Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
“The demographics race we’re losing badly,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.). “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
--Washington Post, August 29, 2012
The fact that the Republican Party is the party of white men isn't news. As the Washington Post
reported in the same article quoted above, exit polls from 2008 indicated that roughly nine out of every ten voters for the Republican Party were white. Polling this year indicates a similar trend: A recent poll conducted by NBC and the Wall Street Journal
found President Obama leading Republican nominee Mitt Romney
among African Americans by a margin of 94 to 0 (that is not a misprint), and another recent poll conducted by impreMedia and Latino Decisions found Romney trailing by nearly 30 points
among the fast-growing Latino population. Ethnic minorities aren't the only problem facing the Republican Party, where Romney faces a steep deficit
among women as well.
It's no secret, nor any surprise, that conventional wisdom holds that these numbers spell eventual doom for the Republican Party as the electorate becomes less and less white. The increase in the minority electorate means that in order to have any viable shot at winning right now, Gov. Romney will need to command landslide numbers among white voters. Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine shows just how steep this hole is:
A Republican strategist said something interesting and revealing on Friday, though it largely escaped attention in the howling gusts of punditry over Mitt Romney’s birth certificate crack and a potential convention-altering hurricane. The subject was a Ron Brownstein story outlining the demographic hit rates each party requires to win in November. To squeak out a majority, Mitt Romney probably needs to win at least 61 percent of the white vote — a figure exceeding what George H.W. Bush commanded over Michael Dukakis in 1988. The Republican strategist told Brownstein, “This is the last time anyone will try to do this” — “this” being a near total reliance on white votes to win a presidential election.
In order to win, in other words, the Republican candidate would have to do better among white voters than any other Republican has in essentially the past quarter-century. But unless the 1988 election, where that discrepancy among white voters produced a landslide
in the electoral college for George H. W. Bush, such a figure would only be a break-even number for the Republican nominee this November.
(Continue reading below the fold.)
The need to win reactionary white voters in huge numbers goes a long way toward explaining the recent turn of the Romney-Ryan ticket toward resentment-focused race-baiting that continues the false narrative of lazy minorities sucking up the tax dollars of hard-working white people. This has manifested itself in Romney's new turn toward birtherism and his mendacious insistence that the president is gutting welfare-to-work requirements, as well as Rep. Paul Ryan's entire cavalcade of prevarication, but especially the part where he falsely accuses President Obama of directing $716 billion from Medicare (read: earned benefits for older white people) toward ObamaCare (read: free, unearned health care for poor people).
The problem? It's not working for Romney right now. And even with the implementation of voter ID laws that are specifically designed to prevent Democratic-leaning demographics from voting, the dauntless march of demographic destiny assures that without major change, the Republican Party is doomed at the national level unless it changes its tone to appeal to the hopes and dreams of minority populations.
But Sen. Graham's comments quoted above suggest the complete opposite approach. Rather than accepting the more diverse future of the country, Graham views the changing demographics of the country as a race—presumably between the white people who vote for Republicans and the minorities who don't. And instead of suggesting that the Republican Party should try to do something to get the faster-growing minority populations to see things their way, he recommends "generating" more angry white guys. Now, maybe the senator from South Carolina is merely suggesting that his party needs to find ways to make existing white guys even more resentful of minorities (presumably because birtherism and lies about welfare and Medicare aren't enough), but there's another way to read that comment as well: that they literally, physically need to generate more white guys. It harkens back to a concept I have addressed before called Demographic Winter, which is a a key priority for socially conservative organizations:
And what is the concept of "demographic winter"? A right-wing notion with culturalist, if not racist, overtones regarding the end of first-world civilization because of declining birthrates.
If Sen. Graham is to be taken at face value, the solution for the Republican Party may not be to cater to minorities at all, but to try to breed more white people. It may seem counterintuitive, but it would be much more in keeping with the tea party extremists and the social conservatives who have come to dominate it.