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No Easy Path Forward for Republicans

No Easy Path Forward for Republicans
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Tuesday’s elections were a disaster for the Republican Party. From President Barack Obama’s re-election to the loss of seats in the House and Senate, Republicans were chastened by an electorate that seemed to them to be changing overnight. Even their brightest ray of hope — their ability to hang onto control of the House — was tempered by the fact that more voters nationwide backed Democrats than Republicans for those seats. If not for Republican gerrymandering after 2010, the GOP would have lost that as well.

The GOP’s losses have been blamed on everything from changing demographics to the incompetence of the Romney campaign to Hurricane Sandy. All of those played their part, but they are not the only reason that Republicans find themselves losing ground nationally. Now, Republicans find themselves in the difficult position of trying to find a way to attract new voters without sparking a revolt from a base that has been told for four years that any compromise is akin to treason.

Demographic Shift Unraveling Nixon Coalition

The current Republican Party has its genesis in the aftermath of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Civil Rights Act was passed primarily by a coalition of Northern Democrats and New England Republicans, and signed into law by a Democratic President, Lyndon Johnson. The South had been discontented with Democrats since the 1948 convention, and the end of segregation cracked the Solid South wide open. For the first time since before the Civil War, white Southerners were fully in play.

In 1964, Barry Goldwater, running in support of states’ rights, won only Arizona and 5 states in the Deep South, but that victory was an awakening for the GOP. In 1968, former Vice President Richard Nixon reached out to disaffected Southerners, building on Goldwater’s campaign. Nixon lost the Deep South to George Wallace, but victories in North and South Carolina and Tennessee  were enough to put Nixon past 270 electoral votes. In 1972, Nixon would sweep the South, and while Jimmy Carter won it back in 1976, the South moved permanently into the Republican column in 1980.

The Southern Strategy brought white, working-class, and — frankly — racist Democrats into the Republican fold. The strategy paid dividends outside the South; it was used as a way to reach out to socially conservative voters who might have voted for Democrats on economics alone. When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, he said it would cost Democrats the South for a generation. He was wrong. It cost them for two generations.

The voting public is not static, though. The white voters who were attracted to the Republican Party have gotten older, while younger voters were born into a nation that was, at least officially, trying not to be racist. People of color grew steadily as a percentage of the population, and younger voters grew up without the racist baggage of Jim Crow.

For a long time, this didn’t really matter for the Republican Party. There were enough socially conservative white voters to win. Republicans worked hard to keep this group in the fold, opposing social insurance programs as hand-outs to minorities, embracing implacable opposition to gay rights and reproductive rights and allowing the nativist wing of the party to dictate a draconian approach to immigration. The strategy worked — until it didn’t.

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258 comments

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5:28PM PST on Nov 26, 2012

Thank you for article.

5:28PM PST on Nov 26, 2012

Thank you for article.

11:42AM PST on Nov 16, 2012

Republicans do well with those who have a hard time with change, those who have trouble recieving new information, drawing new conclusions and changing their minds. Sometimes it seems they're regressing into the Dark Ages.

You notice the demographics at Romney's rallies don't reflect the demographics of the American people. Obama's rallies reflected the real America with people from all demographics.

Republicans seem to be living in a bubble, Reagan did-away with the "Fairness Doctrine" which mandated that broadcasters present contraversal issues of public importance in a honest, balanced, and fair manner. How can that be good for Americans to recieve only one point of view - like the republican-leaning Fox News. I think this is a great dis-service to Americans and allows broadcasters to control what information viewers/listeners recieve. Instead of presenting the facts, opions from all different points of view and allowing people to make up their own minds, they are controlling information and making up the minds of others for them. I find that frightening - it's not even news anymore, it's propaganda.

Anyway, I'm glad Obama won. I wish the republicans would either go the way of the WHIG party, or catch up with this changing world.

6:18AM PST on Nov 16, 2012

(continued)

It does, however, fit very well. As the last fragments of the Romney/Ryan campaign flutter to the ground, one last confirmation: Paul Ryan is above your petty party rules, and when Paul Ryan is involved with something, the math is whatever Paul Ryan wants it to be.


(It's always the same result, over and over again - when you put it in R, it just goes backward...)

6:06AM PST on Nov 16, 2012

(continued)

Even though vice presidential Mini-Mitt Paul Ryan was reelected to congress, this was to have been the last year of his highly prized House Budget Committee chairmanship. That's because the Republicans have an ostensible rule that term limits committee chairmen and/or ranking members to six years in those plum positions, partly because Republicans really like term limits and partly to give other members a chance to rake in some of the sweet, sweet campaign money that comes from being in those positions of maximal power. Whatever is the case, I can't think of a better way to welcome official "GOP intellectual" Paul Ryan back into the congressional fold than for the GOP to ignore simple rules of math for his benefit:

Speaker John Boehner is declaring that nobody but Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., fresh off his unsuccessful vice presidential bid, will be granted a waiver from internal GOP term-limit rules requiring several members to give up their chairmanships next year.

“He told me he wants to limit it to Ryan,” said Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., of such a waiver, on Thursday

Well, there's some good news: Republican Math Guy will be the only recipient of the magical "rules are for everyone else" waiver, and Peter King specifically won't be getting one. (I have to believe that King isn't especially well-liked even in the GOP, because, well, c'mon. Have you heard him?)

It does, however, fit

6:04AM PST on Nov 16, 2012

Thanks, Lynn C.!

And thanks to Leonard T. for posting this URL: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/13/1161225/-Jimmy-Carter-s-grandson-strikes-again

Very interesting indeed!

Michael M., if I could give you all the Green Stars you deserved, you'd probably smother, so just as well I can't...


It sounds as though the Republicans are incapable of moving forward, and I suspect that they may be thinking of running Lyin' Ryan again, next Presidential election, so be warned...

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/15/1162093/-Despite-GOP-term-limits-Republicans-allow-Paul-Ryan-to-continue-as-head-of-Budget-Committee

hu Nov 15, 2012 at 06:15 PM PST
Despite GOP term limits, Republicans allow Paul Ryan to continue as head of Budget Committee

by Hunter for Daily Kos

Even though vice presidential Mini-Mitt Paul Ryan was reelected to congress, this was to have been the last year of his highly prized House Budget Committee chairmanship. That's because the Republicans have an ostensible rule that term limits committee chairmen and/or ranking members to six years in those plum positions, partly because Republicans really like term limits and partly to give other members a chance to rake in some of the sweet, sweet campaign money that comes from being in those positions of maximal power. Whatever is the case, I can't think of a better way to welcome official "GOP intellectual" Paul Ryan back into the congressional fold than for the GOP to ignore simple rules of

4:07AM PST on Nov 15, 2012

The republican party will be just fine, just like the democrat party would have if Romney had won.

9:29PM PST on Nov 14, 2012

Really enjoyed Michael M. and Dorothy N.'s discussion, among other comments. Thank you all.

9:23PM PST on Nov 13, 2012

@Jim L

More background and straight from the horse's ass himself, Lee Atwater. To put him in context, he was part of a troika of GOP dirty tricks specialists, contemporary of Donald Segretti and Roger Ailes. Karl Rove is a Segretti protege. Atwater was partially redeemed when on his death bed he apologized for all the dirty stuff he pulled on behalf of the GOP, and he had a great deal to answer for as you can hear in this clip.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/13/1161225/-Jimmy-Carter-s-grandson-strikes-again

4:48PM PST on Nov 13, 2012

Thanks. Jacob R......there's not much of what your wrote that's correct. It turns out President Obama DID win the election (it's this thing called Math, which those on the right seem to have great difficulty understanding), he got 51% of the vote (that's called a mandate, which is what happens when you win MOST of something (again, Math..over 50% necessarily means most), and he did something only 3 others (Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan) have done....win over 50% of the popular vote in 2 successive elections. Not only did he win, not only does he have a mandate, but the win was truly historic.

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