Yesterday, while on Fox News Sunday, Mitt Romney ascribed his defeat in November to his campaign’s failure to take “our message to minorities, to Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans.”
Doubtless, this is the conventional wisdom among Republicans.
As I write this, I am listening to Bill Bennett’s morning talk show. The host is speaking with City Journal’s Heather MacDonald, discussing the electoral prospects of the Republican Party.
MacDonald, to her credit, is quite sensible. Unlike many of her fellow partisans, she is well aware that it is primarily the promise of ever larger government—and little else—that lures the vast majority of blacks and Hispanics to vote for the party of Barack Obama. And, unlike her fellow Republicans, MacDonald seems to recognize the notion that her party will be able to transform legions of Hispanics and blacks into good little Republicans for the fantasy that it is.
Yet conspicuously absent from this discussion of the GOP’s woes is any mention of a painful fact that is conspicuously absent from all such discussions:
Millions of Americans who have always voted Republican refused to do so during the last two national elections.
In other words, the losses that the GOP has suffered cannot be attributed solely, or even primarily, to their abysmal showing among non-whites.
In fact, I would go even further on this score. Blacks have been voting overwhelmingly for Democrats for decades and decades, even as their percentage of the nation’s population has remained relatively stable. So, this is nothing new. Neither is it news that Hispanics vote predominantly for Democrats. It is true that Hispanics constitute a larger portion of the country’s population now than at any time during the past, but even this demographic change isn’t nearly the seismic shift that it is often made out to be. Hispanics are only about 15% ofAmerica.
The point is this: even with black and Hispanic votes against them, Republicans were winning national elections handily until very recently. The problem is not that the GOP has failed to expand its base with new non-white voters. The problem is that its base has contracted. And it has contracted because it has lost the support of millions of whites who had voted for them until the elections of 2008 and 2012.
The omission of this tidbit from conversations over the future of the GOP is glaring.
Republican politicians and commentators will eagerly flagellate themselves for failing to “do more” in the way of minority “outreach.” But they are most unwilling to acknowledge that the ranks of their party are populated mostly by whites. And they are that much less willing to speak of an outreach program to this demographic.
The irrationalities of political correctness explain this to some extent. For a fuller explanation, though, we must turn elsewhere.
For Republicans to admit that they have hemorrhaged millions of white voters is for them to admit the reasons for this. However, this is one task in which they would prefer not to engage, for when it comes right down to it, the reason for why legions of conservatives and libertarians abstained from voting for their party in ’08 and ’12 can be summed up in two words: Big Government.
Far from reducing the size and scope of the federal government, Republican reign under George W. Bush resulted in its expansion. Both domestically and, especially, internationally, the national government grew at a rate and to a size that it had never been before. Those scores of Republican voters who once turned to the GOP to protect the constitutional liberties for which their ancestors fought and died became disenchanted. They felt betrayed.
And so they refused to be treated as suckers again.
There is another point here that shouldn’t be missed.
Former Texas Congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul was treated as persona non grata by the establishment of his party. The latter paid a hefty price for this. Paul is the one national Republican figure who walked the GOP talk of “limited government.” He also commanded a significant, and intensely devoted, following. No one—not Sarah Palin, not Barack Obama—could energize a crowd like Ron Paul. Moreover, many of his followers were young voters.
Many, and maybe most, of these millions of Paul supporters were among those who sat the last election out.
If the Republicans want to be victorious once more, then they should spend more time looking within their party, and less time looking beyond it.