Thursday, December 6, 2012

Republicans' Only Hope?

Everyone is full of advice to Republicans on how to enlarge the coalition.  "Be nice" seems to be the consensus, especially "be nice" to Hispanics.

But really, can Republicans ever compete with Democrats when it comes to sharing out the loot?

The irreducible fact of the US two party system is that, at least since the Civil War, the Republican Party has been the party of the "typical American" and the Democratic Party the party of the hyphenated American.  Typical Americans think that the system works pretty well; hyphenated Americans have a beef with the system.

This plays into the two basic narratives of the modern era: the Invisible Hand narrative and the Exploitation narrative.

As Michael Barone writes in The New Americans Americans tend to start out as embattled, exploited immigrant communities; as they begin to succeed they feel less embattled and thus become less likely to "fight" for their rights.  But some groups--think Jews and blacks--retain their sense of apartness longer than most.

The fact is that blacks and Hispanics are the latest additions to the American stew and they typically feel that the deck is stacked against them, and reckon their chances better with the share-out-the-loot party.  That is likely to continue for a while.

But history tells us that, despite everything, immigrants get fed up with the loot party.  It happened with the Reagan Democrats in 1980.  No doubt it will happen again when the "blue social model" starts to run out of other peoples' money.  For instance, what happens when the money starts to run out for state government pension systems?  Is is a "blue civil war," as Walter Russell Mead suggests, as Democratic Party supporters fight over the disappearing spoils?

Probably the more likely near-term outlook is denial.  After all, it's what liberals famously accuse everyone else of.  As amateur observers of liberal psychology, we should think of this as "projection."  And it is clear that President Obama's "rich pay a little more" policy is nothing but denial.

But nobody should expect the Democrats' blue coalition to cry "uncle" and back off on its loot philosophy until long after disaster is staring it in the face.

Meanwhile we should expect some groups to peel off from the Democratic coalition: perhaps the upper-income professionals, social liberal and economically conservative, that will overlook the down-market social conservatism of the Republican Party as the Obama taxes start to bite.

And let us not forget the big takeaway from the 2012 election: white voters that didn't turn out.  Who were they?  The likeliest argument is that they were working-class whites demoralized by the Romney-is-an-uncaring-plutocrat Obama ads.

So thank goodness that the GOP's leading contenders for 2016, Rep. Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Rubio (R-FL), are lifetime professional politicians that never went near the planet Pluto or ever learned how to run a business.

Still, it's a shame.  Businessmen are the people that converted the $3 per day economy of 1800 into the $120 per day economy of today.

Why in the world would the average person be afraid of chaps like that?

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