As our country transitions demographically to a majority non-white and secular society in the coming decades, the Republican Party will face serious challenges in remaining relevant nationally.
While the last election delivered a solid victory for conservatives, make no mistake — Republican demographics still have a serious problem in the long term.
But to many, that problem is so far in the future that’s it’s easy to ignore. Right now, President Donald Trump is cooking up executive actions that are energizing the base that brought him to power while horrifying a large plurality of Americans.
Many Republicans, including the Trump Administration, have interpreted this last election as a mandate to shake up the United States, despite losing the presidential popular vote. In reality, gerrymandering and the electoral college have been pivotal to recent Republican wins.
For Congress, even with these structural advantages, the actual statistics reveal a razor-thin advantage that could easily disappear. This is why many believe that the Republican Party’s latest triumphs largely amount to a dead cat bounce.
A dead cat bounce?
In a recent article, Techcrunch labeled the newly found power that Republicans are wielding a dead cat bounce. Typically, that’s a financial term that used to describe a “a brief and temporary recovery following severe decline” that inspires false hope. The recovery soon fades, and the severe decline once again sets in.
Simply, just imagine a dead cat being thrown off a ledge. When it hits the ground, it’s going to bounce once. Even if observers witness an impressive bounce, that still doesn’t change the reality that said feline is a dead corpse.
That gruesome analogy seems to relevant in a demographically changing America. While the base of Republican voters is shrinking, no one knows how fast these realities will damage the GOP’s prospects. For many, this past electoral victory could be a textbook dead cat bounce.
Secular, Multiethnic America
White evangelicals are currently the centerpiece of the Republican voter base. There’s little doubt that President Trump’s victory at the ballot box occurred because of this group of voters.
The problem for Republicans is that we’ve likely reached a peak in the number of Evangelicals. Our society is growing more secular, just ask any person who works in houses of worship — attendance is way down. It’s likely not going to get any better, either.
Most industrialized countries become more secular as they get wealthier, and we’re likely going down the same path. That doesn’t bode well for a party that’s so dependent on voters who identify as practicing Christians to get elected.
Also, America will continue to grow more diverse, and many voters in the future will be multi-ethnic. Millions of people already have both White and non-White members in their family tree. They might think about race and immigration differently from today’s White voters. Think about this way: If you had a Mexican grandmother, you might view the world a little differently.
Alienating key voting blocs spells disaster
Monumental lessons from American political history should be considered by this administration.
When President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, it was rumored he said “we have lost the South for a generation.” In the same way, if President Trump’s proposed immigration overhaul is too stringent, he will sign away Hispanic voters for several generations, dooming future Republicans to unelectability.
In an America in the not-too-distant future, you will need a multi-ethnic coalition to win national elections. Alienating an important base of voters for short-term gain is a long-term disaster. Many wise Republicans already know this to be true.
Even a little bit of redistricting could reveal serious cracks in Republican Party support. The message is clear: remaining relevant involves evolving with a rapidly changing America.
It’s the economy stupid!
Republicans should take a crack at more inclusive politics. Good ideas are good ideas regardless of partisan politics. We need two strong parties in order for our political system to function properly, so a healthy Republican Party is in most Americans’ interest.
Republicans should focus on economic empowerment if they want to remain relevant amidst a rapidly changing demographic landscape. For many, that means focusing on making America’s economy great again and leaving all of the cultural baggage we saw throughout the campaign at the door.