Where We Go From Here: Republicans and a Changing Demographic

There has already been endless commentary on where we go from here after the recent election.  For my own part, I can only offer a few thoughts.

If the numbers are correct, the Republicans didn’t lose the election because of failure to convince their own.  By many measures, Romney out performed both McCain and George W. Bush in the Republican Party stronghold subgroups.  Consider that Romney took upwards of 59% of the white vote, while McCain garnered 56% and Bush took 57% and 56% in each of his election years.  (Source:  Gallup).  On the other hand, numerous sources have documented the decline in the Hispanic vote for Republicans of the last several decades.

The reason for the lost election, in part, is the changing demographics of the nation.  The subgroups in which Republicans have performed, and continue to perform well, are declining in their representation as a percent of the American people, whereas the demographic subgroups in which the Democrats typically perform well are experiencing an increase in their percent share of the population.  The dilemma, it seems, is that these demographic changes are on a trajectory that seems unlikely to change, which spells a particular problem for the Republican Party in years to come.  Mitt Romney lost the popular vote by less than three million votes, but ABC news reported on election night that if the percent of vote for each party in the various demographic subgroups stays the same, the Republicans will lose the 2020 election by more than fourteen million votes.

What this suggests is that the Republicans need to think carefully about how to attract votes on which they have not yet had to rely.  As Catholics, this should concerns us, because a very real possibility is that some within the party will push for a more relaxed stance on social issues, particularly abortion and same-sex marriage.  It doesn’t help that President Obama, after insisting in 2008 that abortion need not be a divisive issue and that we can all agree about the need to reduce the number of abortions, made it the issue of the closing weeks in the election cycle.  If the Republican Party puts forth a candidate that is in favor abortion and same sex marriage, Catholics who are interested in following teachings of the magisterium will be left without a candidate for whom they can cast a vote.  There will inevitably be a third party, but for many of us, this is not at all desirable.  Indeed, there was a time in the 2008 primary when we thought this would happen, had Rudy Giuliani maintained his early momentum.

It could also be that the party will become softer on religious freedom.  As American becomes more and more secularized, what was once a “fundamental right” will no longer be seen as important.  When the country was founded, virtually everybody had a vested interest in having their religious freedom both codified in the Constitution and defended in the public square.  But “times are-a-changin’,” and there are a growing number of people who are militantly opposed to organized religion.  It used to be that the atheists would keep to themselves and be content to simply laugh at us, but now they are going more and more on the offensive.  If there aren’t enough people who care about the freedom to practice their religion, then it will be difficult indeed to defend against attacks that seek to dismantle that liberty, particularly if the attacks are cloaked in the pursuit of a perceived greater freedom.

I propose that conservative Catholics be proactive in this regard.  Rather than waiting for suggestions that we bend on social issues, it is time that we put forward our own: it is time to take up the issue of immigration.  Now, I am the first to admit that this is an issue where people of good will can disagree, that the implementation of the principle differs from the principle itself, which is why it is not considered one of the “non-negotiables.”  However, we all know that this is the one area that we take the biggest hit from the American episcopacy.  Further, I really believe that this is low hanging fruit in some regards.  I think we can push forward with a reform agenda without compromising basic principles.

However, and I cannot emphasize this enough, it simply will not do to wait until four years from now.  We cannot hope to convince the nation of our seriousness to address this issue just months before an election. We cannot even wait until the midterm elections.  The time is now, and here is what I propose to our Republican representatives in Congress:

The financial cliff about which we have read so much in the last couple months is just around the corner.  The Bush era tax cuts are on the line.  The Republicans rightly want to renew all of these cuts, whereas the Democrats only want to renew those that don’t affect the wealthy.  I am not an economist, so I am not equipped to fully discuss the impact of each position.  However, it seems to me that the Democrats have enough political capital at the moment to push their agenda through.  I suggest that the Republicans in Congress recognize this and make a deal with the President.  We (meaning the Republican leadership) will accept his plan for the Bush era tex cuts, but we want assurance that (1) the very first issue tackled after the new year is a serious immigration reform package, and (2) we want to be a part of it.  We want our ideas heard, and we want credited with them.

From that point on, the Republican need to maintain both commitment and compassion as the package is assembled.  They need to stand up for the principle of basic human dignity and not appear to the stonewall the process.  The Republicans have been successfully portrayed by the opposition as the “Party of ‘No.’”  That image needs to be disassembled methodically and meticulously.

It may involve some compromise, and the reforms that are put in place may not be perfect by Republican standards.  However, if we don’t put forward this area as one in which we can grow and one in which we can take some leadership, there will be pressure from others to “compromise” on other issues, and these will be ones that will violate our Catholic consciences.

19 Responses to Where We Go From Here: Republicans and a Changing Demographic

  • I think if the Democrats want to take the nation over a fiscal cliff the Republicans should not stand in their way. The Senate Democrats haven’t even proposed a budget in four years. Now they want Republicans to share in the onus of raising taxes which would do precisely nothing in addressing our fiscal catastrophe: no sale.

    Promises from Obama aren’t worth the hot air he uses to make them. Any agreement for amnesty on immigration would end up involving only amnesty and no border enforcement. That is a non-starter with the Republican base. From a social justice standpoint I really wonder about the morality of doing anything that would inevitably lead to more illegal immigration at a time when 23 million Americans can’t find work.

    Additionally I think it is interesting that Romney won a majority of the independent voters in almost all of the swing states, and Obama did worse with the independent voters in all the swing states, except for North Carolina, than he did in 2008.

    http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2012/11/14/infographic-of-the-day-obama-lost-independent-voters-in-all-swing-states-minus-nc/

    The Republicans lost because they failed to inspire and turn out their base, not because of any vast demographic shifts or because Obama and his agenda are overwhelmingly popular. All during the primaries the Republican base kept sending signal after signal that they did not want Romney. Most of the base turned out ultimately, but not the maximum effort we needed to win this. The Republicans need to fight for their principles and let Obama and the Democrats take full responsibility for the shipwreck that the majority of voters asked for when they voted to give Obama four more years.

  • Penguins Fan says:

    Nobody chews up and spits out their own like the Republicans. I was not wild about Mitt Romney when he was running in the primaries, but who was the Great Conservative? And where was he or she?

    If the Republican base was no sufficiently motivated to throw Obama out, then they deserve what they get. I know the Paulistas see no difference between Romney and Obumbler, which to me is ridiculous.

    The House GOP should not worry one bit what the press says or thinks of them. Limbaugh told them that in 1995, but they didn’t want to heed his advice.

    Try visiting another conservative message board or blog and throw out some ideas – Jindal, Kasich, etc. Invariably someone pops off trashing the suggestion.

    The late Samuel Francis labeled the Republicans the Stupid Party and he was right. They aggravate me nearly as much as the USCCB.

  • Ioannes says:

    * It’s not a “free pass” if they have to pay a fine. This is ok for the majority of many of them as they already spend a lot of unnecesary money trying to stay in the country by shadowy means.

    * Democrats will do a reform one way or another and get eternal credit. Republicans can’t afford this.

    * The base that didn’t vote will never add up to make up the the necessary votes. Demographics are simply not what they used to be.

    * The (incorrect) immigrant mindset is: It is my duty to give them conservative values at home, but I can’t vote for a guy who “doesn’t care about immigrants”.

    * THEREFORE, AND THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT AND SOMETHING MANY DONT REALIZE, THEY GET THE DEMOCRAT VOTING GUIDE CHEAT SHEET JUST BECAUSE THAT IS THE CORRESPONDING PARTY AND VOTE DOWN THE LINE WITHOUT EVEN REALIZING WHAT THEY ARE VOTING FOR. WE CAN NOT AFFORD THIS.

    * The way around this is to nominate a Hispanic for 2016 that can refute that directly. I think Susana Martinez is the best one that can lead a republican landslide with the Hispanic vote.

    * Many immigrants are hired by other immigrants. They produce their own economy.

    *It doesn’t seem to add up economically but The Lord miraculously provides when we follow his just teaching. One shouldnt fall into the same economical trap of those that think that abortion is the answer for poor people because they don’t realize that if they choose to please The Lord, he will provide.

    * There is no other choice but to take immigration by the horns. As I’ve said, Blessedly it is something that would please The Lord.

  • T. Shaw says:

    It’s not lack of charity (anyhow, they do it with money I earned and they took). It’s not racism. It’s not absence of regard for social justice. It’s not politics.

    It’s arithmetic.

    The Federal entitlement leviathan and states’ fiscal bankruptcies will collapse of their own unfunded, unpayable debt and pension obligations.

    There is nothing new under the Sun. History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes. (Twain)

    Bread and circuses: Bring on 20,000,000 more voters that believe its the government’s duty to provide for them.

    Where do we go from here?

    I’m going to the Canadian Consulate on Sixth Avenue to begin the immigration process.

  • Dave W says:

    Long term strategies: the party may well be able to swing the needle back via a heartfelt immigraton policy. But don’t expect the latino/latina voters to trust the move on paper …. GOP will need to stay the course and prove their intentions. On the flip side, I would hope that culture can better represent itself on the anti-abortion cause. All that may take till 2020.

  • Micha Elyi says:

    I know the Paulistas see no difference between Romney and Obumbler, which to me is ridiculous.
    Penguins Fan

    And that’s why “the Paulistas” aren’t part of the Republican base.

    I am not convinced that the Obama Administration, the Democrats in Congress, or the Mainstream Media will honor any deal to give good credit to the GOP on any issue, much less immigration.
    DJ Hesselius

    I am also not convinced.

    Democrats will do a reform one way or another and get eternal credit. Republicans can’t afford this.
    Ioannes

    How things work:

    Republicans of the Establishment sort attempt comprehensive immigration reforms and get shot down by middle and lower class. Establishment Media blames Republican Party.

    Democrats offer obstruction, blame, slogans and feel-good programs that cost much, encourage further illegal immigration and do little to solve the broad immigration problem (e.g. “DREAM Act”).

    What I prescribe:

    Republicans should cool their own ardor for comprehensive immigration reform while demanding that Democrats put forth a bill. Then take pot shots at it, point out that it hurts low-income people already in America - especially other Hispanics and blacks - and ask again and again why Democrats want to hurt America’s poor, jobless and unskilled laborers. If Democrats see the trap and try to avoid it by not proposing a bill, accuse them of all the bad stuff anyway.

  • Micha Elyi says:

    I know the Paulistas see no difference between Romney and Obumbler, which to me is ridiculous.
    Penguins Fan

    And that’s why “the Paulistas” aren’t part of the Republican base.

    I am not convinced that the Obama Administration, the Democrats in Congress, or the Mainstream Media will honor any deal to give good credit to the GOP on any issue, much less immigration.
    DJ Hesselius

    I am also not convinced.

    Democrats will do a reform one way or another and get eternal credit. Republicans can’t afford this.
    Ioannes

    How things work:

    Republicans of the Establishment sort attempt comprehensive immigration reforms and get shot down by middle and lower class. Establishment Media blames Republican Party.

    Democrats offer obstruction, blame, slogans and feel-good programs that cost much, encourage further illegal immigration and do little to solve the broad immigration problem (e.g. “DREAM Act”).

    What I prescribe:

    Republicans should cool their own ardor for comprehensive immigration reform while demanding that Democrats put forth a bill. Then take pot shots at it, point out that it hurts low-income people already in America - especially other Hispanics and blacks - and ask again and again why Democrats want to hurt America’s poor, jobless and unskilled laborers. If Democrats see the trap and try to avoid it by not proposing a bill, accuse them of all the bad stuff anyway.

  • Pinky says:

    Republicans always do badly with recent immigrants. A few generations of assimilation and they usually become middle-class and blend in. Are there any reasons to believe it won’t be the same for Hispanics? Two reasons that I can think of. First, the financial pressure to succeed is less than it was for my grandparents’ generation. That is to say, even the extremely poor in the US can find food, shelter, and clothing. Second, the idea of assimilation itself is increasingly frowned upon. There always were communities of immigrants that were insulated from the culture, but now that kind of insulation is looked upon as a virtue.

    Anyway, Republicans should be able to do fine if they avoid pandering. I’m not saying that immigration reform is necessarily pandering; I’m just saying that the past week’s panic about demographics is probably unfounded.

  • T. Shaw says:

    I dunno.

    Instapundit links to Kos. It seems in nine races libertarians gave the Dems the margins to win. That would be two US senators; one governor (MT), and six Congress critters, including Mia Love.

    As I often said, liberterriers are equally as bad as liberals.

    The US is fairly screwed. Thank you, libertarians.

  • Dave W says:

    Interesting point Pinky. Thanks. Guess we should say the same for the “millenials” gen as well. Reminds me of my father’ (rest in peace) comments to my then liberal uncle …. “you won’t become a conservative, until you find something worth conserving…”

  • Taylor says:

    I’d fault Catholics first, US. Yes, we did much better but speaking of Immigration, the Mexicans voted horribly again and largely are a Democrat Constituency. Some protestant announcers fault themselves as well. So who knows?? I know the Democrat Party is unpalatable to me in what they stand for. Thank goodness, there are 30 Republican Governors and Republicans control yes, the House, Senate and Governorship in 30 states.

  • Taylor says:

    Hispanics will not assimilate as long as they keep their own language, this is not what Italians, etc. did. Also, a chunk of them are in California, once Republican voting and now not so. 33% of California is on welfare.

  • Stilbelieve says:

    There is nothing wrong with Republicans and their party. The only reason Obama was elected originally and now again is because Catholics are Democrats first and Catholics second. 42% of weekly Mass attending Catholics voted for Obama this time! 42%!!! 50 percent of all Catholics voted for Obama, with 70% of Hispanic Catholics.
    The problem isn’t with the Republican Party; the problem is with the Catholic Church pure and simple. Why would 42% of weekly Mass attending Catholics (including the clergy) profess to believe God is the “giver of life,” and pray for His “will be done on earth” and “to deliver us from evil” vote for a man and a party that is diabolically opposed to what those Catholics profess to believe and pray for every Sunday? Do those Catholics think God creates life to be aborted? Is not abortion evil? Answer those questions and you will have your answer why Romney/Ryan didn’t win. Catholic Democrats are hypocrites. They think they are soooo much better than the Republicans. Can you believe that? They really do. Yet, Protestant Evangelicals gave Romney/Ryan 79 percent of their vote; up 6% from what they gave McCain. I think we will see a lot more of those Evangelicals in Heaven than we will Catholic Democrats. That means a lot of priest and bishops will have a lot of explaining to do, as well.

  • Taylor says:

    I’ve got to say and ranted about this elsewhere last week, Romney/Ryan pledged to defund Planned Parenthood which is a favorite cause of the Democrat Party. Governor Walker defunded Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin, it’s been defunded elsewhere, in Illinois it has NOT been defunded and Tonya Reaves died at a planned parenthood in the last 3 months. I think the Pro-Life movement has been close to defunding planned parenthood nationally which is pretty good considering especially with people more concerned about the economy. Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion provider SO, I think in a very real way, those who “let Romney down” and voted for Obama, in fact play a part in the evil of abortion in our country.

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