Saturday, September 15, 2012

Responding To Death By Demography

Patrick J. Buchanan sounded the alarm when in late July he wrote

Race, age and ethnicity are at the heart of the problem. And they portend not only the party’s death in California, but perhaps its destiny in the rest of America.

Consider. Almost 90 percent of all Republican voters in presidential elections are white. Almost 90 percent are Christians. But whites fell to 74 percent of the electorate in 2008 and were only 64 percent of the population. Christians are down to 75 percent of the population from 85 in 1990. The falloff continues and is greatest among the young.

Consider ethnicity. Hispanics were 15 percent of the U.S. population in 2008 and 7.4 percent of the electorate. Both percentages will inexorably rise...

Of the seven mega-states, California, New York and Illinois appear lost to the GOP. Pennsylvania has not gone Republican since 1988. Ohio and Florida, both crucial, are now swing states. Whites have become a minority in Texas. When Texas goes, America goes.

This year could be the last hurrah...

If your racial and ethnic voter base is aging, shrinking and dying, your moral code is being rejected, and the tax-consuming class has been allowed to grow to equal or to dwarf the taxpaying class, the Grand Old Party has a problem.

Buchanan followed that with "but so does the country."   Without the ethnic or class animus, CNN's Fareed Zakaria recognizes

a demographic problem for the Republicans. They are alienating too many large groups to be viable - at least in the long run. A recent Pew poll shows Obama with an 18-point advantage over Mitt Romney with women because of the recent discussions about contraception and abortion.  Polls show Latinos supporting President Obama 6-to-1 over Mitt Romney. African Americans poll something like 9-to-1 in Obama’s favor.

Seemingly panicked, Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) summarized "The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term."

What's a party to do?     It could have (warning: awful cliche ahead) "doubled down," but that would have risked the opprobrium of the media, generally sympathetic to the plight of ethnic minorities, especially immigrants.   The GOP might have increased its appeal to minorities, but would risk its overwhelming support among men and with married women with children. The Party might have chosen to ignore the issue and hoped it went away, but with Obama ordering Dream Act Lite (and himself being black), it wasn't going to disappear.

No, the problem needed to be addressed.   And so it has.  In state after state, as noted by Timothy Noah, voter suppression efforts are underway, whether by targeting non-profit groups which conduct voter registration drives, shortening polling hours, automated phone calls discouraging registered voters from going to the polls, or requiring voter identification.

The latter, of course, has proven to be the suppression tactic of choice of Pennsylvania's GOP.    A Republican Commonwealth Court judge last month denied a preliminary injunction against the state, even after it stipulated that there have been no investigations or prosecution of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania, it is unaware of any incidents of such fraud anywhere in the U.S.A., and it would offer no evidence that any in-person voter fraud would be prevented by the new photo ID law.

The law is ineffective in combating a problem which doesn't exist, with ten cases (eleven, including Mitt Romney) of in-person voter fraud in the U.S.A. since 2000.    But in the Keystone State, as elsewhere, GOP officials have had to confront the demographic time bomb.  And if they're unable or unwilling to modify their tone or wish the issue away, and if going after the rights of blacks, women, immigrants, students, or the disabled is just too risky, there is only one option available.   And they've taken it.

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