Monday, November 12, 2012

Where to now for the Republicans? The race and gender problem

With the US election over and Barack Obama back in the Oval Office, a shellshocked Republican Party is wondering how they could possibly lose to that horrible socialist. Questions are being asked and fingers are being pointed, mostly at anywhere but themselves of course.

Romney garnered about 58% of the white vote, but lost badly to Obama amongst minorities. Approximately 69% of Hispanics voted for Obama, as did 93% of Blacks and 74% of Asians. So unsurprisingly, Republican figures like Mike Huckabee were making noises about how they badly need to reach out to minorities, and Hispanics in particular. Even Sean Hannity, Fox News' most aggressive hardline conservative, has "evolved" in his thoughts on immigrants. Of course, had Romney won, Hannity would be ranting about illegals like always.

It's not just racial groups that went solidly for the Democrats. While 53% of married women voted for Romney, 68% of single women backed Obama. And according to one poll, 90% of voters who identified as gay voted for Obama as well.

"The country is divided." That's what you will hear from those on the Republican side as they survey the damage. And to a point they are right. What most of them will fail to grasp, however, is who is responsible for dividing it. They'll say Obama. But if you have been paying attention, it's easy to see how they've been the architects of their own downfall. For all the talk of Obama running a negative campaign, the Right's negative campaign began years ago. Here are some reminders of what's been going on the past 4 years:

Deriding Obama as an "affirmative action President", who assumed the office based on a rigged system and politically correct white guilt and couldn't get there on his own merits.
The long-running hysteria over "Black Liberation Theology", and the refusal to grasp why some African-Americans might have mixed feelings about their nation's "glorious" history.
The interminable speculation about Obama's birth certificate, as well as about his academic records, implying that he couldn't have become president of the Harvard Law Review without doing something dodgy . Glenn Beck's claim that Obama is racist against white people.

Is it any wonder that many black voters doubled down on their support for the first African-American President?

Then let's throw these things into the mix:

Arizona's Republican governor introducing the SB1070 Act to combat illegal immigration, which was widely denounced as a draconian exercise in racial profiling of Hispanics. Mitt Romney arguing for "self-deportation". The Republican Party's long-standing opposition to a path for citizenship for illegal aliens.

Republican hysteria about the mosque being built near ground zero in New York City. Michelle Bachmann and friends dreaming up conspiracy theories about Muslims infiltrating the government. The continual conjecture that Obama is a Muslim, with frequent references to his middle name "Hussein" by Republican-aligned figures, and the implication that being a Muslim is intrinsically a bad thing.

The Republican stance on gay issues is likewise a loser for them. It's one thing to oppose gay marriage; but there are lots of leading GOP figures who fervently believe that being gay is merely a "lifestyle choice", that homosexuality can be cured, and that there is a gay agenda to destroy the traditional family.

Add to that Romney's comments about the "47%", echoed by Fox News vilifying the poor as "moochers" and calls from around the GOP to raise taxes on lower income Americans while lowering them for the wealthiest.

So which side is dividing America, again?

The Repubs are in trouble long-term if they can't modernise. It's worth noting that the conservative parties of the other Anglosphere nations (Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand) would probably be branded socialists by Republicans in the US, as they have far more progressive views on sexuality, gender, abortion and health care.

One of their biggest problems is Fox News. The most popular cable news station in the country, it provides the news that conservatives want to hear, as opposed to actual news. This means that a large percentage of the population exists inside an echo chamber and don't realise that they are being left behind by not just the rest of the country, but the rest of the world.


  1. The Republicans have one of two options, both of which are bad for their viability as an effective political party.

    They either have to go all-in as a white nationalist party, and start deporting a lot of illegal immigrants, not to mention revoking birthright citizenship for Hispanic sons and daughters of illegal immigrants.

    However, doing that would not only completely alienate non-whites from their party, but also scare away some white moderates and independents as well. That, in addition to running afoul of the big businesses and corporations who dominate the Republican party, and wouldn't take kindly to being deprived of extra cheap labor.

    Or, they need to start emulating the Democrats and make their party more Hispanic and Asian friendly. But doing so would alienate much of their white middle American base.

    (I consider the black vote to be a lost cause for them)

    Either way, the Republican party looks like it is done.

    What I do find interesting, however, is that whites seem to be the only racial group that doesn't vote as a mostly monolithic bloc. I think that as their numbers continue to decline, this will change. I can't imagine most white liberal/Democratic voters will remain content as the Democratic party increasingly becomes non-white dominated.

    If the Republicans toned down their extreme rhetoric on issues such as gay marriage and abortion, and became more moderate on economic issues, they could maybe attract these types of white voters.

    Either way, I do think that American elections will be increasingly influenced by race.

    1. While 2016 is the Dems' to lose, a lot can happen in 4 years. To be honest, I don't think the Repubs are done. They will have a future as long as there are stupid fundamentalist Christians aplenty in the country. I think a lot can revolve around voter turnout, and Repubs are normally pretty good at motivating the base. I think that will be one lesson they will learn from this year - improve their "ground game" and go out into the heartland and register voters.

      As you posit, I think at some point, the GOP will start to shed some of its more regressive social views. You can't fight science forever.

      Australia is a far more secular country than the US, but let me tell you about our right-wing party (ironically called the Liberal Party). They are very much like the Republicans on economic issues, but we have "socialist" healthcare and they aren't planning to touch it. A minority of the party are outspoken in their support of gay marriage. Abortion is rarely discussed as a major issue.
      The Repubs could go in that direction, which would give voters a choice based largely on economic philosophy. The question is, would the Christian Right come along for the ride, or would they break off? My guess is the former: witness the way they mostly fell into line behind McCain and Romney, despite neither being sufficiently evangelical.