New York’s Jonathan Chait has written persuasively on several occasions in the past year about the rather obvious fear and desperation—but not, paranoia, a distinction I think he too kindly makes, but no matter—of Republicans and the importance to the conservative right to win big in 2012, for the reason that it might be their very last chance to win nationally before rapidly changing racial demographics in the American electorate make that all but impossible.
The Republican Party is way, way more fucked than they dared suspect. New findings from Pew Research Survey’s close analysis of the youth vote in the 2012 elections strongly suggests the GOP’s worst nightmare: The rise of an increasingly liberal young electorate that cuts across racial boundaries. They’re even losing the younger white people!
Among the 2012 electorate, more voters identified themselves as conservative (35 percent) than liberal (25 percent), and more said the government is already doing too much that should be left to the private sector (51 percent) than asserted that the government ought to be doing more to solve problems (44 percent). But this is not the case with younger voters. By a 59 percent to 37 percent margin, voters under 30 say the government should do more to solve problems. More remarkably, 33 percent of voters under 30 identified themselves as liberal, as against 26 percent who called themselves conservative.
What all this suggests is that we may soon see a political landscape that will appear from the perspective of today and virtually all of American history as unrecognizably liberal. Democrats today must amass huge majorities of moderate voters in order to overcome conservatives’ numerical advantage over liberals. They must carefully wrap any proposal for activist government within the strictures of limited government, which is why Bill Clinton declared the era of big government to be over, and Obama has promised not to raise taxes for 99 percent of Americans. It’s entirely possible that, by the time today’s twentysomethings have reached middle age, these sorts of limits will cease to apply.
Obviously, such a future hinges on the generational patterns of the last two election cycles persisting. But, as another Pew survey showed, generational patterns to tend to be sticky. It’s not the case that voters start out liberal and move rightward. Americans form a voting pattern early in their life and tend to hold to it. That isn’t to say something couldn’t shake these voters loose from their attachment to the liberal worldview. Republicans fervently (and plausibly) hoped the Great Recession would be that thing; having voted for Obama and borne the brunt of mass unemployment, once-idealistic voters would stare at the faded Obama posters on their wall and accept the Republican analysis that failed Big Government policies have brought about their misery.
But young voters haven’t drawn this conclusion — or not many of them have, at any rate. So either something else is going to have to happen to disrupt the liberalism of the rising youth cohort, or else the Republican Party itself will have to change in ways far more dramatic than any of its leading lights seem prepared to contemplate.
I personally don’t expect to see much of a reversal of fortune for Republicans. They’re a party of silly old men, “morans,” racists, idiots, jingoists and religious fanatics and to many people, this is ALL that their shit-for-brains “semiotic” stands for. How do you go about rebranding the very gestalt of American political stupidity to make it more attractive to young, liberally inclined voters?
I don’t think you can do this. How would that even work?
And which one of these mentally deficient special interest bozo groups that constitute the modern day Republican party will be the first to embrace abortion rights, universal healthcare, gay marriage, Blacks and Latinos, living wages, equal pay for women and the separation of church and state?
It would be like turning on Fox News and all of a sudden Sean Hannity had grown a fucking brain or that Bill O’Reilly woke up wondering if maybe—just maybe, I said—he’s been wrong all of these years? About almost everything?
That ain’t gonna happen…
I’ll leave you with this tasty morsel of Republican idiocy: Rick Santorum is back and he’s got a new cause: Opposing the disabled.
I’m sure this will be a winning issue for Santorum and the GOP moving forward. If at first you don’t succeed, um… pick on the cripples, I guess.
That’s moral leadership, Republican style!