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Posted by on Nov 8, 2012 in 2012 Elections, Featured, Politics | 24 comments

Damn the Demographics- Full Speed Ahead

The Republican loss in the national election was due to a combination of hubris and a disregard of demographics. While the party won the overall white vote by a substantial margin, they lost the black, Latino, and Asian-American vote by an even greater margin. And the youth vote, which Republican pundits had predicted would be down this cycle, was actually higher than in 2008. Voters 18-29 constituted 19% of the electorate, compared to 18% four years ago and 60% of them supported President Obama. Gay voters, who probably make up 3%-4% of the population, likely voted overwhelmingly for Obama.

Of course, the GOP can counter with the fact that they again won the House, and that their control in that body should be pretty much the same. However, their Congressional victories were helped by redistricting done by Republican governors and legislatures in many states that gave Republican candidates the advantage. They lost most of the swing districts they had won 2010, including all of New England and some in New York.

The fact of the matter is that the demographic make-up of the United States is changing and the Republican Party is not adapting to that change. Though the party is favored by older white voters, particularly men and the rural population, the country is becoming more multi-colored and concentrated in metropolitan areas. If the Republicans are going to remain viable as a party, they are going to have to change their policies and appeal to blacks, Latinos, Asians, young people, women and gays. And they will have to develop initiatives that benefit urban citizens.

Realistic immigration reform, with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have lived in this country for awhile, is absolutely necessary, and even more comprehensive than the Dream Act. Deportation of 12 million people is logistically and economically not feasible and “illegals” must not be demonized. Strict monitoring of our borders can still be a priority.

With young people being more socially liberal, more tolerant, and with less church affiliation than their parents, Republicans have to stop focusing on abortion and same-sex marriage, concentrating on the issues that directly impact the younger generation. These include the national debt, unemployment, and the economy in general. But a strong safety net also has to be provided for them including unemployment insurance for a reasonable period and health insurance coverage at a reasonable cost.

Both women and young people also want to keep government out of people’s bedrooms, allowing unfettered access to contraception and with less resistance for women’s right to choose. And funding for Planned Parenthood clinics should be continued for women’s health and contraception, though the federal government does not have to pay for any abortions that are performed.

Young people are also more concerned with global warming than those who are older, as they will have to live with the consequences. The GOP needs to become more environmentally friendly and consider ways to deal with climate change if they want to be seen in a positive way by the young.

For urban dwellers, well-functioning mass transit is important, and this needs to be addressed by the Republicans. This includes inter-city rail such as Amtrak as well as intra-city transportation. In fact, virtually every facet of the nation’s infrastructure has to be modernized to keep America competitive, as well as providing jobs.

The last issue Republicans have to consider is changing their stand on guns. Though this is the true third rail of American politics and was not even mentioned in this election cycle, reducing gun violence is important to urban residents. There is no reason why gun usage for self-protection and hunting is incompatible with reasonable gun laws, such as bans on assault weapons and hollow-point bullets.

Large demographic groups in America favor programs that are antithetical to current Republican policies. The question is whether the Republican Party will be willing to change its policies to attract people to its banner from these groups, or continue to lose future elections by larger and larger margins.

Resurrecting Democracy

A VietNam vet and a Columbia history major who became a medical doctor, Bob Levine has watched the evolution of American politics over the past 40 years with increasing alarm. He knows he’s not alone. Partisan grid-lock, massive cash contributions and even more massive expenditures on lobbyists have undermined real democracy, and there is more than just a whiff of corruption emanating from Washington. If the nation is to overcome lockstep partisanship, restore growth to the economy and bring its debt under control, Levine argues that it will require a strong centrist third party to bring about the necessary reforms. Levine’s previous book, Shock Therapy For the American Health Care System took a realist approach to health care from a physician’s informed point of view; Resurrecting Democracy takes a similar pragmatic approach, putting aside ideology and taking a hard look at facts on the ground. In his latest book, Levine shines a light that cuts through the miasma of party propaganda and reactionary thinking, and reveals a new path for American politics. This post is cross posted from his blog.

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Copyright 2012 The Moderate Voice
  • zephyr

    Good analysis. Yes, the reps will continue to lose if they don’t expand their tent. They are about tapped out on white males and it still isn’t enough. Also they need to follow William F. Buckley’s advice and ditch the crazies in their party. You can’t attract new, young and smart voters if your reputation includes pandering to whackos. The subservience to Grover Norquist and Rush Limbaugh also needs to end. If they do these things maybe they won’t become obsolete… maybe.

  • zephyr

    Oh, and the redistricting trick to keep the house won’t work forever.

  • I agree with the author that the solution for Republicans is to become Democrats, or at least adopt Democratic policies across the board while claiming to be a different party. Snark – in case no one noticed.

    We need viable parties, more than one and maybe more than two. But, the parties need to have real and substantial differences and present real choices to the voters. Asking Republicans to become me-too Democrat-lite is not the answer. Republicans can move responsibly to become more in touch with a majority of Americans without going all in to become the me-too party.

  • zusa1
  • Rambie

    Tidbits, I agree we need two viable parties. However, the GOP is running on 30-year old fiscal ideology that’s been proven WRONG. Then we get into the GOP’s social agenda and open a whole new set of issues that set the GOP against the majority of American’s. Finally the GOP’s dismissive attitudes toward any one who doesn’t agree with them in lock-step.

    Yes, we need two viable parties, but we only have one currently.

  • jdledell

    One of the issues that seems to have been ignored in the discussion of demographics is the significance of people of mixed race. Whether Republicans like it or not there is an increase in mixed marriages and just looking around on any street corner you can see it in reality.

    The issue that should concern Republicans is not just the sheer number of Hispanics, Blacks and Asians but their outgrowth from mixed marriages. To blow away minorities will affect not only this generation but also the next generation of inter-marriage with whites. The last census has documented the number of people who no longer fit just one racial category.

    I know this from my own family. I’m an old white Jew as is my wife. However, one son married a girl from Mongolia whom he met while doing graduate studies at Keio University in Tokyo and a daughter who married a native of Bangalore, India while studying at London School of Economics. Our grandchildren gladly call themselves children of the world – neither white nor Asian.

  • Carl

    The United States is more than a democracy experiment. It is also an experiment for the viability of peaceful, prosperous co-existence between the diversified peoples of the world seamlessly working together as one species. I believe that if the human species is going to survive it will need to form a global government one day. Currently, it appears that the United States and European models of representative democracy gives the world the best opportunity for Global conflict resolution, with equitable shared resources and wealth under a global government body. Though that form may change, change without violence is the basic point of democracy. Democracy may take different forms in a peaceful future world united and we all should scrutinize them with an open, but an intelligent, and, most of all, compassionate mind.

    I’m not sure how many political divisions or “parties” the world may need, but considering the very premise of democracy, I would think that it most important that partisan gerrymandering be eliminated as soon as possible within this American experiment.

  • sheknows

    The Republicans didn’t just show disregard, they showed disdain for minorities and women who are second class citizens to the white, predominantly christian, male dominated, 200 year old ideology of their party. They just don’t GET it, and worse.. don’t want to.
    Perhaps they will form a “new” Republican party now that they are forced to consider that they are no longer the ruling class, but in all likeliness still be rooted in their “core” beliefs.
    There is always room for various political ideas from numerous sources. Since we are a melting pot of those ideas, other parties would be a welcomed change from the two party system we now struggle with. Being too conservative vs too liberal is not the only way to go.

  • zusa1

    “Both women and young people also want to keep government out of people’s bedrooms, allowing unfettered access to contraception and with less resistance for women’s right to choose. And funding for Planned Parenthood clinics should be continued for women’s health and contraception, though the federal government does not have to pay for any abortions that are performed.”

    The problem with this is that money is fungible. This is certainly an area where dem’s could concede. Please consider: If people don’t want government in their bedroom, should their bedroom be in government’s wallet? Certainly for the peace of the nation, private funding should be pursued.

  • The GOP did their best to trot out their few non-white politicians at the convention and some of the SuperPAC ads did their “best” to try to appeal to minorities. All that said, I’m sure you all have felt what it’s like to walk into a room and not feel welcomed. In speaking with people of a less-pasty complexion than myself (many of whom I like to call friends and one of whom is my wife), they simply do not feel welcomed by the party. The attempts at “inclusion” feel forced and sometimes are borderline offensive (Romney’s tan-job before his Univision interview for instance). I’m not really sure what they can do in the near-term to solve this problem.

    My wife is from Colombia and our future children will be half Euro-Mutt, half Latino (which is also a Mutt-type). I have my MS in chemical engineering and she just defended her PhD in plant biology. We also happen to be Catholic and *personally as a family* somewhat socially conservative (though I’m a social Libertarian when it comes to the rest of society – what’s good for me may not be good for others). My wife has told me she doesn’t feel terribly welcome by the GOP. As a non-evangelical Catholic, I don’t particularly enjoy the GOP’s social rhetoric. And we both certainly have major problems with the GOP’s current disdain for science. I don’t feel terribly welcomed in their party either. Post 9/11 the GOP pretty much lost me for good (even before, I had voted Libertarian in 2000 in protest in Maryland). They’ll need to work extraordinarily hard for my wife and I to ever consider voting for them. I had really been interested in Huntsman, but the GOP was not. That – among many other things – pretty much did it for me.

  • zusa1

    Isn’t there a bit of a catch22 regarding non-whites in the GOP? On the one hand the GOP is condemned for having so few non-white members and on the other hand, when a non-white voices support for the GOP, they are condemned(I’m putting this mildly…the dem’s aren’t always the party of nice…especially when they think someone has crossed them).

  • Z, yes, there does appear to be some of a Catch-22. Speaking for my wife and for my friends, I think they would see a lot more to it if the GOP out-rightly condemned those who use subtle coded language. If the party was making a better attempt to change their tone.

    There’s a genuineness or worldliness factor missing. To such a degree that when they have a Marco Rubio or a Herman Cain, it’s eye-roll inducing for some. I don’t think the party is racist. I don’t assume all GOP-members are racist. But I would say that if you’re a racist, you’re quite a bit more likely to answer the dog-whistle calls sent out by some in the GOP over the Dems.

    (FWIW I don’t really see myself as a Democrat or Liberal as much as I am anti-current-Republican Party… if that makes me a Democrat in the eyes of many, so-be-it.)

  • To put it another way, many feel that the GOP sees non-white people as inherently less-American. It doesn’t help when the party allows a Sarah Palin to claim to that there’s a “Real America” and that some of us don’t belong to it. We’re all aware how much Fox News and the GOP are in bed with each other. The amount of anti-everything on that channel really turns non-whites (and even this white guy) off. The GOP has a serious branding and marketing issue ahead of them.

  • zusa1

    SS, Well put.

  • Maybe other alternatives will be present for voters in the future besides the GOP and Democrats- see Big Middle Alliance, a nascent opportunity for a centrist third party in Iowa

  • Rcoutme

    In 2008 the GOP lost damn near everything. They changed by embracing the Tea Party and going completely over the rationality cliff. I am not yet ready to suggest that they follow the Whig party, but it is getting close. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. One of the reasons that the Democratic Party has not gotten corrupted absolutely is that even when they hold all three elected branches, they don’t really get along with each other. They believe in independent thought (although they will also punish independent thought).

    When I lived in PA, I had a governor who was a Democrat and was pro-life. I had a Senator (Heinz) who would likely have become president if he had not died in a plane crash. These two men were two of the best politicians in the country. They were not in that league because of their unflinching honesty, impeccable voting records or saintly personal lives. I do not know about most of those things concerning them. I do know, however, that they worried more about consistency in their views than they did about whether or not they agreed with their party’s platform.

    If the Republicans want to survive as a party, they do not have to give up all of their convictions. They simply have to be willing to accept that those items they can not affect w/o Constitutional Amendment are likely to be causes they should simply STFU about. It simply amazes me that the Democratic Party endorses abortion on demand w/o restriction. If they would simply drop the issue entirely, they would eliminate the main obstacle that traditionalist Christians (like me, yeah, I know, you hate my stand, I am a Neanderthal, etc) have against them. It would be very hard for a Republican to run against Gov. Casey because the evangelical claims against him would not hold up. Thus, he swept into office and held it easily.

  • sheknows

    I don’t think the Dems look at Marco Rubio, Herman Cain, Michael Steele or Condoleeza as people who have “crossed” them and condemnation came not from Democrats so much as from Republicans in the case of Cain and Rubio. Romney could have done the party a BIG favor if he had chosen Rubio instead of Ryan, but it was his fellow Republicans who were opposed to that.
    It is about the view Republicans hold toward minorities that is the problem. One I hope will change drastically in our lifetime.

  • zusa1

    sk, I acknowledge the rep’s need to look inward, but when there is so much backlash towards an actress supporting Romney…you can’t deny there is unpleasant peer pressure as well.

  • sheknows

    lol, well there was alot of backlash for the empty chair as well but that’s because we have preconceived ideas about what our entertainers think based on the roles they play. We don’t or shouldn’t have them about are elected officials. 🙂

  • Maybe it’s time to be optimistic.

    In ages past, the path to power (both here in the U.S. as well as many, many places abroad), the path to power was blazed by both anger and having a group to hate. It’s worked over and over and over again.

    The optimism comes in when you realize those tactics are (slowly) losing their effectiveness in American politics.

  • dduck


  • sometimes

    I’m not sure how much the GOP should change so much as simplify:

    – Re: tax policy…the idea of not trading 10 dollars of spending cuts for 1 dollar of increased revenue is simply nonsense. Grover Norquist needs to be marginalized.
    – Re: immigration…make it easier to emigrate, so be less hostile, more open to the process, but also maintain the concerns about illegal immigration.
    – Re: social policies…this is really tough and where blood will be drawn. Either you adopt the libertarian polices (out of the bedroom) or you try to appeal to the social conservative beliefs. I suppose you could pretzel your way to a “states rights” view and support someone like Mitt Romney. Oh right.

    In the end, I think the Republican party is in danger of trying too hard to appeal to people who aren’t going to go with them anyway, and the result would only be to alienate the base. I would certainly avoid going after any specific group as well. I do feel they can work on their tone, but also work to build bridges with other communities without pandering (like Romney did in Puerto Rico). So essentially they need to get the Rockefeller Republican back before they all become democrats – if they haven’t already.

  • Carl

    Big picture is: The world is getting smaller and we all have to work harder to get along.

    In our country, that requires sharing the power according to the principal that the Majority Rules, with the Minority being protected by the first ten amendments to the constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights. As well as additional amendments since.

    Majority don’t rule if a rich minority can buy the media and scare everyone with false information creating a lemming voting majority.

    i.e.; I take away your livelihood because it’s my business and I own you, so vote my way or else.

    Converted to Modern English: Taxing the rich will prevent the job creators from hiring.

    If you buy into this crap then they own your vote. Slavery revisited New Millennia.

    Business has always been with us and it always survives. But it is imperative that we redefine the basic conditions for its legal operation in the public interest.

  • SteveK

    All this back-and-forth brings to mind the Einstein quote (whether he actually said it or not is not worth the segue) – “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

    Before the ‘righties’ (elections are over I can call y’all righties again) here start piling-on… BOTH parties need to start talking, and more importantly BOTH parties need to start listening too.

    The lower house didn’t switch as I predicted BUT enough of the Tea Party freshmen and potential new TPer’s were shown the door that now the Republican “adults in the room” can take charge. All we need now is a removal of the hate mongering pundits from both sides whose jobs are keeping us at each other’s throats.

    With Keith Olbermann gone, Grover Norquist and Sean Hannity would be a good place for the right to start… Who knows, we mind we might actually get something done in the next 4 months… 2 years… 4 years.

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