Saturday, April 14, 2012

The GOP Brand --- Is Anyone Buying?

I read an article recently by Juan Williams of Fox News in which he describes the GOP as a "troubled brand", which got me to thinking. Why is the Republican Party so out of touch with the American People? This election should be a slam dunk when you think about all of the stuff Obama has done (and not done). After all, we have still an economy in trouble; bail outs for Wall Street but none for Main Street; the "World Apology" Tour; million dollars vacations; Obama's efforts to "backdoor" laws against illegal immigration; and let's not forget costs reduction in US military preparedness. So, what gives?

Well, first off, the GOP's base was always mostly middle class white Americans, and they're aren't as many as there once was. Whites are no longer the dominate race in this country. It is, however, the largest minority. A close second are Hispanics. For this reason, Obama & Company have been doing everything in their power to circumvent existing immigration laws. Forget "humanitarian" reasons, this is about votes pure and simple. Being the second largest minority, the Left no longer needs white voters, especially if they can carry a plurality of the other minority groups. In fact, Obama's previous election was a clear example of that.

Blacks are now America's third largest minority, and as such, will have to complete with Hispanics for federal and state funded programs. Given the finite amount of tax money available, the group with the largest numbers will be the beneficiaries. In the past, that was black Americans, but that's all changed. Bringing up the rear are Asians, who are closing rapidly and will likely surpass blacks in the next 20 years or so years as the third largest population, if not nationally, then certainly regionally.

If we look briefly at religion, we'll find a continued decline among Protestants (especially Evangelical), which have been the mainstay of the GOP's conservative base. However, the vast majority of Hispanics are conservative Catholic (they also differ from American Catholics who seem to regard Church directives more as "suggestions" whereas Catholics of Latin America take the Churches directives as, well, gospel). Asians remains mostly Buddhist and Hindus. But the largest growing religion in America is none of these. It's Islam. We're seeing mosques going up everywhere, especially in America's heartland---the Midwest.

Now, is this the result of our presence in Afghanistan and Iraq? Could be. It seems that in each conflict America finds itself in, we seem to adopt something of the opposing culture. In recent memory, consider Southeast Asia. American servicemen and women often returned home with new interests (like for Asian food, philosophy, martial arts, and even yoga/Tai Chi following WWII and Korea). Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh became almost a folk hero on American campuses during the latter half of the Vietnam War. Even our music changed with the introduction of various instruments and musical ideas.

But, this is different. We adopted, on our own, much this. There was, of course, a small influx of Asians (especially South Vietnamese), but the changes were largely of our own making. In this case, we're seeing a large influx of Moslem populations, especially from poorer counties; many of whom refuse to adopt Western traditions (like "honor" killings or spousal abuse are bad), as well as dress, etc. Religion also changes mindsets and behavior. I have to wonder if it changes national loyalties too.

Of course, not only has America's racial, ethnic and religious makeup changed, but with so has our economic makeup. America's success has always the middle class. They are the 9 to 5 folks, or the ones pulling the night shift. Some worked in office buildings, but many more worked in factories whose jobs were "outsourced" overseas. It also includes the small business owners who employ more workers than anyone. Now, we have more people trying to get by with less because there are fewer good paying jobs; there are more people willing to work longer for little of nothing with fewer (if any) benefits. Unions, while still a good thing, have often shot themselves in the foot by over demanding. Soon-to-be retirees worry about underfunded pension funds, and whether or not there will be Social Security or Medicare. Most doubt they'll ever retire. Few can afford the "American Dream" of a home in a safe neighborhood with good schools.

College students are DOA in the work force thanks to their debt load, plus the debt thrown on them by the government to cover our national safety net, which increasingly includes illegal aliens who take, on average $5 from the system for every $1 they put in.

This is where, I believe, the Republican Party, and conservative groups are missing the boat. The GOP has gone too far to the Right. It has lost touch with the average American. Frankly, this can be said of both political parties, but it seems to have affected the Republicans the most. The Left has always been about entitlements and making everyone happy. The GOP used to be the party of opportunity. It was the Democrats who wanted to social engineer everyone's lives while the GOP wanted government out of our lives as much as possible, and that included our churches, temples, synagogues, and especially our bedrooms.

If the Conservative Right is to survive, it has to return to its past. It has to become again politically moderate, whose focus is on jobs, education, and creating a balanced economic playing field. Economic opportunity is the ultimate equalizer. It is the nemesis of terrorists--domestic and international..and social. The Right is going to have to accept that, in the end, it will not win on issues regarding gay rights including marriage. For the newer voters--the youth just now entering the social arena--being gay is a non-issue. It is not going to reverse Roe vs Wade; not because of the moral aspect, but because it's a matter of personal choice of the individual over the State's. The answer will have to be found at home; in teaching morality at the family's dinner table.

Religion too needs to reestablish its place. Conservative groups can not prevail by imposing their world view on others. They can only influence by living their faith. We are too diverse of a nation to demand a single faith's prayer in school (as if we ever could). America was founded not as a "Christian Nation", but as a nation of religious acceptance. It was the one place in the world where one was free to worship (or not) as one chooses. It's all a matter of balance.

Finally, the Republican Party, as well as the other conservative groups out there, are going to have to reach out to other minorities. No longer can they depend solely on White America. Not only are the numbers no longer there, it's simply not right. There are many conservative blacks, Asians, and Hispanics (though most are socially moderate or even liberal) who are waiting for an invitation. If the Grand Old Party is going to survive, it has no choice except to adopt these, and other changes. Otherwise, it will become the Grand Irreverent Party.

To read Juan Williams' article, The GOP's Trouble Brand.

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