Political junkies of my generation should recall The Emerging Republican Majority, that provocative investigation of electoral patterns that journalist Kevin Phillips brought out in the wake of the Goldwater debacle of 1964. According to Phillips, the GOP could still re-emerge as a majority party, if it put together a coalition of disaffected blue collar ethnic Democrats, Sun Belt retirees, and Southern whites who were unhappy with the course of the civil rights movement. Although this strategy worked for a time, albeit mostly as electoral propaganda, it failed to take into account what were still imponderables in the mid-sixties: the effects of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a massive influx of Central Americans into the West and Southwest, the unbreakable Democratic loyalties of the Jewish and other elderly, and the leftward turn of white female voters under the impact of feminist ideology. Now Judis and Teixeira are offering their electoral prediction and arguing that the Democrats, really the left-wing of the Democratic Party, will achieve national dominance in the decades ahead. Although written with a transparent ideological goal, this work is as worthy of consideration as that of Phillips, to whom the authors make numerous respectful references.
Judis and Teixeira point to electoral trends that at least for the present are continuing. Unless dramatic reversals occur for unforeseen reasons, the overwhelming majority of blacks, non-Cuban Hispanics, and Jews will go on voting Democratic. Moreover, because of the leftward movement of educated women on social issues, even within Republican ranks, the soccer mom and the female professional concerned about her reproductive rights and a persistent “glass ceiling” will remain targets of electoral persuasion—identified with the Left. The authors present a stark contrast between the shrinking rural base of the Republicans and the urban-suburban bastions of the rising Democrats, full of minorities, liberated professional women, and “ideopolis” regions, bubbling with liberal intellectuality.
Much of this analysis makes sense, even if it is damaged by the use of double standards and gross exaggerations concerning the Republicans playing the race card. The authors have good reason to think that, barring unexpected crises, an electoral tide is moving in their direction. The questions to be posed are whether these trends are irreversible and whether Republican politicians and their advisors have not done something dumb to contribute to their present disadvantage. The answer to question one is “not necessarily” and to question two “big time.”
There is no necessary reason to assume that the current gender gap will stay the same or continue to increase. Although women, all things being equal, tend to be more emotional and more personal about politics than men, revealing behavioral differences that the Harvard psychologist Laurence Kohlberg spent decades documenting, one cannot be sure that this tendency will result in politically correct choices in every case. Women in the past were more conservative voters than men—and even helped keep France out of the hands of the Communists following World War II, though the Communists had been in the forefront of extending the franchise to women. Most white Protestant women in the U.S. still vote Republican, even if they have moved generally to the left of their male counterparts. While Judis and Teixeira cite obvious changes in the self-image of American and other Western women, one should not treat present trends as permanent ones.
But the major problem of Republican strategists and politicians is of a different kind, namely imagining that those trends Judis and Teixeira explore will disappear once Republicans have reached out far enough to the Left. As a former graduate student of mine turned historian put it, there are two national parties, the real Democrats and the wannabe Democrats, the latter of which try to impersonate the opposition. Contrary to what The Emerging Democratic Majority suggests, the Republicans do not serve right-wing constituencies, except for occasionally throwing bones to corporate friends. In the presidential debates, George W. Bush could not bring himself to say that he opposed racial and gender quotas. Instead he talked enthusiastically about “affirmative access.” In return for less than ten percent of the black vote, as Steve Sailer showed in commentaries on VDARE .com after the 2000 election, Bush surrendered millions of white male voters, many of whom had voted for his father in 1992 but resented his waffling.
It is also hard to find the value in the way the Republican National Committee and most Republican politicians treat immigration. To speak of this blunder, which Judis and Teixeira properly celebrate as their kind of diversity, and which will soon cost the Republican Party both congressional and presidential races in key states, as “Hispanic outreach” brings to mind the Saturday Night Live skit Republican presidential candidate who boasts about his “strategery.” Studies by, among others, Steve Sailer, John O’Sullivan, and Peter Brimelow conclude that Republicans may be doomed to permanent minority status if Hispanic immigration is allowed to continue at its present rate. Yet, the Republicans, led by Karl Rove and the Wall Street Journal, advocate this road to disaster, while Rove has raged against the idea of recruiting Republican voters from among those who oppose immigration, which may by now be a majority of Americans. Equally silly have been the Republican efforts to court Jewish votes by fawning on the Zionist Right. Bob Dole’s attempt to outdo the Israeli Right in his ill-fated presidential campaign of 1996 by bashing the Palestinians, netted him less than 20 percent of the Jewish vote. It also helped enhance his opportunistic image after he had tried to reach out to every designated victim group, including gays. (Stanley Renshon published an eye-opening essay on Dole’s outreach and the problem of vacuous politics in the September/October 2000 edition of Society.)
Although one can differ about the causes of this grotesque behavior, be it the leftist media, congenital stupidity, or WASP social guilt, it is something Republicans have done to themselves. Having voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 overwhelmingly and having introduced affirmative action programs under Nixon, the GOP has done at least as much as its Democratic opponents to win black votes. Perhaps it can now start catering to the Middle Americans who have voted Republican—or to the white male Americans who have grown disgusted with Republican opportunism masked as outreach. Let Republican strategists worry about their own base for a change, lest all of it stays home on election day. And let them stop thinking that they are morally reprehensible when they look for voters on the Right. Needless to say, the bogus Right will join the Left in decrying Republican candidates who come out against immigration; and yes, journalist David Broder will predictably describe any Republican as a racist, as he did Senator Helms for the hundredth time last year, who calls attention to the set-asides received by a black opponent. (Judis and Teixeira, by the way, complain bitterly about the resort to “racial wedge issues” among Republican candidates who notice violent crime during their campaigns.) But those are the necessarily divisive things that a competitive national party will have to face as it builds a right-of-center constituency. Only once this course has been tried and failed will the Judis-Teixeira Democratic majority seem historically inevitable.
Paul Gottfried is the author of Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Toward a Secular Theocracy and professor of humanities at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.