Saturday, August 3, 2013

Can the GOP be a relevant national party again

Having lost the popular vote in five out of the last six elections, things aren't exactly rosy for the GOP.  The Grand Old Party just aint what it used to be, and things aren't looking any brighter in the near future.

Yesterday, the Republicans did their Don Quixote impression for the 40th time when the House voted, yet again, to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare.)  Their action is only symbolic, because their measure won't even make it on the Senate calendar, and even if it did President Barack Obama would be sure to veto any bill that attempts to destroy his signature accomplishment.

The votes to repeal Obamacare are emblematic of the GOP's problem, they are all symbolic and with no substance.  We get it, GOP, you hate Obamacare, but just saying "no" is not a governing philosophy.

The only reason the GOP still even controls the House is, because they used their control of various state legislatures to gerrymander districts to disproportionately represent their true support across those states.  Pennsylvania is the perfect example.

Despite more than 100,000 Pennsylvanians voting for Democratic Congressional candidates in 2012, The GOP outnumber Democrats in the Pennsylvania delegation 13 to 5.  Pennsylvania is not alone.  Nationwide, the Democrats outpolled the GOP by just under a million votes, yet the Republicans won 34 more seats.

While the GOP can stack the deck in their favor in the House, the same is not true in the Senate, unless the GOP is successful in repealing the 17th Amendment which provides for the direct election of United States Senators.  There has been some clamor among the more virulent GOPers to return to the day when the State Legislatures selected Senators.  Then the GOP would control the Senate.

One of the major problems the GOP faces is hero worship by its base of the rhetoric of Ronald Reagan.  Reagan ranted against big government and high taxes.  He also paid lip service to many of the social conservative issues.  Unfortunately for the GOP, rhetoric of the 1980s doesn't play well in the second decade of the 21st Century.

The American people have become comfortable with the entrenched social welfare programs which the GOP have been fighting since the Presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. They also want their roads paved and their bridges repaired, and they realize that all government regulation is not bad.  It turns out that clean air and water and food you can eat that doesn't kill you are popular things.

The demographics are also killing the GOP.  The GOP has become a party of old, white men, and that demographic has been becoming a smaller and smaller part of the electorate. Women, the young, and most minorities are voting more and more Democratic and conservative Ronald Reagan rhetoric isn't going to win many votes in these fast growing demographic areas.

The average age of FOX news (the propaganda arm of the GOP) viewers is 66 years old, and their viewership among the 25 to 55 viewing demographic has dropped dramatically. As PoliticUSA put it, "In the long term Fox execs have to figure out some way to get non-senior citizens to watch or the network’s viewership will literally die off. Fox News either has to attract younger viewers, or hope that advancements in medical science push the average life expectancy to 90."

Throughout the history of the United States, political parties have reinvented themselves and risen from the ashes, but other parties have faded into the dustbin of history.  At their current pace, the GOP looks like reinvention is not the preferred option.