While obscenely gerrymandered districts protects Republicans in the House of Representatives from serious challenge at least until after 2020, in statewide U.S. Senate races and, most importantly, in national presidential elections, the GOP's increasingly out of step policies are making Republican victories more difficult to come by even in purple states. Simply put, aging angry whites and far right religious extremists are dying off and being replaced by a more ethnically diverse voter base than holds fundamentalist religion in lower regard, if not open contempt. A column in the Washington Post by conservative Michael Gerson looks at the challenge facing the GOP for 2016. Here are highlights:
It is the most important development so far in the 2016 presidential race, at least on the Republican side: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is evidently not a total meathead. . . . nine months of federal investigation into e-mails and text messages have produced nothing implicating Christie [in Bridge Gate].
[T]he attacks of Democrats and MSNBC commentators can now be worn as a badge of honor in the Republican primaries. While relatively moderate, Christie could appeal to conservatives who want to see a fight, which his opponents have helpfully provided.
Christie’s apparent victory in the juridical primary clarifies the Republican contest without doing anything to resolve it. According to GOP money types I’ve surveyed, many large donors are currently frozen in the choice between Christie and Jeb Bush, who are considered the most serious competitors to Hillary Clinton. Contributors are unlikely to jump to one until the intentions of both are clear.
Talk of another Mitt Romney run is idle. . . . Romney’s choice as the Republican nominee in 2012 will be remembered as an act of political self-harm. How could Republicans, as the effects of massive financial panic still lingered, have chosen a specialist in leveraged buyouts as their nominee? Romney managed to depress the enthusiasm of white working- and middle-class voters in key states while also actively alienating Hispanic and Asian voters . . . .
The next GOP presidential nominee cannot be the richest and whitest person in the room, prone to Reagan-era rhetoric about tax rates and regulatory burdens. While I oppose literacy tests for voting, I would support a requirement that Republican primary voters read the Republican National Committee’s 100-page “Growth and Opportunity Project” report issued in 2013, also known as the Republican autopsy. The short version: Republicans have a class problem . . . They also have a demographic problem, which requires Republicans to make a major shift in policy and attitude toward new Americans. “If we do not,” declares the autopsy, “our party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.”
An establishment candidate who reinforces the perception of an elitist, out-of-touch, ethnically homogeneous party is not the answer. Neither is a candidate of conservative purification who has little appeal beyond core constituencies.
Predicting anything about the eventual shape of this race is premature. But this much is clear: The task of the next Republican nominee is not only to motivate his or her party but also to transform its appeal.
Given the Christofascist/Tea Party take over of the GOP grass roots and their disproportionate power in the primary process, any such transformation will likely prove impossible.