Jonathan Chait of Daily Intel has a short but poignant piece on the changing demographics of our country and how they are affecting the Republican Party. For years, the Republican base has been made up almost entirely from the wealthy, white, older, male, and/or retired communities. That group used to have a much larger stake in the country, but today they are shrinking in the face of new immigration, and changing cultural demographics.
Normally, when facing the prospect of becoming irrelevant, a group will try to change their policy to reflect the changing culture. Not the GOP. No, instead, they're sticking to their tried-and-true policies and platforms, in the hopes of pulling out one last big election win with which to usher in their vision for America. And then? Well, if that happens, they won't have to worry about demographics any more.
The problem is that Republican party platforms do not appeal to a broad spectrum of people. The Republicans talk about wanting to dismantle Medicaid, Social Security, Food Stamps, and other social programs that are popular with new emerging groups of people. Not only that, but they want to take on positions of regressive taxation, and roll back our social policies in such a way that would deny rights that people have now (think abortion and gay marriage). Clearly, these positions are not popular with the majority of Americans. But, rather than rethinking their postions, Republicans and Tea Partiers continue to pronounce their own correctness, and are seeking instead to try and gain as much control as possible, one last time. At least, that's Chait's theory.
And what can we expect if that happens? Well, according to the article, some of Romney's advisors have predicted that he would be aggressive in rolling back these popular programs like those described above, which will likely make him a one-term president. However, that may also give Romney enough time to orchestrate national voter ID laws, like those that have cropped up in many states. Those laws, while controversial and in the process of being debated in courts, have been decried by many as a way of limiting people's access to the voting booth. In many cases, it has been shown that voter ID laws would limit the ability of people to vote, even if they are registered and legally eligible to do so, and that such laws restrict voters who usually vote democratic. If Romney were to support such measures nationally, you can imagine what that would mean for Republicans. They have also been attempting to change the demographics of our country by taking over the process of redistricting, which has led to a lot of controversy over how they have divided certain districts, to the point where these too have had to be approved by the court to make sure they are not overly partisan.
So, rather than change to meet the demands of America's new demographics, Republicans are seeking to either solidify their power by making it difficult for those new demographics to vote, or to have one last push to power that will give them the leverage they need to make the changes they want to see. If they are successful in either of these endeavors, I worry about the ramifications for our society, political culture, and our country.