Top Republican Strategist: "A GOP ice age is on the way"

Friday, June 12, 2009

The headline of this diary begins with the words, "Top Republican Strategist." Now, some of you might be asking yourselves, "WHAT top Republican strategist?" and you'd have a point. Frankly, there aren't too many rocket scientists in this bunch. Having said that, I do not mean it as a backhanded compliment when I refer to Mike Murphy as a "top Republican strategist." In March 2007, I actually was on a panel at Harvard's Institute of Politics right before Mike Murphy's panel (with Democratic counterpart Joe Trippi). Aside from being hilarious, I can definitively attest to the fact that Mike Murphy is a super-smart cookie. When he talks, I definitely believe he's worth listening to. Well, now he's talking (at Time Magazine, and it's not a pretty picture for Republicans. Here's an excerpt:
...I've made a career out of counting votes, and the numbers tell a clear story; the demographics of America are changing in a way that is deadly for the Republican Party as it exists today. A GOP ice age is on the way.

Demographic change is irritating to politicos, since it works on elections much as rigged dice do on a Las Vegas craps table: it is a game changer. For years, Republicans won elections because the country was chock-full of white middle-class voters who mostly pulled the GOP lever on Election Day. Today, however, that formula is no longer enough.
Whether it's young voters ("Obama won voters under 30 by a record 33 points">, Latino voters (Murphy notes that the #1 name for new male babies in Texas is now Jose), or (I would add) gay voters, women voters, African American voters, Asian American voters, secular voters, suburban voters, etc., Murphy argues that Republicans are hurting big time. What to do about this situation? Fortunately for us Democrats, "Rather than face up to all this, too many in the GOP are stuck in a swoon of nostalgia." According to Murphy, that's not tenable. Instead, what Murphy prescribes is the following:

*"Young voters need to see a GOP that is more socially libertarian, particularly toward gay rights."

*"The pro-life movement can still be a central part of the GOP--it has support among all ages (and a slim majority of Latino voters)--but the overall GOP view on abortion must aggressively embrace the big tent."

*"Latinos need to see a quick end to the Republican congressional jihad on immigration." (as Murphy notes, "Illegal immigrants can't vote. Their children will.")

Given that I believe our country is best served by the existence of two healthy, sane political parties (right now we have one - the Democratic Party; the other has gone completely off the deep end), I'd add a few more suggestions to what Murphy advocates:

*Stop denying human-caused climate change and come up with market solutions to solving the problem. For instance, Republicans could push a revenue neutral carbon tax (hint: slash the payroll tax), then let the market do its thing.

*Stop perverting and denying science and empirical evidence on a wide variety of issues, ranging from evolution to (as mentioned above) climate change to stem cell research. Being the "know nothing"/"flat earth" party of Sarah Palin, Tom Coburn, James Inhofe, etc. will not get you anywhere with anyone who has half a brain or has ever studied biology, chemistry, physics, or just about anything else.

*Re-discover your roots as the Teddy Roosevelt Progressive and reform party. Ancient history, you say? Remember, Ross Perot helped defeat George HW Bush in 1992 and 1996 running on a serious reform platform. And no, "progressive" is NOT a synonym for "liberal;" it means making progress on a whole host of areas, not being mindlessly reactionary as the Republican Party is today.

*Return to the internationalist post-World War II Republican foreign policy views of Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, etc. - engage with other nations; never fear to negotiate or negotiate out of fear, as JFK said; stop demonizing huge swaths of humanity (e.g., Islam); be willing to use force but also diplomacy and all other tools available to us, not the least of which is our moral beacon to the world (tarnished under Bush/Cheney at Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, and secret prisons where we disgraced ourselves by using medieval torture techniques such as "waterboarding").

*Finally, stop with the hysterics and demagoguery (e.g., accusing Democrats of "socialism" or Barack Obama of being like Vladimir Putin, as Eric Cantor did yesterday); it will get you nowhere except make all reasonable Americans think you're nutjobs.

In the end, if the Republican Party wants to avoid an electoral ice age, it will move in the direction outlined above. If it doesn't want to listen, perhaps another party will rise up and take its place. Either way, it's Republicans' choice. We'll see if they're up to the challenge or not.