In Slate, David Weigel calls attention to the failure of mainstream conservative scribes like Ross Douthat and David Frum to predict the stunning revival of the Republican Party.
Douthat’s book “Grand New Party” advocated taking the “big government conservatism” of George W. Bush and Karl Rove and giving it coherence and sustainability.” Frum’s book “Comeback: How Conservatism That Can Win Again” argued for a “broad national coaltion” in which extremists would be “sidelined” by moderates.
Neither vision panned out.
Michael Steele’s “hip hop makeover” of the Republican Party, which included the laughable “What Up” blog and the multicultural redesign of GOP.com, was a dismal marketing failure with blacks. Similarly, Karl Rove and George W. Bush dreamed of an Anglo-Hispanic coalition that never materialized.
White Nationalists were equally mistaken about the trajectory of the Republican Party. The Far Right didn’t anticipate the Tea Party. Most White Nationalists assumed the GOP would continue its long muddled drift to the Left.
In hindsight, much of what is going on today was entirely predictable, and represents a continuation of long term trends. A few recent news items shed considerable light on what is really going on here.
1.) In The Los Angeles Times, a Gallup poll breaks down Barack Obama’s approval rating: 91% of blacks support him, 55% of Hispanics, and 36% of Whites. By region, 52% of Easterners, 45% of Midwesterners and Westerners, and 41% of Southerners.
Moral of the story: Obama has lost White voters in South, West, and Midwest and is only breaking even with them in the East.
2.) John Raese has climbed ahead of Joe Manchin in the West Virginia Senate race. The West Virginia GOP will be planting 2,500 yard signs that simply read “Obama Says ‘Vote Democrat” in this election cycle.
In West Virginia, Obama receives his third highest negative approval rating, a Jacksonian Democrat state full of working class Whites that Bill Clinton twice carried.
Moral of the story: Obama’s dismal unpopularity with Jacksonian Democrats in West Virginia is dragging down Joe Manchin who is a popular governor.
3.) In 2010, only 20% of Americans trust the government “to do the right thing all or most of the time.” After Watergate, the number was 36%. When Eisenhower was president, 76% of Americans trusted the government.
Moral of the story: The federal government has suffered a catastrophic collapse of legitimacy among someone. Who?
4.) In The New York Times, the growing ranks of Independent voters are disgusted by a general sense of malaise in America, not only by the terrible economy.
Moral of the story: The decline of legitimacy in established institutions like Congress and the mass media seems to have deeper causes.
5.) A recent Third Way study shows that liberals comprise only 20% of the electorate. Conservatives are 42% of the electorate. There has been a shift to the Right over the past several years that has come at the expense of liberals and moderates.
Moral of the story: Blacks, Jews, Hispanics, Asians, SWPLs, and homosexuals comprise most of the “liberal” category. The vast majority of Whites are “conservatives” and “moderates.” Obama’s liberal base is too small to make of the atrophy of White conservatives and moderates that are abandoning the Democratic Party.
6.) Now here’s the most revealing story of all:
Working class Whites account for 4 out of 10 voters. A new AP-GfK poll shows that this group now favors Republican candidates 58% to 36% – a 22% margin.
In 2008, working class White broke for Republican congressional candidates by 11% margin. In 2006, Republicans had a 9% edge.
Most of these working class Whites live in the North, Midwest, and Upper South where, as I have repeatedly argued (Jacksonian America, Midwestern Meltdown, Decline in the Dakotas), they are moving into the Republican Party and tipping the scales of power toward the energized conservative base.
The GOP establishment has done everything within its power to alienate White voters and reach out to non-White minorities. In spite of this, the Republican Party is slowly being transformed into the White Party. “Heartland America” is taking shape.
In Permanently Blue, I predicted this would happen. Democratic gains among non-Whites will be offset by much larger Republican gains among Whites. The White vote will consolidate over time. Polarization will eventually drive the “Blues” in the Republican Party into the Democratic Party; the “Reds” in the Democratic Party into the Republican Party.
White Americans will start thinking of themselves as “outsiders.” As non-Whites grow in numbers, they will become more assertive, and White racial consciousness will revive. The legitimacy of established institutions will continue to erode. This erosion will come exclusively from the White side of the electorate.
Two decades from now, America will likely be browner around the edges, teetering on the precipice of bankruptcy (it is really already there), and more racially polarized that it is today. By that time, the “WASP nest” in the Heartland will have transformed the GOP into the “White Party,” which will contend with the “Non-White Party” which will be the Democratic Party.
The David Frums and Ross Douthats of the world won’t see that one coming either.