Published on October 12th, 20131
Can the GOP Survive as a Predominantly White Party?
“The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself. We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.”
The GOP Growth and Opportunity Report
Results from the Republican Party’s own “Growth and Opportunity Project” made the situation explicitly clear – the GOP desperately needs to diversify beyond an aging white Southern and rural base. College Republicans issued an even more pointed assessment. Our policies make the party seem “closed-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned.”
The percentage of voters who identify as Republicans has reached a historic low. Every analysis of voting trends indicates that the party must reach out across ethnic and racial lines to find new voters and expand our appeal in new geographies. So what have we done?
Standing on the weakest, narrowest base in the party’s modern history we have shut down the government and threatened to trigger a default on the national debt. Under the influence of a new generation of Dixiecrats, we are resisting calls for reform and embracing an uncompromising Neo-Confederate policy agenda. As the government shuts down and the debt ceiling deadline looms, it is clear that the results of our post-election have been evaluated and the base has decided how they will respond.
If the current, narrowed core of the party gets their way, we will find out whether the GOP can survive as a white nationalist party.
Early this year when the intelligent, well-considered assessments of the 2012 results began to pour in, the reaction from the party’s extremes began to build. When Marco Rubio tried to pivot away from his Tea Party base to lead the party’s Hispanic outreach he got a cold awakening. Rubio’s pitch, “It’s really hard to get people to listen to you on economic growth, on tax rates, on healthcare if they think you want to deport their grandmother,” makes perfect sense, but logic and reason are not what drives the GOP base.
A few months later Rubio is old news. The policy approach the party has chosen was best summarized by Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee when he was confronted by an 11-year girl courageously expressing concerns about her undocumented father’s deportation. The crowd of good Americans cheered while DesJarlais told the little girl, in the kindest way possible, to &*^%-off.
Religious Right legend Phyllis Schlafly described the grassroots logic on the question of minority outreach in typically crude terms. She explained that Republicans have to harden their appeal to white voters because Hispanics lack “experience or knowledge of the whole idea of limited government.” She then explained that immigration will lead to border states becoming part of Mexico. Any softening of immigration policy would be “suicide for our country.”
According to Schlafly, the future of the Republican Party is Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Mike Lee. Unfortunately for the GOP and the country, it looks like she’s right.
Immigration reform is dead, replaced at the national level by a strategy of obstruction and hostage-taking with no policy goals beyond stalemate. Republicans have for the most part decided to ditch the concept of working with “those people” and embrace a white nationalist strategy for future elections.
This white fortress strategy has been outlined by Pat Buchanan, Rush Limbaugh, and Byron York in particular. The premise is that white voters still make up a national majority. Win them, and you win elections. Toward that end, the party should halt legalization, strictly limit immigration, and intensify a racial appeal based on anti-immigrant paranoia.
Math says this will fail, but every good Fox News viewer knows that math is just a trick liberals use to confuse good people. There simply aren’t enough white voters who are inspired by racial appeals. Romney won the largest share of the white vote in thirty years. Yet, even if he had tied the modern record, Reagan’s 63% in 1984, he would still have lost.
White nationalism is not that popular outside the core red states. Trending farther in that direction will probably decrease, rather than increase the Republican share of the white vote, especially as young people who are even more hostile to this message come of age. The white nationalist approach is not just cynical and evil. At the national level it will consistently fail.
So why are Republicans drifting toward this suicidal strategy? Republicans are embracing this approach because it is winning at the regional level. The party’s appeal may be shrinking nationally, but all politics is ultimately local. White nationalist politics is particularly potent in Southern and rural states. In the South and the rural west the GOP’s new white nationalist message has dovetailed with a resurgent Neo-Confederate wave that is only gaining momentum.
This new vision of Republican politics, so starkly at odds with the party’s 150 years of Hamiltonian capitalism, has given refugee Dixiecrats a new home and a powerful political dominance. Republicans are poised to extend their power almost everywhere in the South and the rural West. Neo-Confederate politics will strangle Republicans in their remaining classic strongholds in Northern and Western suburbs, but it will intensify Republican control in states already red.
In short, the Republican Party can survive and thrive under a slightly modified Confederate banner, just not at the national level and not for very long.
This regional success will either end slowly as a younger cohort of voters comes of age, or very suddenly, when Hispanics start voting their numbers. Until then, white nationalism is a fine way for certain local and regional politicians to hold their jobs.
Though this strategy may succeed regionally, it has dangerous implications for the country. Thanks to the Tea Party, a new generation of Republican Dixiecrats is taking on the role of the old Democratic Dixiecrats in blocking almost anything Congress might want to do. This strategy would make John C. Calhoun proud, allowing Republicans to weaken a Federal government they no longer hope to control while strengthening their hold on a shrinking regional and demographic base.
A white nationalist agenda is hostile to the nation’s interests, but that won’t stop Ted Cruz from winning elections. Until Republicans sober up or demographics does its work, the White Men’s Party of Jesus Christ will deadlock national government and block efforts to address serious issues affecting the future of the country.
About the Author: Chris Ladd is a Texan who is now living in the Chicago area. He is the founder of Building a Better GOP and has served for several years as a Republican Precinct Committeeman in DuPage County, IL, and was active in state and local Republican campaigns in Texas for many years. (Email: chrladd AT gmail DOT com)