News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The GOP's demographic death spiral

There was a time in living memory when the Republican party in the U.S. included moderates and even a sprinkling of liberals. (New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller and Ohio Congressman Chuck Whalen come to mind.) Those days have long since passed. Today, the GOP is a party drawing an ever-shrinking circle of political orthodoxy. In a party where "moderate" has become an insult, the belligerent rejection of dissenting ideas has stripped the GOP of its more temperate elements. What remains is a core of right-wing hardliners whose views are often seen as intolerant and hostile by Blacks and Latinos. And as a party perceived to be serving the interests of a diminishing Non-Hispanic White polity, the Republican party is in a demographic death spiral.

The extremist trend in the GOP was clearly in evidence at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Committee held in Washington D. C. this week. Over the last few years, the CPAC has gone from a liberal-and-big-government bash fest by mainstream conservatives to a forum that legitimizes groups considered part of the far-right fringe not too long ago. In this year’s CPAC there is a seat at the table for birther advocate Joseph Farah of and Peter Brimelow, the head of the white nationalist website A look at past postings on WorldNetDaily and VDARE make it clear both websites are forums for antisemitism, xenophobia and racism.

As a nation where Non-Hispanic Whites will soon be a minority, the desperation of a party that is seen as its standard bearer is palpable. Unfortunately, rather than reaching out, the Republicans are lashing out.

Newt Gingrich’s comments about our “food stamp” president and suggestion that Blacks look for jobs instead of welfare brought a GOP crowd to its feet in thunderous applause. This thinly-veiled race baiting leaves little  doubt the party of Lincoln wrote off the Black vote long ago. GOP presidential candidates are now vying for who can blow loudest on the racist dog whistle to curry favor with "the base."

Meanwhile, the US English movement, which the Republican party heartily embraces, is seen by a majority of Latinos as an attack on their culture -- including many Cuban-Americans who usually support the GOP. Republicans also lose Hispanic voters in their vehement support for state laws like Arizona's SB 1070 which appear to give the green light to racial profiling in the pursuit of the undocumented. Eager to shore up his conservative credentials, Mitt Romney has made it crystal clear he would veto the DREAM Act as president, a measure supported by over 70% of Latinos.

By pandering to "the base," GOP politicians are marginalizing their party as an ethnic special interest group. Meanwhile, like a lake that is drying up, the Republican party is exposing the fetid extremist organisms that once existed under a spring of more mainstream perspectives. The stench is hard to ignore.
Raul Ramos y Sanchez