White, male and aging: the boilerplate constituent parts of the diminishing Republican electorate. The Republican Party now has to wake-up to modern America and become relevant to the nation of today and tomorrow. They must be a party for all – or at least a party for more. They need to add to their support from the many groups they have largely alienated and gifted to the Democrats: homosexuals, blacks, Latinos, women, young people – take your pick.
America has more than accepted a black President and the demographics show people of colour will further rise: they constituted 20% of the baby-boomer generation but 40% of the millennial generation. 50,000 American Latinos turn 18 every month. In 2016, the lion’s share of those 2.4m new voters will vote Democrat – unless the Grand Old Party reboots. Predominately catholic, Latinos are a potential draw for the Republican Party. Conservative on abortion and gay marriage but more progressive on issues of social justice, such as poverty and immigration, a fine line would need to be trod.
Women, particularly college-educated women, are a mainstay of Obama’s support and they are propelling other women – mainly Democrats – to the top of US politics. Hillary Clinton must be the current favourite for the Democratic presidential nomination for 2016 and others are on the rise. The newly elected Massachusetts Senator, Elizabeth Warren, was one of several women backed with gusto partly because of a problem emblematic of the Republican malaise. The GOP’s old guard has too-often displayed a lack of empathy on issues such as women’s rights and LBGT rights. Disparaging remarks concerning gay marriage – or in the case of Claire McCaskill’s Republican challenger, Todd Atkin, on the lack of need for abortion following rape – are offensive and politically costly. When you throw in the Democrats’ ability to engage and turnout youthful voters, it’s not a pretty picture for the Republican Party.
Republicans – including the Tea Party – will need to broaden their horizons, or become irrelevant. Should an unreformed Tea Party remain a driving force of the Republican Party, the GOP will be hamstrung.
History may view 2008 as a turning point for US politics. But while 2008 was a civil rights breakthrough and both the beginning and the peak of Obamania, 2012 will also be seen as a watershed moment – and not merely because Obama was the first President to be re-elected during a recession. It should become the moment the Republicans shunted leftward, to contest the middle ground – where they will meet the young, the female and the rising ‘minorities’. This diverse electorate deserves a genuine electoral choice.
Paul Letters, 8 November 2012
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