The GOP's base problem by KOS

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 , Posted by LATINO EVENTS Y TESPIS MAGAZINE at 3:23 PM

I just read this article written by Kos on his website DailyKos. With the Arlen Specter defection today, the Democrats and Obama win. Republicans keep on sinking and becoming a fringe right wing party.
Arlen Specter (PA) Now a Democrat. AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File)

The GOP's base problem.

by kos

Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 08:08:03 AM PDT

I've made this point before, but it bears repeating.
Back in 2002, the Democratic Party was a disaster. It was beset by an establishment convinced that this was a center-right nation, and that the only path to victory was to be Republican-lite. It was outgunned by a conservative movement that had a well-established idea factory and message machine, with a traditional media more eager to pick up Fox News themes than to hold the administration accountable. And it was plagued by a consultant class that still thought the calendar read 1968, and that their campaigns couldn't associate with dirty fucking hippies or innovate with new tools like the "internets".
Lucky for them, a new generation of activists arose to challenge the status quo -- on MoveOn, blogs, DFA, and so on, in addition to a core group of big-money donors willing to invest in a new party infrastructure.

This was a movement predicated on getting the Democratic Party off its self-destructive path, and realigning it with the populace. There was an ideological component to our work, sure, but also a very practical one. From the beginning, we were poll-obsessed, and we knew by looking at the numbers that we could succeed and thrive as a liberal party if we abandoned the Joe Lieberman-school of politics and became clear, unapologetic, and muscular progressives, while building the infrastructure to generate and disseminate our ideas.
Anyone remember how conservatives gloated when we got Howard Dean elected chairman of our party? Anyone remember how our party's DC establishment reacted, in genuine horror and fear for the party's future?
Time has vindicated us, of course, to the point that in just four years, my and Jerome Armstrong's then-revolutionary tome, Crashing the Gate, now appears pretty tame and conventional. Yeah us! We won that battle to the betterment of our party and country.
Now Republicans find themselves on the outs, electorally rejected, leaderless and moribund. Yet while we had an activist class clamoring for change and reform, Republicans seem headed in the opposite and (for them) wrong direction.
But outside Washington, the reality is very different. Rank-and-file Republicans remain, by all indications, staunchly conservative, and they appear to have no desire to moderate their views. GOP activists and operatives say they hear intense anger at the White House and at the party’s own leaders on familiar issues – taxes, homosexuality, and immigration. Within the party, conservative groups have grown stronger absent the emergence of any organized moderate faction.
There is little appetite for compromise on what many see as core issues, and the road to the presidential nomination lies – as always – through a series of states where the conservative base holds sway, and where the anger appears to be, if anything, particularly intense.
Note -- Democrats didn't succeed because we forced them to "moderate" and "compromise" on key party principles, but because we forced them to stand up for them. But here's the difference -- our principles are actually quite popular -- no unnecessary wars, access to good health care, responsive government, tax fairness, and so on. Conservative principles? Not so popular. War, a lower tax burden for the rich, environmental devastation, hating on immigrants and people of color, starving government and the rest of their agenda really doesn't light anyone up beyond the wingnut fringe.
In 1984, Ronald Reagan won 61 percent of the under-30 vote. The first Bush won the youth vote as well (though by much smaller margins). As a result, Gen X remains the generation most loyal to the GOP. Also in 1988, white voters were 85 percent of the voter pool.
In 2008, the white vote was down to 74 percent of the total, while the under-30 crowd voted Obama by a 66-32 margin. So the electorate is becoming more colorful, while the youth vote has swung decisively toward the Democrats for three straight elections.
In other words, those that best respond to the current GOP message are becoming an increasingly smaller part of the American electorate, while the newest voters are essentially repulsed by that message. And despite the valiant efforts by the likes of Republicans like Mehgan McCain and Steve Schmidt, the base won't let the party moderate on gay marriage (even though gay marriage could easily be recast as a "conservative" position -- keeping government out of the business of regulating how people live), or any other issue the base considers part of conservative orthodoxy like immigration, taxes, or government spending. I mean, how ridiculous did Govs. Palin, Sanford, and Jindal look trying to reject federal stimulus money?
So what's left? How can a regressive, reactionary party continue to function as a national going concern when its message appeals to a shrinking and aging base, and when the nation's youngest voters reject it by a margin of over 30 points?
Well, it can't, not when its base (unlike ours) is dead-set on keeping its party outside of the American mainstream.

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