Some delightful naivete from Rolling Stone’s Chris Thompson on why the GOP’s racial barricade strategy is “doomed to fail” needs to be tempered by some cold, harsh reality. First, Thompson’s premise:
Two decades of immigration and changing demographics have steadily eroded the Republican base in the Golden State. But rather than adapt to this new reality, the state party lurched deep into the far-right swamplands of American politics. As the state grew more socially liberal, the last of the Republicans doubled down on conservatism, and sank into irrelevancy.
But this is no local story. What happened in California is just beginning to happen all over the country. The GOP’s most reliable supporters are increasingly crammed into the South and the Midwest, energized by an ever more embattled sense of grievance and cultural alienation, while the rest of the country becomes younger, more multicultural, and more socially liberal. This trend is only going to accelerate, and unless Mitt Romney and his colleagues come to their senses and find a way to reverse it, the GOP is looking at a generation in the electoral wilderness.
And Republicans will have done it to themselves. Just like they did in California.
That’s the way it would work in the movies. Here in reality, the Republicans realize they can’t change demographics, so they are making it as impossible as they can for those changing demographics to actually have that effect. Here in reality, House incumbents win 85% of the time and Senate ones do even better. Every ten years, districts are rebooted to remove competition and concentrate the competitive races into one or two districts per state at best.
Secondly, Thompson’s own Rolling Stone colleague Jillian Rayfield in fact has an excellent piece on voter suppression in states like Florida, where the GOP there is simply going to change the rules and keep as many minorities and poor from voting, and count on the Supreme Court that gave us Citizens United to make the final call in their favor that the Voting Rights Act and National Voter Registration Act are antiquated and unnecessary in 2012. I suggest he read it, because it’s the road map to how changing demographics don’t mean a damn thing, especially in the short term.
And finally, what the first two reasons have in common are the third reason why Thompson’s scenario won’t come to pass anytime soon: more and more Republicans exercising local and state control to simply change the rules. The GOP takeover of Texas and Florida and the resulting voter purges in both states (Yes, Texas is doing it too, some 300,000 eligible voters could be kicked off the rolls) are working as intended: the fewer people that are allowed to vote, the better the Republicans do.
In California, the state may be blue, but the Republicans have managed to make it all but impossible for the state to ever raise taxes thanks to a 2/3rds majority or a statewide referendum necessary to do so, assuring that the bluest state in the nation has to make exactly the kind of draconian cuts that Republicans would make if they were in charge. Witness Gov. Jerry Brown all but beg taxpayers to approve the latest tax measures through the ballot initiative system that the GOP has deftly manipulated (hello Prop 8!) or face billions more in cuts in schools, Medicare, state services and employee layoffs. Republicans are winning here by a scorched Earth default, and if anything they want to copy the success of California in the other states.
If other populous blue states are reduced to the state California is in right now, then yes, Republicans will take that as a win, and if red states like Texas can remain blood red through voter suppression, well they’ll take that too. The real problem is the GOP takeover in state after state, systematic and devastating, in district after district, county after county. They have the funding and the networking and the outrage necessary to make it so that even if the state goes blue, it will be in such a financial catastrophe when the Democrats get control that voters will simply consider giving it back to the Republicans just to make the nightmare stop.
One party is playing by the rules. The other one is playing to destroy them. Guess who’s winning in the long run if things keep us as is? If California, Illinois, New York and New England are the only blue states left because the GOP has made it impossible for Dems to win or even to vote, who’s coming out on top?
Here’s a hint: it’s not the Donks. Wake up and smell the ashes, man.
Zandar is ABLC's Cincinnati-area correspondent, covering Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana politics and all the nearly endless unintentional comedy the Tri-State area brings. He's proprietor of Zandar vs. The Stupid, where he's been blogging since 2008, and you can also find him at Balloon Juice and The Reaction as a contributor, or you can yell at him on Twitter at @ZandarVTS.
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