California: Bellwether of a GOP in Decline
Since 1928, only Dwight Eisenhower and George W. Bush have won the presidency while capturing both houses of Congress for the GOP. In his 49-state landslide, Richard Nixon failed to take either House. In his two landslides, Ronald Reagan won back only the Senate. Yet Mitt Romney is even money to pull off the hat trick.
With this hopeful prospect, why the near despair among so many Republicans about the long term?
In his New York Times report, “In California, GOP Fights Steep Decline,” Adam Nagourney delves into the reasons. In the Golden Land, a state Nixon carried all five times he was on a national ticket and Reagan carried by landslides all four times he ran, the GOP does not hold a single statewide office. It gained not a single House seat in the 2010 landslide. Party registration has fallen to 30 percent of the California electorate and is steadily sinking.
It is said that California Republicans are too out of touch, too socially conservative on issues like right-to-life and gay rights. “When you look at the population growth,” says GOP consultant Steve Schmidt, “the actual party is shrinking. It’s becoming more white. It’s becoming older.” Race, age and ethnicity are at the heart of the problem. And they portend not only the party’s death in California, but perhaps its destiny in the rest of America.
Consider. Almost 90 percent of all Republican voters in presidential elections are white. Almost 90 percent are Christians. But whites fell to 74 percent of the electorate in 2008 and were only 64 percent of the population. Christians are down to 75 percent of the population from 85 in 1990. The falloff continues and is greatest among the young.
Consider ethnicity. Hispanics were 15 percent of the U.S. population in 2008 and 7.4 percent of the electorate. Both percentages will inexorably rise. Yet in their best years, like 2004, Republicans lose the Hispanic vote 3-to-2. In bad years, like 2008, they lose it 2-to-1. Whites are already a minority in California, and Hispanics will eventually become the majority. Say goodbye to the Golden Land.
Asian-Americans voted 3-to-2 for Obama, black Americans 24-to-1. The Asian population in California and the nation is growing rapidly. The black population, 13 percent of the nation, is growing steadily.
Whites, already a minority in our two most populous states, will be less than half the U.S. population by 2041 and a minority in 10 states by 2020.
Consider now the Electoral College picture. Of the seven mega-states, California, New York and Illinois appear lost to the GOP. Pennsylvania has not gone Republican since 1988. Ohio and Florida, both crucial, are now swing states. Whites have become a minority in Texas. When Texas goes, America goes. This year could be the last hurrah.
The GOP must work harder to win Hispanic votes, we are told. But consider the home economics and self-interest of Hispanics. Half of all U.S. wage-earners pay no income tax. Yet that half and their families receive free education K-12, Medicaid, rent supplements, food stamps, earned income tax credits, Pell grants, welfare payments, unemployment checks and other benefits.
Why should poor, working- and middle-class Hispanics, the vast majority, vote for a party that will reduce taxes they don’t pay, but cut the benefits they do receive?
The majority of Latinos, African-Americans, immigrants and young people 18 to 25 pay no income taxes yet enjoy a panoply of government benefits. Does not self-interest dictate a vote for the party that will let them keep what they have and perhaps give them more, rather than the party that will pare back what they now receive?
What are the historic blunders of the Grand Old Party that may yet appear on the autopsy report as probable causes of death?
First, the party, intimidated by name-calling, refused to stop a tidal wave of immigration that brought 40 million people here whose families depend heavily on government. We needed a time-out to assimilate them and see them move out of the tax-consuming sector of the nation. Republicans acquiesced in the importation of a new electorate that may provide the decisive votes to send the party to the ash heap of history.
Second, Republicans, when enacting tax cuts, repeatedly dropped millions of taxpayers off the rolls, creating a huge class that contributes little to pay for the expanding cornucopia of benefits it receives.
Third, the social revolution of the 1960s captured the culture and converted much of the nation. According to a new Pew poll, the number of Americans who profess a belief in no religion at all has tripled since the 1990s and is now one in five of our countrymen.
If your racial and ethnic voter base is aging, shrinking and dying, your moral code is being rejected, and the tax-consuming class has been allowed to grow to equal or to dwarf the taxpaying class, the Grand Old Party has a problem. But then so, too, does the country.
Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of TAC and the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?” Copyright 2012 Creators.com.