Remember “The Poseidon Adventure?” This 1970s film dramatizes the events after a large passenger ship is capsized by a 90-foot ocean wave. The ship’s captain didn’t see it in time to take action. That’s the way I see today’s Republican Party, facing a giant electoral wave that they either don’t see coming or are choosing to ignore. No doubt the GOP will suffer a Poseidon-like fate when it hits — unless they’re planning to prevent it.
Just look where GOP support lies and which demographic comprises its base. Well, let’s see. Republicans aren’t very popular in urban areas – where the good jobs are — and their votes come substantially from older, white men – who won’t live forever. In the 2018 midterms they lost substantial support from suburban women. Gee, I wonder why? Could it be the blatant misogyny of President Trump and his supporters?
Instead of seeking solutions to immigration issues — as the GOP autopsy of the 2012 presidential election suggested — Republicans doubled down on blocking reform and denigrating immigrants. Trump and his close advisor Stephen Miller are attempting to hang a giant “Keep Out” sign on the Statue of Liberty. And rather than find a place for minorities in their congregation, they work diligently on ways to suppress their votes.
Few things in life are certain but here’s one that is: Not one more person will ever be born in 2018. While that fact is laughingly obvious, it has some rather profound implications. It ensures that the number of U.S. citizens eligible to cast their first vote in 2036 is more or less set. But the number of nonwhite babies born in the U.S. has exceeded white babies in recent years. This demographic predicts that in a few decades white people in the U.S. will be in the minority. Since a majority of nonwhites typically vote for Democrats, that doesn’t bode well for the GOP.
Millennials are the generation of Americans born between 1981 and 1996. They are 83.5 million strong according to U.S. Census data examined by the Center for Generational Kinetics. This large, influential group now exceeds the 75.4 million baby boomers who form a significant part of the Republican base. So, as these older folks pass on, they will be replaced by a much different group of voters.
Census data also reflects that 44.2 percent of millennials are minorities or part of an ethnic group, more than twice the number in the over 65 cohort. This increasing diversity of the American population is not encouraging for Republicans either.
Surveys of millennials and the following Generation Z — even those who identify as Republican – show they are much more tolerant and not as religious as their forefathers. This indicates that the social issues that attract older generations to the GOP, like abortion and gay marriage, are not a big concern to the younger voters who will take their place.
Well, maybe Republicans can garner the support of these newcomers with their policies. The GOP favors tax cuts for the wealthy, greatly reduced federal health care benefits, smaller government, weak environmental regulations, elimination of abortion and a gun in every pocket. And many Republicans oppose marriage equality, LGBT rights and liberal immigration policies. Hmm, I think the Republican National Committee needs to read a recent Pew Research report and some polls.
Pew’s results show a significant majority of Gen Z and millennials think government should do more to solve problems and that increased racial/ethnic diversity is good for society. They aren’t concerned about same-sex or interracial marriage and they are more likely to believe climate change is caused by human activity. A recent Fox News survey showed 70 percent of Americans favor higher taxes on the rich, including 54 percent of Republicans.
But these two generations are facing some significant financial problems due to student loans and credit cards. According to an NBC News/GenForward survey, a quarter of millennials are over $30,000 in debt, 11 percent face debt of over $100,000 and only 22 percent are debt free. On top of this, they will be left to pay off the massive national debt, either with higher taxes or decreased federal benefits.
To make matters worse, American workers below the age of 50 are facing ever-decreasing job opportunities due to automation and artificial intelligence. Cutting health care and other government benefits to provide tax cuts for the wealthy won’t resonate with these voters.
So, the current demographics and more liberal voter attitudes could mean that Republicans will be struggling to remain relevant in a decade or two. Ah, but they may have a plan.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is attempting to pack the federal courts with as many right-wing judges as he can. If he can put one more Trump-appointed justice on the Supreme Court, conservatives can still hold sway for a generation or more.
Meanwhile, Republican-controlled states have raised gerrymandering and voter suppression to an artform. They’re trying to tilt the playing field in their favor by changing the rules and subverting democratic processes. And with Trump as president, they have a leader who believes independent democratic institutions like the Justice Department should protect and defend him instead of the Constitution.
Yes, younger generations threaten the GOP. But beware — with their policies in decline and their base waning, Republicans will ruthlessly attempt to retain power and endanger our democracy.