GOP's Outreach Blues
All the wise heads are telling the GOP that it needs to reach out: to Hispanics, to blacks. Last week it was Michael Medved's turn to deliver avuncular reach-out advice.
And then there are the missing white voters of 2012. Sean Trende has a nice little chart on them here (scroll to the bottom). Who were these missing white voters? They were not "the Republican base or evangelicals (who constituted a larger share of the electorate than they did in 2004)." No, they were voters last seen in 1992, according to Trende.
For those with long memories, this stands out as the heart of the "Perot coalition." That coalition was strongest with secular, blue-collar, often rural voters who were turned off by Bill Clinton's perceived liberalism and George H.W. Bush's elitism.
The problem is that the missing white voters didn't like Mitt Romney's "creative destruction" resume either. How about reaching out to them?
The Republican Party has never had a clue how to "reach out" to voters. The GOP started out as a bunch of anti-slavery northerners with nowhere to go after the collapse of the Whig Party: the radical Republicans, they called them. No reaching out back then.
The GOP didn't do much reaching out in the 1950s; it had curled up by then into a defensive crouch. But along came the Goldwater libertarians, then Reagan Democrats, and then the religious Right. Did the party elders reach out to them, and decide that Goldwaterites, Reaganites, and evangelicals were the hottest things going? Not a bit of it. These were authentic social-political movements that couldn't take it any more, and they took over the party in the teeth of opposition from the Rockefeller Republicans.
Now we have the Tea Party, and as usual the GOP elite is sitting there flinty-eyed, wondering who invited these people, darling.
I tell you who I'd like to reach out to: the people like my friend that believe in personal responsibility but buy the line that all the problems of the world are caused by insurance companies and greedy bankers. He thinks that Romney's Bain Capital was all about looting.
How do I convince this friend that today's insurance companies are the result of politicians trying to game the health care system and that greedy bankers are a direct result of politicians trying to give out home mortgages to people with lousy credit.
How do you reach out to people convinced that a teenaged boy going rapidly to the dark side is a sweet innocent? And how can you persuade people to vote for personal responsibility when their immediate economic interest is obviously better served by more government free stuff?
You don't. You can't. What you can do is run in 2014 and 2016 on corruption and IRS tyranny and "time for a change," and you wait to be surprised by the next totally spontaneous social-political movement that starts to roil the Beltway Republicans with their silly costumes and their earnest agenda. You'll know it's the real thing when Nancy Pelosi starts mumbling about AstroTurf.
How about a movement of conservative women burning up the nation with love and marriage and children because they can't take free sex, free abortion, and years of infertility treatments any more? Or a movement of homeschooling mothers that can't take the government education system any more? Or a movement of climate deniers that can't take political suck-up science any more?
Hmm. Things aren't as bad as we think.
Too often, we conservatives get transfixed by the cunning of the opposition. How cunning of Democrats to import, in the illegal immigrants from Mexico, a whole new Democratic base. How cunning to seduce a generation of Julias into a life of government dependency. How cunning to sell young heads full of mush into a lifetime of student debt. How cunning of Obama and Holder to transfix the black community with a vision of a young innocent life cut short. We ought to reach out!
Except that Saddam Hussein was the most cunning man that ever lived, and look what happened to him.
Now here comes Ross Douthat advising the Republican Party that it has only figured out one third of the recipe for political victory.
What it lacks, for now, is the self-awareness to see how it falls short of its own ideal, and the creativity necessary to transform its self-conception into victory, governance, results.
Perhaps the party should reach out.
But really, in July 2013 who has a clue what will win the future? Think Ronald Reagan back in July 1977 or Bill Clinton in July 1989.
The fact is that politics is mostly a tale of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Until it does.
Christopher Chantrill (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us. At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism. Get his Road to the Middle Class.