Well, it’s not like they can say that they weren’t warned. The “autopsy report” following the 2012 election was both blunt, and honest. It said that the GOP, in its current iteration, was dying. It’s core constituency was mainly white, older, rural, less educated men, heavy emphasis on the older. Every year, more and more older GOP voters were finding out firsthand what “God friended me” really means, and little to no fresh, new blood was coming to replace them.
The report admitted that an overhaul of this magnitude was going to be a multi cycle undertaking, but stressed that it had to be done to save the party from extinction. It advised slowly and gently extricating the party from the far right wing Evangelicals who gave it a rather extremist religious image, as well as maintaining their core principles, but relaxing the rigidity of the orthodoxy to attract new members, as well as becoming more culturally tolerant in regards to sexual orientation and minority status. The document was a well researched, well thought out, well planned path forward for the party.
Which meant that the RNC was able to save money on the cost of Charmin for a few months. Rather than turn to the difficult path of ensuring the party’s long term viability, the GOP decided to try to squeak one more election out, win the Presidency, and start the rebuilding process in the next 8 years. I think. It’s impossible for a mind that can comprehend the purpose of shoelaces to interpret Republican thought. But instead of rebuilding from the foundation up, the GOP turned to a racist, narcissistic, 70 year old Tasmanian Devil, who promptly finished the job of demolishing the GOP’s “Big Brothers House.”
Well, if Donald Trump was supposed to be a dessert in the going away party dinner for the retiring old GOP, he turned out to be a slice of moldy pound cake, and guess what? The waiter just slid the little plastic tray with a piece of paper on it onto the table. Yep boys, the check is due.
Over the weekend on MSNBC, Voto Latino president Maria Theresa Kumar snagged my attention. In the interview, she said that their polling and statistical analysis showed that in 2020, for the first time, there would be more voters under the age of 46 than there would be voters over the age of 46. Yep, the Baby Boomer train is pulling into the terminal. The voting population is finally becoming a majority that is younger, darker, and more feminine, exactly the three demographic groups that the GOP, under the tutelage of the Tangerine Tantrum, has done everything in their power to alienate.
One would think that this wold make 2020 a walk in the park, but as with most things in life, there’s a catch. Voters under 30 tend to be the most erratic, unreliable voters since the Nikelodeon Kids Choice Awards. They are not ideology or dogma driven, eschew labels, and tend to show up only when issues that directly affect them are at stake.But younger voters also tend to be more progressive and tolerant, and mostly also still tend to believe in facts, something that the GOP ties to a stake and sets fire to a mound of branches under at every chance it gets.
In 2018, the Democrats benefited from the surge in youth participation in voting. A larg part of that driving force was the young voter outrage over, and mobilization from the persistent mass shootings at schools, spearheaded by the students at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland Florida. This was a natural fit for Democrats, who as a national party have been pushing for sensible gun reform for years, as well as having a President on the roster that actually cried at a press conference after Sandy Hook, as opposed to a party that had a president who promoted having teachers pack heat after Parkland. A barometer of the intensity of the debate was the fact that in 2018, for the first time, among people who stated gun rights as their primary driving motive in voting, more people voted for common sense gun reform than voted for unrestricted access to military armaments.
In this pitched battle for the next generation of voter dominance, the Democrats have two advantages right out of the gate. With minorities, the advantage is diversity. The beautiful ethnic panorama that was on display in the freshman class of 2018 photo on the capitol steps showed that not only do the Democrats acknowledge and accept diversity, they welcomed them as partners in the legislative and governing process. The simple fact that those members exist, and that they have house offices, ensures their communities that their needs and concerns will be raised and addressed.
On the youth voting side, the Democrats have two advantages. First, the issues. The gun debate is far from over, in fact it’s just beginning, and with a younger, more diverse Democratic led House, there is finally going to be real, measurable pushback to the lobbying dictatorship of the NRA. And with the Green New Deal, the Democrats are pushing for solutions that will impact these younger voters long after liberals like me are plucking a harp. And on the other side is a party that continues to deny climate change cuz, like, snowballs and stuff. The second advantage is in the representatives themselves. Look at what you have in the Democratic House. Young dudes, young women, brown young dudes, brown young women. People who are one step up the generational ladder, instead of people they only see at family gatherings. These younger representatives can instinctively connect with younger voters in a way that the older, more parental looking GOP incumbent candidates never will be able to do.
So, the Democrats should have a huge advantage going into 2020, but they can’t take it for granted, they have to earn it. They got the younger vote in 2018 by speaking directly to issues that concerned them, now they have to govern on those issues, to keep them stoked and motivated going into 2020, and to get them to motivate their friends. Yes, we’d like to woo back those rust belt Democrats who gave Trump “a try” in 2016, but not at the expense of the youth and minority voters we desperately need to motivate to ensure success. If we can get those minority and young voters to turn out again in 2020, it gets easier for them to identify as progressives, and to recognize the Democratic party as their home. And if we can to that, there is a very long, cold winter ahead for the GOP.
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