The Republican Party finds itself in the same position as the average corporation—they have to learn to manage change. However, their problem is while in corporations real change requires the acceptance of facts and logics, the politics of the Republican right is a religion.
In trying to appeal to their white and generally ageing base, the Republican Party seemingly did its best to alienate every other demographic in America.
The anti-immigrant rallying cry was intended to reassure the base that the Party would do its best to ensure that the country remained as white as possible for as long as possible.
Latinos responded by giving Obama 71% of their vote in the Presidential Elections.
In their constant attempts to delegitimize Obama by questioning his birth and heritage, Republicans believed that they could both maintain their strong appeal with Southern whites without paying a political price because blacks were not going to vote for them anyway.
This idea was also misguided because in revenge for the way in which the first black President has been treated by Republicans, blacks came out to vote in even larger numbers than 2008—something which most pundits had deemed impossible given the momentous and historic nature of that particular poll and its promise of the nation’s first black President.
Republicans ignored young people by supporting policies that paid financial institutions billions of dollars for merely acting as the middlemen in distributing government grants and loans to college students. Alternatively, Democrats supported policies that bypassed the middlemen and ensured that more of these grants and loans ended up in the hands of the students.
Most critically, Republicans declared a war on women’s healthcare organizations such as Planned Parenthood and Susan G Komen. They also agitated to deny women contraception under their health plans and then made crude and insensitive comments on abortion rights and rape. These all combined to ensure that Obama won the women’s vote by a massive 11%.
That was especially important because women vote in greater numbers than men.
The omens for the future are not good. With minorities increasing in importance and Democrats capturing the youth vote by a margin of almost 2 to 1, the Republicans have not only found themselves on the wrong side of issues, they are also on the wrong side of history.
The question is, can the Republican Party manage change while at the same time expanding beyond its existing base?
Under normal circumstances, the answer to that question would have to be yes, given that they must have learned something from this latest defeat. However, the Republican base is not your average political group.
Apart from the fact that an older generation, irrespective of race, time and place, will always be set in its ways, the problem with this group of Republicans lies in the very nature of their politics.
Unfortunately, the politics of the America right has become a religion and indeed it is partly driven by religion with much of the Republican base being made up of evangelical Christians. A recent survey by Public Policy Polling showed that more Republicans, a whopping 68%, believe in demonic possession than believe in global warming which comes in at a very lowly 48%.
These are staggering statistics.
Americans talk about religious extremism and Islam but this has to be religious extremism at its worst, with very, very real and negative consequences for our planet.
It does not appear that the Republican base of older white voters can even contemplate change. They elected George Bush on a platform of “compassionate conservatism”. However, when Bush tried to enact immigration reform his own Party shot him down.
This time around, they decided that they wanted to keep their policies but put a more moderate face to the electorate by selecting Mitt Romney in the primaries. This is why they kept their mouths shut when Romney suddenly presented himself to America as a moderate alternative to Obama during the first debate in Denver.
Had Romney won, it would indeed have been interesting to see how quickly Republicans would have disabused him of that notion.
Can the Republican Party effect change?
The answer is yes, but probably not without losing its politically religious base which has been fed a “red meat” diet of race, gender and social prejudices for so long that political rigor mortis has now set in.
Either way, it will be a long march to a slow death.
Jonathan Ledwudge is the author of the book A Mannequin For President.