"We have a Latino problem that just cost us the election," Republican strategist Michael Murphy told NBC's Brian Williams last night.
This statement rivals Karl Rove's late-night futile whining about the Ohio numbers as one of the biggest examples of political denial following the 2012 election.
Murphy is right that the GOP has "a Latino problem" (and isn't that phrasing so telling?), but his comment is such a vast understatement as to be rank denial. The Republican party has a much broader problem than the Latino vote.
Republican strategists are now yammering on relentlessly about how the GOP needs to retool it's message to Latinos. Everyone knows that Latinos are the fastest-growing minority in America, and courting them as a voting bloc is an obvious winning strategy for the future. Well, duh, Karl & company. When did you notice?
But the Republicans also have a serious gender problem. Because females represent a majority of the American population, and women vote at higher rates than men. And women, regardless of race, typically vote Democratic. We all know why.
Republicans also have a sexual orientation problem. The number of openly gay Americans is rapidly increasing, and my money is on the fact that demographics will show that as a voting bloc, gays also turned out in last night's election in record numbers in favor of Democrats.
Demographics from last night's election show that yes, Latinos turned out, but also women turned out, Asian Americans turned out, and minority populations in general turned out to vote. And they mostly voted for Obama.
But most importantly, American youth turned out.
The Republican party is going to have to figure out that this country's electorate is no longer predominantly peopled by rich old white men. The days of political domination by that portion of the electorate have gone the way of the dinosaur. No longer is voting in America restricted to free white "landed gentry" males. We fixed that problem about 200 years ago, and it's not coming back.
But here's the biggest take-away from last night's election results: That the youth vote matters. Younger voters turn out at higher rates for national elections, and they favor things like women's rights, gay rights and minority rights. You know, civil rights. Human rights. So young people are the key to winning presidential races.Modern American youth are so used to diversity in their social lives that it is no wonder they could not relate to a lily-white male presidential candidate whose political party openly embraces social discrimination at so many levels. And young voters are the fastest growing voting bloc in the US. It doesn't matter whether they are white, black, brown, yellow, red, male, female, rich, poor, gay or straight, the youth vote is going to eclipse all other voting blocs just as a function of the natural laws of the universe. Time is on their side.
Surely political strategists are looking into the future and seeing this: that the American electorate is now and forever going to reject any presidential candidate from a party that enshrines social or economic oppression in any form in its platform. The modern GOP, with it's stubborn desire to turn back the social clock, is on it's way to the graveyard.
So now we get to watch as the GOP spends the next four years re-inventing its policies to reach out to women, racial and other minorities, and young people. Will they truly move to the center? Or will they disguise their desperation to stay relevant to 21st-century America with Trojan horse promises? Unfortunately, they have a history of doing the latter; witness their cynical usurpation of conservative Christian ideology, without ever actually delivering on a national scale when they had their greatest chance during the Bush administration.
Will they rein in the tea party, or cut that ball and chain loose? Will they begin to really work with vast portions of the population who represent people not like them? Or will they retreat to antiquated corners of this country's landscape, whispering their hate speech in board rooms and at rural gas station coffee tables?
Let's hope the Republican party actually sees the light, and legitimately attempts to make itself a more realistic player in our national politics. Because doing so will be good for all of us. It will be good for breaking the gridlock in Washington, and it will be good for reducing the political polarization that has been eating American society alive for over a decade.
And best of all, it will be good for the youth of this country. Because they deserve a chance to participate in a democracy like the one we used to have, and are supposed to have: one that doesn't see every candidate, every issue and even every consumer product as either red or blue, liberal or conservative, good or bad.
They will need at least that context to work in, because they have much bigger problems to solve than their parents did. And it's going to take all of them, the whole wonderfully diversified and creative community of next generation American citizens, to accomplish that.