Friday, November 29, 2019

America Isn’t Ending, But It Is Evolving

An article in the December Atlantic considered whether “a tectonic demographic shift” will manage to ruin the United States.  Yoni Appelbaum’s “How America Ends,” which printed out to 18 pages, started with the observation that “democracy depends on the consent of the losers,” and named changes we are experiencing, including that “red and blue areas have become more deeply hued” or more polarized, that political differences are now concerning parents about their children’s spouses more than religious or racial ones, and that more on each side are dehumanizing those on the other.  If you do as Appelbaum apparently did and count all Hispanics as nonwhite, you find that white Christians are no longer most voters.  He also offered the thought-provoking view that “the Republican Party has treated Trump’s tenure more as an interregnum than a revival,” and that the GOP is headed for trouble when he leaves office, which, as “conservatives… are losing faith in their ability to win elections in the future” means that our democracy could weaken.  The Republican National Committee matched that view, issuing a report between 2012 and 2016 calling for the party to cater more to Hispanics, Asians, blacks, Indians, women, and young people, who combined for nearly 75% of 2012 voters.  

Per Appelbaum, though, these are hardly the worst times our republic has seen.  The South, both before and after the Civil War, chose “countermajoritarian politics” instead of seeking support for measures from more than half of the population.  Political-related violence, while more common now than a couple of decades ago, occurred much more often then, with House of Representatives members, in their own chamber, threatening each other with guns.  Neither is the composition of the Supreme Court more uneven than ever, as it “by the 1850s had a five-justice majority from slaveholding states” – even the most avid Trump supporters do not expect 7 of the 9 justices to share their opinions.  And immigration was more restricted in the 1920s than Republicans have recently seriously proposed.  

In the meantime, Democrats have become the party of the establishment, and, along with it, the side with the wealthiest participants.  This is hardly the first time Democrats and Republicans have switched their constituencies, and points more to change than termination.  

So if Republicans are indeed in long-term trouble, how can they escape?  Here are eight ways, all of which I, as a registered one, would like to see.  First, the party needs to overtly appeal to all ages, races, religions, and ethnic groups.  Second, it needs to emphasize common sense in social issues, in such ways as backing marijuana legalization and requiring equal rights between the sexes but needing more than a momentary self-identification to use bathrooms not matching chromosomes.  Third, as our president has totally failed to do, the party platform should emphasize prudent spending while not shorting safety-net programs.  Fourth, it would profit from finding and opposing Democrat-backed views, such as heavy laws and spending on climate change, with which many middle Americans disagree.  

Fifth, Republicans should support American interest while realizing that the country is indeed changing.  Sixth, they should strive to support as many jobs as possible without mandated- benefit or high-minimum-wage encumbrances.  Seventh, it must go out of the way to show that blacks, gays, and Hispanics, to name three, are more than welcome, not only as voters but as organizers and party decision-makers.  

Eighth, when in doubt, the GOP should choose a libertarian bent.  In the article above, Appelbaum quoted political scientist Adam Przeworski saying that our party system “must give all the relevant political forces a chance to win from time to time in the competition of interests and values.”  Libertarians, of which many others are at least partial supporters, have not had theirs yet.  Freedom is as American as the Super Bowl – why not try more of it?  That, beyond almost anything else, is what our evolving, not dying, country should try. 

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