Thursday, November 21, 2013
I've been watching the continuing trainwreck known as "Obamacare", which maybe become better known as the "Unaffordable Health Care Act" played out with new screw-ups coming to light daily. Just recently, we learned that 40% of the "back-end" portion of the site remains to be developed. This is the financial management portion and covers such trivials as providing financial assistance for those unable to afford coverage, which, judging from the news reports, will be just about everybody, and now we're learning not being able to keep your current doctor may be another. To date, few individuals have signed up, and insurance companies are continuing to drop coverage while some employers see this as open season on employee healthcare insurance coverage. President Obama said that "Obamacare" would be his legacy; the centerpiece of his presidency. Well, on that point, he appears right. It won't be long forgotten. Personally, I think we need to take another serious look at single payer coverage.
Meanwhile, the Huffington Post published an article about what lessons the Republican Party could learn from the changes being implemented by Pope Francis. Apparently, the new pope is moving at lightning speed (at least, by Vatican standards), to reel in some of the abuses by the Church of recent, such as the rampant cover-up of pedophilia while reaffirming other standing dogma such as the role of women in the Church. Someone I know posted the article on their Facebook page, which prompted a comment what mistakes the GOP should admit to and how they should be addressed.
My response was brief, and as usual, to the point. I remarked that what hurt the Republican Party, at least nationally, has been its stand on some, if not most of its social issues; it's opposition to decrease dependence on oil and opposition to alternative energy sources; refusal to address term limits, real campaign finance reform; a comprehensive reform of the tax system, more controls on big business and less on small business, and, of course, the gerryrigging of elections through redistricting regulations. Not too surprising, I received a response from (apparently) an establishment type Republican. His comment was polite, which I appreciated, however, he thought that I was comparing "apples and oranges" and thought the GOP didn't need to change it current stance on the above issues, which he didn't think hurt the Republican Party. What needed, he said, was to change was tactics and new ways to change the current ground rules. I think he is, in a way, correct and at the same time, wrong. Allow me to explain.
These issues are key points for the GOP's base. Namely, it's uber-conservative stance on certain social issues such as not recognizing of gay relationships and marriage, Christian prayer in school, pro-life, support for the 2nd Amendment, among others. These are core bedrock issues---non-negotiable---for the GOP rank and file now that the moderates have been all but expunged. The GOP has traditionally been considered the "Capitalistic" Party, and as such, is beholden to business, especially big business and that includes the oil and energy industry. First, the GOP as a whole denies global warming. Secondly, it continues to push for development of oil and gas based energy while cutting environmental restrictions and funding for alternative energy sources. Following along that vein, it sees no incentives for term limits, campaign finance reform (and, in fact, the GOP supported the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" ruling which gave full rights to corporations equivalent to you and I), nor does it have any interest in promoting less restrictions on small businesses while it does for its big corporate donors. Finally, the Republicans (and Democrats for that matter) won't willing forego their stranglehold on the redistricting, which allows both parties, in a twisted sense of bipartisanship, to arrange districts to suit their party, thereby assuring no competitive elections.
Here's the problem for the GOP. Its base is mainly White, well educated, and well-to-do, is ageing fast and getting rapidly smaller. In fact, the largest bloc of voters for both parties, has been the Babyboomers (of which I am one), are hitting retirement age and starting to exit the scene. White males are already a minority. Whites in general will be near on par with the next largest group, Hispanics, in roughly 15 years, followed by Blacks and Asians (Asians are expected to overcome Blacks, at least regionally, in only 20 - 30 years). By age bracket, Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000), also known as "Generation Y", are increasingly replacing Babyboomers (and, whose numbers, are greater than the Babyboomer population). In addition, women are an increasing political force. They are also more socially liberal.
Taken as a whole, these groups tend to lean Left on social issues, especially the Millennials regardless of gender or race. In particular, they are the primary force behind support for gay marriage. They have the least objection to non-traditional relationship along gender and race lines. They are also firmly convinced of global warming, be it part of a natural cycle, the result of industry or some combination. Therefore, they are strong advocates of green technology (and technology in general). They are also the most "anti-establishment" of all groups. They are the least likely to have any interest in government or public service while having the highest interest in community or civic service. Because they bear the brunt of public debt, inherited by "can-kicking" policies and by student loan debt, they support a total tax overhaul as well as term limits and removing as much social control from government as possible. In short, they distain both political parties and most current government institutions. These same groups are the least religious, especially when it comes to organized religion. Oh, and these were the groups who overwhelmingly supported Obama and has continued to support those seen as socially liberal.
To sum up, the very issues which provides the core for the GOP are also the same issues which will doom it over the next few years as their base continues to shrink (as an aside, the Democrats don't have a lock on these groups either). Therefore, the Republican Party appears to have an interesting choice. Maintain their current positions and attempt to buy time by focusing on tactics and other delaying actions while increasingly losing more elections, or modifying their stance on key issues, especially social issues, which could grow its base over time as its present core continuing to exist from history's stage. This approach would cause short term loses with increased probability of more wins over time. I have no doubt what my choice would be. How about you?
Tech official: Up to 40% of Obamacare work left
What the GOP Can Learn From Pope Francis
Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next