” is shrinking. However, while this is an important strategic consideration in the short term, its meaning is less clear in the long term. The reason I say this is that the “White Tribe” can potentially enlarge itself through alliances. At some point it was decided that European Jews were white. At some future point it may be decided that Mexicans are white.

    1. FM wants hard numbers. So permit to get wonkish for a minute here.

      First, take a look at this chart showing that Asians have overtaken Hispanics as the biggest percent of new arrivals in America, from 2000 to 2010. We can see that Asian immigration is trending up, while Hispanic immigration is flattening by comparison (but still increasing faster than other demographic groups). Both groups skew Democratic, but Asians much more so because it turns out that a much higher proportion of Asian immigrants are college or postgraduate educated, and higher education tracks with Democratic voting patterns.

      So Asians are much more likely to vote Democratic than the regular population, and even more likely than Hispanics. Now let’s take a look at the proportion of Hispanic voters: it’s exploding. The only reason Hispanics haven’t yet become a major force nationally in the elections is that turnout for Hispanics has lagged their demographic growth.

      Now consider articles like this one, “Is the Republican party doomed? The author points out accurately that currently deep red Republican states like Texas are likely to turn Democratic in a couple of decades if current demographic trends continue. And they are likely to continue, because the stats show clearly that both Asians and Hispanics have larger family sizes than white or black Americans: the average household size for whites is 2.6, for Asians 3.0 and for Hispanics 3.5. This means that Hispanic and Asian groups are growing faster than whites because they’re having more kids.

      Now take a look at the regional shifts in demographics. Asians and Hispanics are moving disproportionately to large metropolitan areas on both coasts. Once again, this bodes well for Democrats but ill for Republicans because over the last 40 years, large metropolitan areas have consistently skewed Democratic while rural areas have trended Republican. You can see this on a large scale in FM’s maps a few posts back — the two coasts are deep blue, while the rural center of the country and the deep south are red.

      Put all these trends together and you come up with a dire picture for the Republican party. And if it seems absurd to imagine Texas as a Democratic state, consider that 40 years ago, California was a deep-red far-right Republican stronghold. By the 1990s, California had switched to a reliable Democratic majority state and has never shifted back.

      These trends aren’t going to run to extremes overnight, but it’s clear that there’s nothing on the horizon that would stop them.”Asian students, both foreign born and U.S. born, earned a plurality (45 percent) of all engineering Ph.D.s in 2010, as well as 38 percent of doctorates in math and computer sciences and 33 percent of doctorates in the physical sciences.” (Source: “Asian immigrants to U.S. now surpass Hispanics,” Huffington Post, 19 June 2012.) Shut off immigration and American university engineering and science and math departments would close overnight. So America can’t shut down Asian immigration even if we wanted to. Likewise, as someone who lived in Southern California for many years, I know that much of the economy of that state (and all the other southwestern states in America) depends on low-paid Hispanics. Despite mouthing pabulum about “getting tough on immigration,” neither political party can afford to clamp down on Hispanic legal or illegal immigration into the U.S. because if they ever did, the entire economy of the American southwest would collapse. Every fast food restaurant, every Jiffy-Lube oil change store, every K-Mart in the Southwest would shut down.

      This combination of remorseless trends and no viable path that would change these trends means that the Republican party’s base of support is currently thin, and getting much thinner as time passes. Take a look at FM’s own post about non-voters. They skew overwhelmingly liberal and Democratic. If the non-voters had voted in this current election, it would’ve been a Democratic landslide. Even worse: take a look at voter affiliation among young people age 18-35. This is absolutely lethal for Republicans.

      “Voters, like other consumers, develop brand loyalties early in life. The World War II generation, which came of age during the New Deal and cast its first votes for FDR and Harry Truman, sustained a Democratic majority for decades. Likewise, the Eisenhower generation that entered the workforce during the fifties remains Republican to this day; the counterculture generation of the sixties and seventies remains a Democratic stronghold; and “Gen X,” the famously angst-ridden generation that started voting in the eighties, continues to vote Republican as it enters middle age.

      “And today’s youth? Surprise! It turns out it’s a Democratic powerhouse. In the early nineties young voters began shifting rapidly toward the Democratic Party and haven’t looked back since, even after a Republican won the White House in 2000. Today, twenty-somethings lean Democratic by 52%-37%, an astonishing advantage of 15 percentage points. It’s a bigger gap than any other generation currently alive, and it’s already showing up in the voting booth. Last year, not only was turnout was up, but young voters cast their ballots for Democratic congressional candidates by 60% to 38%.”

      Source: “Miscellaneous Obama blogging,” Kevin Drum, January 2008 at the Washington Monthly website.

      FM dismisses claims that the Republican party has thin support because “Romney got nearly half the vote.” He overlooks the fact that white elderly voters are much more likely to vote (70% rate) than younger voters age 35 and under (under 30%). But notice what these demographic trends portend: as the current generation of young people ages, they will vote in increasing percentages, since voter turnout reliably increases with age and has for generations. But since younger voters turned sharply Democratic in party affiliation in the 1990s and have never switched back, this means that as time passes, more and more of the electorate will be voting Democratic.

    2. Mr. More, these are all good points about the difference voting patterns of younger white voters vs. older white voters. I guess that I become frustrated with self-satisfied liberals who are sure that the shrinking percentage of whites in the USA means that the future belongs to Democrats, when actually racism is more flexible and clever than they realize.

  10. My take on the Republican Party is that change will be slow, if at all. Its “spokesman” Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and the legions of talk radio nuts, and their followers will not change. These people are more of a cult than a political party. Logic and the good of the nation does not enter their thought process.
    I have talked with a few well educated Hispanics and Blacks on their vote. Their view is that Obama is a good man, demonized by the right wing press. One Hispanic had his kids watch the presidential debates, CNN, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, CNBC ect and encourged them to make their own decision. That was, “Dad these Republicans don’t like us very much”.

    The Republican candiates and media fired up Obama’s base,and helped expand it. In their attempt to win the Republicans made a deal with the devil and for that they paid a heavy price.

    PS I did not vote for Obama or Romney.

    1. “My take on the Republican Party is that change will be slow, if at all.”

      I agree. More interstingly, why does anyone expect it to be anything but slow? Most organizations (ie, corporations, whether profit or non-profit) react slowly to changed circumstances, if they react at all. The GOP is not a corporation, but a large, complex, political coalition — structurally different than the usual european Party. I doubt it could react quickly, even if the 2012 election was the 2nd or third in a series of crushing defeats (instead of what it was, a relatively close defeat, following a win in 2010, following a loss in 2008 …).

      This debate illustrates the broken nature of American’s OODA loops, where discussions begin with wildly unrealistic premises and spin off into the blue yonder. Much like the great COIN debate, the climate change debate, and a thousand other mutant intellectual blooms in the past decade.

    2. Catfish,

      Here’s my view, which could easily be wrong (eg, I have little data to support it, as its based on a big picture structural view of the US polity): Rush and the other talking heads are shock troops for the GOP, not leaders.

      When the GOP elites develop a new party line, the current “big name” conservatives will either follow or now. Those that don’t follow will be quickly marginalized by GOP elites.

      What are the elites saying? We don’t know. A distinguishing characteristic of The New America is that its elites prefer to remain in the shadows. That’s always been true to some degree, but not to the extent as today.

      It’s true in my experience (one man’s view of a small slice of one community) of local society. Local non-profits are increasingly controlled by elites operating outside the formal leadership structure. This weakens the organization, but better suits the elites’ preferences.

  11. As noted in some previous discussions here, we can recognize in our “two-party” system the dynamics of a good cop / bad cop ploy. The bad cop in such a charade need not win, only remain a credible threat. In this view, it is understandable that Wall Street and the elites publicly side with the bad cop—that contributes to the effectiveness of the illusion. We should remember, though, that they really don’t care much which side wins, as both are in their employ.

    I would guess that the Republican Party can remain a credible threat for quite some time without bothering to change course in any significant way. There are plenty of frustrated and angry Americans for whom the path of least cognitive dissonance leads to blaming those worse off than themselves for all their problems… quite enough to be genuinely frightening to the rest of us.

  12. I must agree with FM that the Democratic party has not been a “radical left” party at any point, even during FDR’s administration, when the Democratic party leaned as far to the left as it ever has, historically speaking.

    The evidence that the Democratic party is a centrist party comes from many sources. For example, Huey Long ran significantly to the left of FDR, proposing a form of guaranteed income that FDR only timidly and partially embraced in a few speeches in his final term, and a proposal which never made it onto the senate or house floor.

    The Democratic party utterly failed to get behind Truman’s nationalized universal health care proposal in 1948 — and even that isn’t a “radical left” policy, since essentially every other first world nation has nationalized universal health care today.

    The Democratic party refused to reduce the military budget to any significant degree, even after the end of the Cold War, and more recently the Democratic party was responsible for draconian cuts in welfare that left hundreds of thousands of children living cars with their homeless parents.

    A genuinely radical left political party would advocate policies like these:

    [1] Universal nationalized health care
    [2] An end to foreign wars and drastic reduction of U.S. military spending
    [3] Much higher taxes on the rich, and possibly confiscation of private property considered excessive (i.e., mansions with more than 10,000 square feet forcibly converted to public libraries, billion-dollar superyachts seized and sold off to pay for food for malnourished children, etc.)
    [4] A VAT tax on the rich — i.e., mandatory 20% VAT tax on every purchase of an item costing more than a million dollars
    [5] Indictment of the Wall Street criminals who caused the 2008 global financial meltdown
    [6] Changing the current U.S. free market system to something more along the Mondragon Cooperative in the Basque region of Spain.
    [7] Establishing a guaranteed minimum income.
    [8] Making the elimination of poverty and malnutrition, especially among U.S. children, a top priority
    [9] Placing a cap on maximum annual income — say, 10 million dollars a year, with all income over that confiscated by the government.
    [10] Elimination of money and the substitution of something else, like whuffie
    [11] Laws created by open-source peer production using social media, as is now occurring in Iceland

    I don’t see any major American political party advocating policies like these, and I don’t believe any major American political party ever has.

    1. “I must agree with FM that the Democratic party has not been a “radical left” party at any point, even during FDR’s administration”

      That’s a bit broader than anything I would say. What was the standard of “radical left” in 1932? I have no idea, but it’s an interesting question. Some of FDR’s 1933 policies might have been radical at the time, such as the National Industrial Recovery Act.

  13. I think in 1932 the gold standard for “radical left” was the American Communist Party, which was actually viable at the time, believe it or not. Some (not many) highly educated people joined the American Communist Party in the 1930s because they perceived it as the only alternative to fascism.

    By that standard, FDR was positively rightward leaning. He did, after all, strive to balance the budget in 1937, leading to a renewed recession.

  14. early signs?:

    McCain on Fox News Sunday:

    McCAIN: I think we have to have a bigger tent. No doubt about it, and, obviously we have to do immigration reform. There is no doubt whatsoever that the demographics are not on our side and we are going to have to give a much more positive agenda. […] And as far as young women are concerned, absolutely. I don’t think anybody like me, I can state my position on abortion, but, to — other than that, leave the issue alone. When we are in the kind of economic situation and, frankly, national security situation we’re in.

    CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): When you say leave the issue alone, you would allow, you say, freedom of choice?

    McCAIN: I would allow people to have those opinions and respect those opinions and I’m proud of my pro-life position and record, but if someone disagrees with me, I respect your views.


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