Norman Ornstein discusses the hill Republicans have to climb to get back into power.
In so many respects -- culturally, ethnically, sociologically, internationally -- the election of Barack Obama has altered the landscape. It also has changed the political terrain, making the path for Republicans to return to majority status in the electorate daunting -- an uphill climb akin to scaling Mt. Everest. Without pitons.The party certainly has come a long way since Ronald Reagan's landslide in 1980. So what does the party have left in terms of voters?
Most ominous for the GOP is what has been happening with younger voters. As a share of the electorate, 18- to 29-year-olds grew only slightly, from 17% to 18%. But they grew in terms of numbers of voters by more than 2.2 million (perhaps up to 4.5 million) and gave 66% of their votes to Obama. Partisan identity tends to crystallize in this age range. If Obama succeeds over the next four or eight years, these voters may carry their Democratic identity through their lifetimes. For Republicans, the danger is that their only reliable voting bloc may remain older white guys. Make that older Protestant white guys. Ouch.Well that does not look very promising. So who has the party lost? It lost the fiscal conservatives due to profligate spending. It has also lost the socially liberal due to the pandering to the concerns of the Protestant white guys.
Republicans need to be more than just the only other option on the ballot in four years. They must find a message -- be it a more refined compassionate conservativism, the folksy populism of Mike Huckabee or even a fiscally conservative/environmentally conservationist fusion -- that speaks to the segments of the electorate that are growing. And then they need a leader to deliver it. At this early date after a dramatic election, there is no sign they have either.I don't know that an environmentalism that is determined to wreck the economy is a sound move.
So lets look at the Democrat's coalition and see if we can figure out the problem. Who are they? Blacks, Gays, Jews, Catholics, pro-abortion folks, illegal drug users. There are more but there are enough there to make my point. It seems like a very disparate group with nothing in common. I mean what do pro abortion people have in common with Catholics? It is pretty simple really. These groups have all, in the last 100 years or so been victims of those Protestant white guys. All you have to do is to look at the electoral map of 2008. What does the Republican Party have left? Basically they have the Old South. Home of those Older Protestant white guys. And if you look at the map closely the Democrats have even been making inroads into the home territory of the older Protestant white guys. Not a happy prospect for the future.
Here is what one academic author has to say about authoritarianism in the South.
White Southerners, always hegemonic in defining the region’s history, politics and culture, frequently demonstrate, and have demonstrated, strikingly strong resistance to diversity. While Southern white party loyalties have switched from majority Democratic to majority Republican, intolerance of difference appears woven into the region’s political and social fabric, more so than in other regions. This observation draws substantial support from historical studies (Goldfield 2002), and other research examining specific elements of Southern culture, i.e. the Southern culture of honor (Nisbett and Cohen 1996), Southern Baptist and other evangelical Protestant religious traditions (Rosenberg 1989; Smith 1997; Green et al. 2003)And as that resistance to diversity finally declines so does party loyalty.
So what is the way forward? Sarah Palin. Why her? She represents a new strain of deeply devout Protestant evangelical. The people of Alaska didn't even know her religious affiliation until this election. She did not practice the intolerance of those old Protestant white guys. No one had a clue about her stance on abortion. And that is a big clue. Basically she was fiscally conservative and socially moderate. In other words a libertarian. No surprise there. She comes from Alaska, the most libertarian state in the nation.
She represents a rebirth of the Leave Us Alone Coalition. About time.
H/T Hot Air
Cross Posted at Classical Values