The Republican Party today has a race neutral and culturally accommodating philosophy. What that means is that they pretend that race and culture are not major factors in determining success in America. They profess that if we all work hard, value education, discover what we want to do in life and pursue it, we could succeed. Now that makes sense. This is why I used to be a Republican. It is also a big reason why so many immigrants come to America.
Most of them have high moral values, believe in the providence of God, have strong conservative family values and seek economic freedom. Many immigrants come to this country looking for a better life for themselves and their children. They arrive sharing much of the conservative Republican values of hard work, valuing education and sharing strong family values. So there should be no problem for Republicans getting immigrants into their base right? Wrong.
Instead of reaching out to these individuals, the Republican Party has rejected them and more importantly, rejected their own philosophy of race neutrality and cultural accommodation. Most progressives will agree and also add today’s Republican Party was taken over by a very conservative fringe base of the party that has always been there. So who represents this fringe base?
To understand this fringe base we have to understand the Southern Strategy implemented by Richard Nixon. The Southern Strategy was designed to bring the Southern Democrats who implemented Jim Crow in the south, into the Republican Party in order to win national elections. When President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Southern Democrat, signed civil rights legislation in 1964, this left Southern Democrats at a loss. They did not want to vote in a party that ended Jim Crow.
Richard Nixon found a way to cater to the Southern Democrats and won the 1968 presidential election. Nixon broke the Democratic dominance in the South, turning to the Republican dominance which exists today. During Nixon’s presidency, he and most other Republicans since have tried to repeal civil rights legislation, opposed affirmative action, voted down a holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and so on.
As America becomes a majority minority country, the Republican Party is becoming a majority white party dominated by a gaggle of members who feel threatened by the changing America and have devolved back to racial and cultural intolerance and a longing for some time in the past they will never see again.
Now Republicans will deny this. The Tea Party will deny this. They also deny the Southern Strategy and say it never happened. But the evidence is in the vote. The entire south since Reconstruction has been the poorest states and has voted Democratic. Now those states are all Republican-dominated but they are still the poorest states. Knowing that we can assume they switched parties out of fear of racial equality and diversity and not fiscal responsibility like they always talk about. But you can decide that for yourself.
I am not a Democrat or a Republican. I am not part of any political party. I believe political parties do nothing but divide us and stifle critical thinking just to align with a political party. But the Democratic Party has shown they understand the complexities of race, culture and a constantly evolving society. The modern Democratic Party, whether in or out of power, has been described by coalition building and organizing.
They are more a collection of groups than a party. Not only have they shown minorities they understand there are differences in culture and ways to approach life, but they have learned how to respect those differences while sharing the common aspirations of a better quality of life for everyone. Democrats have also done a very good job of aggressively painting the Republican Party as the party of xenophobia, racism, sexism, and elitism.
Some progressive pundits say they actually show their racial bigotry, not directly but through “dog whistle” racist language on rightwing websites, blogs, and talk radio. An example of this is when presidential candidate Mitt Romney made the remark “self-deportation,” and that President Obama was making it easier for the poor and unemployed to get on welfare and collect food stamps.
Progressives say this was the old Southern Strategy back in play in the 2012 election.
Now whether you agree that the Romney campaign was engaging in this tactic or not, it did not help his campaign. President Obama swept minority voters in the largest margins we have ever seen. This past election may be the last one in which poor, middle class, rural, and evangelical whites support the Republican Party en mass.
The only way for Republicans to win in the near future, is to purge themselves of the ultra-conservative wing of their base, move to the center, and pick up minority votes. However, I think that may be a strategy that will take too long to accomplish.