Repub­li­can Party: Too old, too white and too male

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Al Car­de­nas

Repub­li­cans did not win in 2012 be­cause we are too white, too male and too old. Some still don’t want to face the truth that we lost be­cause the fastest-grow­ing sec­tors of our pop­u­la­tion are en­trenched in the Demo­cratic Party. We did not win be­cause Repub­li­cans failed to ac­knowl­edge this re­al­ity and move for­ward fear­lessly. If that doesn’t change, we will not just be com­mit­ting po­lit­i­cal mal­prac­tice. It will be po­lit­i­cal sui­cide.

This does not mean we should aban­don our con­ser­va­tive prin­ci­ples. As the chair­man of the Amer­i­can Con­ser­va­tive Union, I un­der­stand that we are a cen­ter­right coun­try. We con­ser­va­tives do not need to change our be­liefs, but we do have to change the way we mar­ket and talk about them.

The 2008 losses were ex­pected. We had had eight years of a Repub­li­can ad­min­is­tra­tion, the wear and tear of di­vi­sion within our ranks, and a Repub­li­can nom­i­nee whose strength was not the econ­omy. The econ­omy pre­dictably was the fo­cus af­ter an un­prece­dented melt­down oc­curred in the fi­nal stages of that elec­tion.

Up un­til Elec­tion Day 2012, we fully ex­pected to win. Af­ter a dis­mal four years eco­nom­i­cally, Pres­i­dent Obama seemed to be the most vul­ner­a­ble in­cum­bent since Jimmy Carter. But the Nov. 6 elec­tions re­sulted in one dis­ap­point­ment af­ter an­other, leav­ing con­ser­va­tives an­gry, be­wil­dered and un­sure about where we go from here.

We heard from high-pro­file GOP guests that the “far right” — code word for con­ser­va­tives — was at fault. Really? How did vot­ers re­spond to a con­ser­va­tive mes­sage in 2010? Tak­ing back the House speaks for it­self. More­over, a read­ing of the RNC’s plat­form showed a clear con­ser­va­tive con­sen­sus. For many in our camp, even that was not enough to unite us.

“Es­tab­lish­ment” mem­bers of our party blamed con­ser­va­tives for our fail­ure to reach out to the “mid­dle.” In that case, why did Mitt Rom­ney win the ma­jor­ity of in­de­pen­dent vot­ers? Repub­li­can di­vi­sions could be partly to blame, but the ques­tion still re­mains: Why did we really lose?

Mr. Obama is the only in­cum­bent in Amer­i­can his­tory to have been re-elected with fewer votes than in his ini­tial elec­tion. His weak stand­ing should have cre­ated an op­por­tu­nity for a GOP-Rom­ney win in spite of all the self-praise Democrats are heap­ing on one an­other. The re­al­ity is that Repub­li­cans failed to re­cruit vot­ers from grow­ing de­mo­graph­ics and con­cen­trated too heav­ily on the old, white and male pop­u­la­tions.

Mr. Rom­ney re­ceived 59 per­cent of the white vote on elec­tion night. That’s the high­est per­cent­age of any Repub­li­can can­di­date chal­leng­ing an in­cum­bent pres­i­dent in U.S. his­tory — in­clud­ing Ron­ald Rea­gan — ac­cord­ing to exit-polling data. That re­li­ably Repub­li­can con­stituency will con­tinue to de­crease rapidly as a per­cent­age of the over­all vote. In fact, whites are pro­jected to be 68 per­cent of the vote in 2016 and to be­come the mi­nor­ity vote in our coun­try by the 2020s.

The great­est gains to be had are with Lati­nos — the fastest­grow­ing vot­ing bloc in our coun­try.

In fact, 23.7 mil­lion His­pan­ics were el­i­gi­ble to vote in 2012, and most of them were young vot­ers.

When you con­sider that 1 out of 5 Amer­i­cans to­day and one-fifth of all chil­dren in pub­lic schools are His­panic, it is easy to rec­og­nize the im­por­tance of this com­mu­nity in dis­cus­sions about elec­toral pol­i­tics.

A de­mo­graphic break­down of this com­mu­nity is promis­ing to con­ser­va­tives: More than 3 mil­lion His­pan­ics are small-busi­ness own­ers, more than 120,000 are serv­ing in our mil­i­tary, and a ma­jor­ity bring with them a strong faith — in­clud­ing an evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tian and Catholic sup­port sys­tem.

Many in our con­ser­va­tive move­ment see the 2012 elec­tions as the be­gin­ning of the end of Amer­i­can ex­cep­tion­al­ism and the dawn of the sure de­cline of our civ­i­liza­tion. I dis­agree. Far too many Amer­i­cans have given the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice to pre­serve our na­tion and move the great Amer­i­can ex­per­i­ment for­ward.

I am not giv­ing up — and nei­ther should you. Al Car­de­nas is chair­man of the Amer­i­can Con­ser­va­tive Union.

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