Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Democrat-voting Conservatives

For some reason it is considered a bad thing that few minorities vote Republican. It's a failure of Republican outreach, or outright racism in the Republican Party.

Michael Medved tries a variant of this. He quotes the August 1 Gallup Poll that has 41 percent of American adults call themselves "conservative" against 21 percent that call themselves "liberal." How come then that President Obama won the 2008 election 53 percent to 47 percent? The reason is simple:

The voters who support Obama in spite of ideology are to a great extent black, Hispanic, and Asian conservatives who feel drawn to right-wing ideas but remain allergic to the Republican Party.

Even in 2010, "In national balloting for House seats, only 9 percent of black voters backed GOP candidates, along with 38 percent of Latinos and 40 percent of Asians."

(Wow! 38 percent of Hispanics and 40 percent of Asians? That's better than I thought.)

The reason for the low minority share for the GOP is usually attributed to white racism and the idea that the party is a "closed country club welcoming only elderly, white, Christian males." So what's the GOP going to do about it? Huh?

I think this misstates the problem. The reason that minorities vote Democratic is that the Democratic Party is a party that celebrates hyphenation. If you think of yourself more as black, or Hispanic, or gay, or feminist rather than American then the Democratic Party is the party for you. And nothing that Republicans can do will change that.

The Republican Party is the party of unhyphenated Americans, people who believe that if you get an education, get skills, work hard, and pay your taxes, then America will deliver. The Democratic Party is the party for people who believe that without governmental intervention, they are screwed.

The Republican notion is the counter-instinctive idea that grew up in the last half-millennium and is packaged in Adam Smith's idea of the "invisible hand." The natural human instinct is to trust in family and the kindred and the tribe, and to be suspicious of the chaps down the road who might launch a dawn raid on our village any day. Trust a stranger or a chap from a different ethnic group? You gotta be kidding. Yet the fact of the last 200 years is that you can trust strangers, usually. If you do, and if the stranger is indeed trustworthy then everyone benefits. And capitalism, down the decades, has developed pretty good ways of figuring out who is trustworthy and who is not.

The two most Democratic groups are blacks and Jews. They are the folks that are the most scared of Republicans: blacks because Republicans are white and Jews because Republicans are Christian. They are scared because their leaders work constantly at making them scared. Any moment black leaders say, whites will break out the white sheets and turn back the clock on civil rights. Any moment, liberal Jewish leaders insist, Christians will start a new pogrom against the Jews. The current effort to brand the Tea Party as white, Christian, and racist is transparently part of this effort. The only way to make 90 percent of any group to agree on something is to scare them witless.

The way for Republicans to detoxify the brand has to lead through this shameless fear-mongering of black and liberal Jewish leaders. Shame the black and Jewish leaders and short-circuit their fear-mongering and you'll find the numbers moving in the Republican direction.

Let's ask a different question. Why is it that 38 percent of Hispanics and 40 percent of Asians voted GOP in 2010? Could it be that their leaders don't work night and day to frighten them off the Republicans?

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating. The party of hyphenated Americans. You are absolutely right. I completely understand why Asians and Hispanics lean away from the Republican party when all they ever see is Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell and Boehner on their TVs. Hell, I don't want to be a Republican either... What choice do I have? Democrats lost me 30 years ago. I'd hoped the Tea Party movement would have broadened the appeal of the party (and maybe it has). But the media has done a first rate job of tainting the Tea Party as a moronic, racist, immigrant hating conservative sub-culture. So what can we do. It's a two party system and am not a Democrat or a hyphenated American.