Saturday, November 22, 2008
GOP in trouble for years to come.
Party leaders agree that the GOP has had a rough go of it at the polls in recent years.
How could they not?
Since 2004, they've gone from 55 Senate seats to no more than 43 once this year's last winners are determined, and from a 29-seat edge in the House to a 30 seat hole. And now they've lost the presidency, too.
They differ, though, on whether the heavy losses Republicans suffered in the past two election cycles were a result of unique circumstances and the ever-swinging political pendulum or structural problems that could keep them shut out of power for years to come.
GOP officials and strategists at party conferences last week offered sharply contrasting assessments of what went wrong, and of how difficult it will be to rebuild. Perhaps not surprisingly, the split tended to fall along generational lines.
Some conservative Republicans, on the other hand, are either in denial or think they can control the problem by limiting the growth in the Hispanic immigrant population. (Just ask the 14 out of 16 hard-line, anti-immigration Republicans who lost their seats this time around to pro-comprehensive reform Democrats how well this worked at the polls.) But even if hard-liners were successful at stopping Undocumented immigration and dramatically reducing the number of Hispanic immigrants admitted legally, it wouldn't solve the simple demographic fact that U.S.-born Hispanics have higher fertility rates than whites or blacks. Hispanics will become a larger share of the population for the foreseeable future, though intermarriage rates will likely diminish their ethnic identification over time.
The first thing Republicans have to overcome is a growing belief among Hispanics that they aren't welcome in the party -- or in America for that matter. According to a recent survey by America's Voice --pro-immigrant group -- two-thirds of Hispanics think that discrimination against them has increased in the last two years because of the tone of the immigration debate. Republicans have to deal with the consequences.
Republicans have nothing to lose by taking a better approach and much to gain towards America's newest immigrants. Republicans has a big challenge ahead for years to come.