Updated: December 8, 2012 6:36AM
The Republican Party’s last hurrah is fast approaching. Its coming demise may not be obvious from the outcome of this election, but I think it’s all but certain.
I’m not talking about the Republican Party that was created in the 1850s by opponents of slavery. That GOP was trampled to death by the herds of anti-civil rights Democrats, social conservatives and money-grubbers that started swelling the Republican Party’s ranks in the 1960s.
Since then, the core of the Grand Old Party has consisted mainly of those who oppose the social and cultural changes the civil rights movement ushered in, and greedy plutocrats who seek to profit from such intolerance. This eclectic group has been joined by the Tea Partiers, a collection of small-government, anti-tax, no-compromising political activists. Through all these groups membership is nearly all white.
It is this lack of diversity that is plunging the party toward extinction. The Census Bureau has reported that Hispanics, blacks, Asians and other minorities now account for 50.4 percent of children born in the U.S. By the middle of this century, minorities are projected to outnumber non-Hispanic whites. But long before then, this nation’s changing demographics will alter the political landscape.
Blacks and Hispanics constitute more than one-quarter of the population in three battleground states — Florida (39.4 percent), Colorado (25.2 pecent) and North Carolina (30.6 percent). Soon, the growth of minorities in these states will make them more likely to end up in the Democratic column.
Texas, a state with the second largest number of Electoral College votes, has been in the Republican column in every presidential election since 1980. But Hispanics and blacks are now 50.3 percent of the population, and by 2020 the population shift there will probably make it a good bet to go Democratic.
With the GOP firmly in the hands of right-wingers and their billionaire allies, there’s little chance it can increase its share of the black and Hispanic vote.
Support from Hispanic voters for Democratic presidential candidates has grown in recent years. The number of Hispanics who say the Democratic Party cares more about Latinos has risen from 45 percent in 2011 to 61 percent this year, the Pew Hispanic Center reported. In 1940, 42 percent of blacks were Republicans, which equaled the same number who identified themselves as Democrats that year. In 2008, 76 percent of blacks were Democrats and just 4 percent said they were Republicans, according to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
The new trend in American politics is toward the kind of racial and ethnic coalitions that made Harold Washington Chicago’s first black mayor in 1983 and made Barack Obama this nation’s first black president in 2008.
Sure, Republicans have had a lot of success racking up election victories with little help from black and Hispanic voters, but that’s not going to continue very far into the future.
The GOP’s impending doom is masked by a burst of energy that might keep it competitive through a couple more election cycles. But the Republican Party is destined for the political scrap heap in the not-too-distant future.
Gannett News Service