November 27, 2010
The GOP and Race
An op-ed piece in the November 10 issue of the Wall Street Journal entitled "The GOP‘s Racial Challenge" has been troubling me since I read it. The author, Zolton Hajnal, a faculty member at the University of California, San Diego, makes a veiled charge that the Republican Party's strategy for winning elections is inherently racist. But let's allow Professor Hajnal to speak for himself.
Lost in the GOP's euphoria over its landslide midterm victory is the fact that the Republican Party has almost become a whites-only party. Its strategy may win seats now, but it will lose over the long run.Republicans won big in 2010 primarily because they won big among white voters ...The problem for Republicans is two-fold. First, whites may currently be the majority but they are a declining demographic. The proportion of all voters who are white has already declined to 75% today from 94% in 1960. By 2050, whites are no longer expected to be a majority of the U.S. population.Second, Republicans are alienating racial and ethnic minorities - the voters who will ultimately replace the white majority and who [sic] they need to stay in power. In every national election in the past few decades, Democrats have dominated the nonwhite vote...Republicans thus face a real dilemma. They may be able to gain over the short term by continuing their current strategy of ignoring or attacking minorities. But that is short-sighted.Over the long term - as white voters become a smaller and smaller fraction of the electorate ... any campaign that appeals primarily to whites will be doomed.
Hajnal's charge is "veiled" because he doesn't come right out and accuse the Republicans of adopting a blatantly racist strategy. But his implication is clear -- even though he never identifies any specific Republican policy or platform that should appeal solely to whites while alienating blacks, Latinos, or Asians. It's almost as if just being a Republican puts anti-minority strands into one's DNA, and according to Hajnal, Republicans had better shed that strand if they wish to remain electorally viable. The charge is a canard -- and reprehensible. I am surprised that the WSJ published the piece.
Furthermore, Hajnal has, apparently without realizing it, advanced an opinion that is demeaning and condescending to America's non-white citizens. For exactly what were the policies and platforms that garnered victory for so many Republican candidates in the just-concluded election? The Democrats (from Obama down) won't acknowledge them -- likely because they do not comprehend the election's meaning -- but the Republican positions that the electorate found appealing were the following:
- Government spending is out of control; the gargantuan federal deficit is a mortal threat to our economy -- indeed, to the Republic -- and it must be brought under control.
- Governmental intervention in the people's lives -- via excessive regulation, high taxes, and radical (judicial and bureaucratic) social engineering -- is far beyond acceptable and must be reversed.
- Government bailouts, union favoritism, crony capitalism, and creeping socialism are also threats to our society and must cease.
- The denigration of America's role in the world (e.g., the denial of American exceptionalism) by the president and other Democratic leaders is unacceptable, fundamentally contrary to the people's belief in America as a force for good in the world, and insulting to our history.
Now what in heaven's name does any of that have to do with the race or ethnicity of an individual who subscribes to -- or refutes -- those views? Nothing! If it is indeed true that such views are adopted by a higher percentage of whites than by any non-white community, then that would be sorry testimony to the fact that too many of our minority citizens would have succumbed -- through generations of brainwashing -- to the siren songs of government handouts, victim advocacy, and a laissez-faire culture. One of the minority communities that has succumbed is the Jewish community (78% for Obama in 2008). (Full disclosure: I am a member of that community, although I like to think that I have been inoculated.) The last time I looked, most of the Jews in America were white.
Contrary to Hajnal's assertion, the GOP has no racial challenge. The challenge belongs to America's minority communities and to the remnant in America who have an appreciation for the United States' historic greatness and a devotion to maintaining the freedom that allowed that greatness to emerge. The challenge for the latter is to expand their appreciation and devotion to all segments of the American populace; the challenge for the former is to shed the blinders that have kept them tethered to a statist, collectivist philosophy and to recognize that, while very far from perfect, the GOP has a much better chance than the Democrats of restoring the American commitment to personal freedom, free enterprise, traditional culture, and economic prosperity.