Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Conservatives Undermine the Future of the GOP

Typical GOP Voter

For a long time now I have said that the Christofascist/Tea Party base of the GOP would be the death of the party - much as the Christofascists are steadily killing the Christian brand.  In a column in the Washington Post, Michael Gerson, a conservative columnist, reaches a conclusion much like my own and looks at the likelihood of the far right damaging the GOP further in the lead up to the 2016 presidential elections.  Here are some column excerpts:

According to the talk radio right, Cantor lost for supporting “amnesty,” which he had actually rejected. But some of the best thinkers of the reform conservative movement — pushing Republicans toward a more populist, pro-family, pro-middle-class agenda — have posited a more sophisticated connection between immigration and Cantor’s loss. Part of his establishment baggage was, in New York Times columnist Ross Douthat’s words, his support for the “donor class’s consensus on immigration reform.”

Let me stipulate that reform conservatism is the best hope of a Republican Party struggling to attract middle-class voters. And that the GOP needs to distance itself from an (often deserved) reputation for crony capitalism. But insofar as conservatives identify crony capitalism with comprehensive immigration reform, they undermine the future of the party they seek to help. 

Some conservatives are trying to make common cause with tea party populism, which may be open to pro-middle-class reforms, but certainly not on immigration. The future, in this view, lies with Republicans such as Sen. Mike Lee — skeptical on immigration reform, supportive of middle-class populism — rather than immigration softies such as Jeb Bush. 

Almost all the internal preoccupations of the Republican Party — in primary battles, intra-movement arguments, conservative media tropes — have nothing to do with the party’s main external challenges: appealing to young people, to the middle class, to the working class and to rising demographic groups. Even the few who admit this problem seem to disagree about priority and consistency of such appeals.

Even if immigration reform is not everyone’s top priority in the polls, embracing it would be a signal that Republicans recognize, accept, even welcome that the face of America is changing. 

Currently, that face often registers disdain. Mitt Romney won 59 percent of the white vote in the process of losing the 2012 election by four points. By one estimate, if Democrats secure 80 percent of minority votes in the next presidential election (a realistic goal), they will need only 37 percent of the white vote to extend their White House winning streak. Those who think that ethnic outreach is a secondary concern for Republicans are proposing to win the presidency on a map without Florida.

The GOP requires a candidate who can get through a nomination process that includes Iowa and South Carolina, then secure increased support from white middle-class voters in Ohio and Hispanic voters in Florida. The ideal nominee, therefore, would have tea party populist roots, middle-class sensibilities, a policy interest in social mobility and a conspicuously welcoming approach to immigration. 

Not an easy profile to find in any circumstances. Impossible when ruled out beforehand.
Given the strangle hold of insane elements of the GOP on the nomination process, I candidly do not see how the GOP will be able to mount a candidate that can be attractive to anyone other than those within the shrinking demographic of angry, straight white voters. 

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