Will demographic changes make the GOP extinct?

Ed Ross Contributor
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Democrats are in for a historic defeat in November. Republicans may recapture both the House and Senate. Barack Obama may even lose the 2012 election. But before Republicans, conservatives, and Tea Party supporters draw too much encouragement from these prospects they should read “Demographic Change and the Future of the Parties” by Ruy Teixeira. The paper, put out by the Center for American Progress, the progressive think tank funded by George Soros and run by John Podesta, lays out Democrat’s current and future strategy, and it contains some sobering facts for Republicans.

The opening paragraph of the introduction and summary lays it out clearly:

The tectonic plates of American politics are shifting. A powerful concatenation of demographic forces is transforming the American electorate and reshaping both major political parties. And, as demographic trends continue, this transformation and reshaping will deepen. The Democratic Party will become even more dominated by the emerging constituencies that gave Barack Obama his historic 2008 victory, while the Republican Party will be forced to move toward the center to compete for these constituencies. As a result, modern conservatism is likely to lose its dominant place in the GOP.

Before anyone rejects this paper as progressive propaganda, though it certainly contains some, they should take an objective look at the statistics Teixeira uses to support his argument. Kevin Drum, in his blog post Demography is Destiny, summarizes them well. “Minorities have increased their share of the vote by 11 percentage points since 1988 and have become even more strongly pro-Democratic than they were eight years ago. Ditto for white college graduates, professionals, women, and the religiously unaffiliated (the fastest growing ‘religious’ group in the country, he reports).”

Teixeira forecasts:  “The United States will be a majority-minority nation by 2042. By 2050, the country will be 54 percent minority as Latinos double from 15 percent to 30 percent of the population, Asian Americans increase from 5 percent to 9 percent, and African Americans move from 14 to 15 percent.”

In other words, Democrat dominance is as inevitable as climate change.

That’s not to suggest Teixeira’s statistics and projections aren’t based on facts or that they don’t accurately reflect long-term trends, if intervening factors don’t alter them. I only suggest that the results of these trends are not inevitable. Everyone agrees that climate changes, not that it’s necessarily an existential threat.

Take, for example, Teixeira’s conclusions about the GOP. This is where progressive propaganda intrudes. He argues that Republicans, “the party of no,” must abandon “antigovernment populism,” “culture war nostrums” and “antitax jeremiads.” He acknowledges “That strategy might help the party make significant gains in 2010, but it will not be enough to restore it to a majority status.” Taking his cue from the progressive catechism he states: “For that, a conservatism must be built that is not allergic to government spending when needed and even to taxes when there is no responsible alternative. The party must paradoxically find a way to combine its standard antigovernment populism with pro-government conservatism.”

As Drum points out, this isn’t the first time Teixeira has predicted long-term trends favorable for Democrats only to see short-term Republican gains. In 2002, John Judis and Teixeira wrote The Emerging Democratic Majority, which made the same arguments. “Unfortunately,” Drum points out, “2002 turned out not to be a great year to make a prediction like that: Republicans gained congressional seats in the midterm elections that year, and two years later George Bush won a second term in the White House in an election that saw Republicans make even further gains in Congress.”

We could see a similar phenomenon in the next two election cycles. Nevertheless, is it any wonder why Democrats favor a “comprehensive” solution (amnesty) on illegal immigration, drag their feet on border security, and seek to make more and more people dependent on government through health care reform and income redistribution?

So what, if anything, can Republicans do to alter these long term trends? Teixeira himself provides the beginnings of the answer. “Conversely, if the Democrats fail to produce—whether through ineffective programs, fiscal meltdown, or both—even an unreformed GOP will remain very competitive despite the many demographic changes that are disadvantaging the party. The next few years will tell the tale.”

Does any Republican, conservative, or Tea Party supporter doubt that programs like Obamacare and out of control, government-expanding deficit spending are inherently ineffective and are contributing to the meltdown of the US economy?

Still, it’s not enough to rely on Democrat’s overconfidence in their political philosophy and demographic trends. Republicans may indeed be doomed to minority status over the longer term unless they do something about it. But that doesn’t have to mean moving too far toward the center or becoming pro-government Republicans—there are plenty of those already.

There’s one statistic that Teixeira judiciously left out of his paper. The number of Americans who identify themselves as conservatives is growing. Forty-two percent now identify as conservatives while only 20 percent identify as liberals. Thirty-six percent identify as moderates. The 42 percent who identify as conservatives significantly exceeds those who identify as Republicans. Recent polls report that number to be as few as 20 percent.

What this latter statistic reveals, however, is not that the Republican Party is necessarily an endangered species, but that even conservatives have turned away from identifying with it because it has not lived up to it conservative values. The Tea Party movement may temporarily reinvigorate the Republican Party and help win big victories in 2010 and perhaps 2012, but the longer-term success for Republicans requires that they make inroads into the rapidly growing voting blocks Teixeira identifies as solidly in the Democrat camp.

Republicans must find ways to effectively communicate the conservative message to African Americans, Latinos, Asians and other predominantly Democrat groups. They must recruit conservative candidates from them. And they must make them believe that the Republican Party offers them, their children, and the country a better future. This will be no easy task as liberals have had decades to embed their message, misinformation, and ideology in academia, the media, and government.

Republicans can not allow themselves to become complacent should they regain power in 2010 or 2012. They must continuously fight and win the battle of ideas. Take time to read Demographic Change and the Future of the Parties and you’ll understand why.

Ed Ross is the President and Chief Executive Officer of EWRoss International LLC, a company that provides global consulting services to clients in the international defense marketplace. He publishes commentary at EWRoss.com.

Ed Ross