When in Rome, do as the Romans do. If Mark Steyn is right, and I think he is, when he suggests that America has embraced tribalism, then it’s time to go tribal.
To an immigrant such as myself (not the undocumented kind, but documented up to the hilt, alas), one of the most striking features of Election Night analysis was the lightly worn racial obsession. On Fox News, Democrat Kirsten Powers argued that Republicans needed to deal with the reality that America is becoming what she called a “brown country.” Her fellow Democrat Bob Beckel observed on several occasions that if the share of the “white vote” was held down below 73 percent, Mitt Romney would lose. In the end, it was 72 percent, and he did. Beckel’s assertion – that if you knew the ethnic composition of the electorate you also knew the result – turned out to be correct.
This is what less-enlightened societies call tribalism: for example, in the 1980 election leading to Zimbabwe’s independence, Joshua Nkomo’s ZAPU-PF got the votes of the Ndebele people while Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF secured those of the Shona – and, as there were more Shona than Ndebele, Mugabe won. That same year America held an election, and Ronald Reagan won a landslide victory. Nobody talked about tribal vote shares back then, but had the percentage of what Beckel calls the “white vote” been the same in 2012 as it was in 1980 (88 percent), Mitt Romney would have won in an even bigger landslide than Reagan. The “white vote” will be even lower in 2016, and so, on the Beckel model, Republicans are set to lose all over again.
Hence the urge to get on the right side of America’s fastest-growing demographic (Hispanics).
Over the last few years, I’ve been touting the idea that Republicans should dive into identity politics with both feet. For the most part, I’ve felt like a voice in the wilderness while I’ve been doing that. Yet, take a look at the results of this poll of conservative bloggers from last week.
5) How can the GOP most effectively reach out to Hispanic voters?
D) By financing and supporting conservative versions of groups like La Raza and MEChA to reach out on our behalf in the Hispanic community. 38.1% (24 votes)
E) By running more Spanish language ads, recruiting more Hispanic candidates and reaching out more aggressively through the RNC, NRSC, NRCC, etc. 33.3% (21 votes)
F) By continuing to do what we’re already doing and waiting for Hispanic voters to come to us. 14.3% (9 votes)
A) By offering comprehensive immigration reform or a path to citizenship for illegal aliens? 12.7% (8 votes)
B) By offering to give illegal aliens a legal status other than citizenships? 1.6% (1 votes)
People are coming around to my way of thinking on the subject — and they should. As a general rule, we’re losing black voters 90/10, Hispanic voters 70/30, Jewish voters 70/30, Asian voters 75/25, and Muslim voters 85/15.
The Democrat strategy with every one of those groups is centered around identity politics and telling them that Republicans hate them — right or wrong, good or bad; it works! But, we don’t do it because we think ideally, race and sex shouldn’t matter — except it does to everyone except us — so much so, that we get branded as racists for not wanting to segregate everyone out by race.
In a sense, politics is like business. If you run a toy company and you think the stupidest, most annoying game you’ve ever seen is Pokemon, but you can make lots of money selling Pokemon, you sell Pokemon. You do that because if you don’t, your competitors will sell Pokemon, the customers will go to their store instead and you may go out of business before everyone realizes that you’re right about Pokemon — if you are right about Pokemon.
So, the question is, do we want the Republican Party to go out of business waiting for everyone to figure out that we’re right and that race should be irrelevant? We’ve given the Democrats decades to get ahead of us, but if we start playing the same game to stop letting them have the whole field to themselves, we can close the gap faster than most people would ever think possible.