Pup Tent

Charlie Cook writes:

At a time when Republicans should be starting to think about how they can expand their party to reclaim those who abandoned it, the party is instead lurching ever more to the right, exacerbating its problems. Many people who watched the recent debate between contenders for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee came away thinking that the only memorable moments were when each candidate expressed love and devotion for Ronald Reagan and when all but one bragged about how many guns they own. Not to belittle the importance of Reagan’s iconic status or the Second Amendment, but when the only takeaways are about the importance of a political figure who last won an election a quarter-century ago and how big a person’s arsenal is, these guys are not hot prospects to chair the GOP’s Welcome Wagon, much less to lead the party out of its wilderness.

[Emphasis mine]

And TPM reports:

The Politico reports that South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson has publicly traced his political coming of age to the civil rights movement — that is, opposition to 1960’s busing policies. “Government reached into my life and grabbed me and shook me at the age of 15,” Dawson told a University of South Carolina audience in 2003.

The star of this particular show has been Chip Saltsman, who sent out a CD to committee members containing a song called “Barack the Magic Negro.”

[Emphasis added]

The GOP isn’t a big tent–they’re a pup tent, and they’re shrinking by the day.

In recent decades, the Republican Party has won by catering strongly to a certain demographic of voters–mostly lower-income, less-educated whites.  They have become the Republican base and the GOP had electoral success by turning out huge numbers of those voters.

Now the GOP’s base is shrinking while the population of people maligned by the GOP in order to appeal to their base is growing.  Therein lies the paradox–the GOP narrowed their focus to appeal to their base, but their base has become so small it no wins them elections (you can read more about that here).

The Republican Party’s problems aren’t cosmetic, they’re structural.  The GOP will need to make major changes in order to make an electoral comeback; band-aids won’t work.

But almost no Republicans currently in office see this; they think hollow sloganeering and a facelift are all their party need.  How many elections will the GOP effectively cede to the Democrats before they realize they, too, need to embrace change? Or will it take an entirely new generation of Republicans to get elected before the GOP realizes that the tactics which got them elected 29 years ago don’t work anymore?