Another Kind of Polarization?

In a column justt before the South Carolina primary, David Brooks relayed a number of conversations with Republican primary voters. His treatment of them was what one might expect of the always civil Brooks–sympathetic and respectful.

But one line in particular struck me.  After commenting on the nostalgia expressed by several voters, Brooks noted that such sentiments–however understandable–make for “an incredibly backward-looking campaign. I sometimes wonder if the Republican Party has become the receding roar of white America as it pines for a way of life that will never return.”

As if to underline that observation, yesterday a number of people posted to Facebook an exit poll that broke down the composition of the GOP primary electorate–how many males, how many females, how many who self-identified as Evangelical, etc.

South Carolina is 26% black. The racial composition of South Carolina’s GOP primary voters was 99% white.

Whatever conclusions one might draw from those numbers, one seems pretty safe. In a country that continues to diversify, a political party that cannot appeal to Americans of all races and ethnicities has no future. If and when the demographics of South Carolina’s GOP reflect the demographics of the national Republican party, the party’s over.

1 Comment

  1. This is hardly surprising. This strategy in the Republican Party started with Nixon’s Southern Strategy and escalated with Ronald Reagan. Since Reagan, the Republican Party has been captured by those who seek to return to an idyllic past (that never was). Some for ideology and some from fear, but this has been the direction.

    The political philosophy textbooks refer to this as “reactionary”, a desire to return to a previous political reality. We don’t use this term in polite conversation, although it’s political opposite, “radical” is allowed. If we view this desire to hold onto, or go back, to a previous time, we can expect even more intense feelings as the reality of change becomes more apparent. Some of the intense feelings against President Obama are due to racism, but I suspect much more is due to the fact that his election is a visible demonstration that “the times they are a-changin”.

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