Republicans need to change or fade into history
Since the 1990s, the white vote has decreased, and it’s a trend that is not stopping.
A Nov. 7 report by Paul Taylor and D’Vera Cohn of pewsocialtrends.org predicts that by 2050, the non-Hispanic white vote will be in the minority — dropping from 63 percent of the electorate in 2011 to 47 percent. The Republican Party has to realize that in order to remain viable, it must become accessible to a range of voters — not just their primarily white base.
During the 2012 elections, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had to take a hard right stance on immigration, which drove many Hispanics to overwhelmingly vote for President Barack Obama.
The egregious comments about rape made by former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin and Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock pushed women to vote for Obama in overwhelming numbers.
Even with a Democratic win in the White House, Republicans retained their majority in the House of Representatives. The districts Republicans represent have become solidly red because of to gerrymandering, according to a Jan. 17 article by Sahil Kapur of talkingpointsmemo.com. Talking Points Media obtained a telling memo from the Republican State Leadership Committee.
“Controlling the redistricting process in these states would have the greatest impact on determining how both state legislative and congressional district boundaries would be drawn,” according to the memo. “Drawing new district lines in states with the most redistricting activity presented the opportunity to solidify conservative policymaking at the state level and maintain a Republican stronghold in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next decade.”
UH political science professor Richard Murray finds the process to controlling the redistricting process starts before the elections.
“Since primaries attract far fewer voters than the general election, and those who show up are more strongly partisan, this shift leads to a more polarization in Congress and state legislatures,” Murray said. “Competitive districts don’t result in great differences between candidates, but they do ensure that the voters can more easily change policy by voting people in or out of office.”
In a rush to retain and consolidate Republican power in state legislatures, the party didn’t take into consideration the effects of a completely Republican district. Those districts would elect primary candidates to the far right — alienating the rest of the population in the process. This is no way to reach voters and connect with those voters who might be undecided. The Republican Party is so concentrated on being “safe” that they’ve forgotten how to stay competitive.
“I’ve tried to see something in the Republican Party I like, but what always ends up dissuading me is their hateful, intolerant, sometimes subliminal tone to anyone who doesn’t align to their ideologies,” saidJuan Trujillo, an industrial engineering junior. “The message they’re trying to put out is that they are an inclusive party, but I can’t see that when there’s Republican pundits and politicians making derogatory and insensitive comments.”
On Nov. 8, the day after the general election, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer was quick to point the reason Romney lost to Obama.
“A rump party of white America, it must adapt to evolving demographics or forever be the minority,” Krauthammer said. “The only part of this that is even partially true regards Hispanics.”
“They should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family oriented and socially conservative (on abortion, for example). The principal reason they go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants. In securing the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney made the strategic error of (unnecessarily) going to the right of Rick Perry. Romney could never successfully tack back,” he said.
When asked what the party should do to reach out, Trujillo minced no word.
“They need to get rid of their intolerant rhetoric — condemn members of their party who constantly blast out hateful comments and catch up with the times,” Trujillo said.
This message might end up falling on deaf ears.
On Tuesday, Julián Aguilar of The Texas Tribune said Republican Greg Abbot, the Texas attorney general, filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court siding with the plaintiffs challenging the government and assuring Texas will play a supporting role in Shelby County v. Holder. The justices will hear and decide whether to uphold or strike down Section Five of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which requires any laws that deal with the voting procedure in states with a history of discrimination to get clearance from the Department of Justice.
According to a Jun. 27 article by Gene Demby of The Huffington Post, one of the planks in the 2012 platform of the Republican Party of Texas was to urge the Supreme Court to strike down the Voting Rights Act provision. This is the opposite of inclusive. They should want to strengthen the provision not overturn it.
“As an expert who testified for the plaintiffs in the Texas redistricting cases in 2011 and 2012, as well as in the previous election cycles back to 1971, I obviously value the Voting Rights Act. I strongly believe it is very much needed today as it was in 1965 when originally enacted,” Murray said.
Texas also passed a voter ID law that discriminates against minorities, the poor and young voters. It was defeated by the District Court of Columbia, andEric Holder, the U.S. attorney general, said it amounted to a “poll tax.” It might as well be a poll tax, because it disenfranchises the poor and the elderly.
In Texas, the Hispanic population hasn’t transformed the political landscape, but it’s only a matter of time before it does. The Republicans seem to want to stay ahead of the game by cheating.
They want to make it difficult for minority voters to cast their votes. Instead of pushing people away, the Republican Party should be drawing people in in order to stay alive and viable.
After the 2012 election, one thing was sure: American demographics have changed, and the political landscape has to adapt. Here’s a message to the Republican Party: change or fade into history.
Alex Caballero is a creative writing senior and may be reached at [email protected]