By BILL KING
New York Times News Service
We are about to find out if the Republican Party has a death wish or not. The demographic implications of last week’s election could not be more obvious. The Republicans lost virtually every emerging demographic cohort.
Its only stalwarts, older white Americans, are destined to make up a smaller percentage of the electorate, a trend that effectively is going to last forever. While we old white guys will give it our best shot, the reality is that we aren’t going to have a bunch more babies.
The absolute imperative of immigration reform is beyond debate. If Republicans do not remove this albatross from around their necks, the 27 percent of the Latino vote that went to the GOP in this election will shrink even further. You can probably attribute Republican losses in New Mexico, Colorado and Florida to this issue alone.
For Democrats, it really is a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose proposition. So Republicans, buck up and take your medicine and get immigration reform done before it can do any more political damage. It will probably take a generation to repair the damage done already.
But it is not just Latino repairs that need to be made. Republicans need to shut up about the “bedroom issues” that kill it with younger women. While more than half the country has moral reservations about abortion, a much larger percentage does not want Roe v. Wade overturned.
It is one thing to be against abortion on moral grounds; it is quite another to use the police power of the state to enforce a view held by a bare majority, at best. We should only make things criminal when there is a wide consensus that such sanctions are appropriate and necessary. And I have always believed that if abortion opponents spent as much time and effort counseling with and supporting young mothers-to-be grappling with an unwanted pregnancy as they do trying to outlaw abortion, far more unborn children would be saved.
Just how precarious the Republican position has become is best evidenced by the fact that this election should have been a lay-up. With unemployment still hovering around 8 percent and more than half the country believing that we are headed in the wrong direction, President Obama should have been toast, notwithstanding arguably the best ground game ever in politics.
I have been dismayed, but not particularly surprised, to hear a number of the old conservative warhorses insist that the reason the Romney-Ryan ticket lost is because it was not conservative enough. While the Republican ticket had a number of problems, such as the fact that many evangelicals still mistrust Mormonism, the claim that it was not conservative enough was not among them.
Whatever hope conservatives may have held out that a huge wave of center-right voters would head their way has been washed away in a demographic tsunami.
I sat in a meeting recently where two of the old-guard country-club Republicans were crossing swords with one of the handlers of newly elected U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. The contrast perfectly represented the deep division and challenge the Republican Party faces. Older, pragmatic businessmen and a young true-believer firebrand.
Listening to their banter, it was hard to see how the two sides could be reconciled. If they do not and if Republicans cannot find a way to pitch a bigger tent and do it in a hurry, the Grand Old Party is going to be the Gone Old Party.