How’s that anti-gay agenda working out? Not so well. Olson points out that, despite a concerted effort to appeal to all those church-going minorities who are supposed to despise gays and social liberalism, they garner no votes.
We’ve now been hearing the Social Conservative Minority Realignment Thesis for at least twenty if not thirty years. It became popular around the 1980s, the era in which organized religious conservatives began throwing around major weight in the GOP. And after two decades or more we’re entitled to ask: does it work? For years, conservative politicos have been frantically clearing the runways and waving at every dot on the horizon. Shouldn’t the realignment planes have started landing by now?
In other words, the black precincts in [Prince George’s County, MD] with the strongest inclination toward social conservatism, as measured by their sentiments on gay marriage, gave Republican candidates a vote percentage more often associated with Libertarian candidates and rounding errors.
Olson prescribes a sensible approach for future campaigns, but one that I think will never work:
Suppose the party were to drop its odd view of minority voters as motivated mostly by (and in favor of) social conservatism. It might instead choose to appeal to them on the same grounds as other citizens; that is, by emphasizing questions of fiscal soundness, better grasp of national defense and the needs of small business, and other historic themes from the long-past Nixon-Eisenhower era when Republicans used to do better with the minority vote. Alternatively (or in addition), it might resolve to listen to what minorities actually say about why they view the parties the way they do, perhaps with a special ear to the voices of younger voters who might be more open to rethinking old political habits.
The reason that won’t work is that black, illiterate, uneducated 37-year-old grandmothers know full well that they’re not going anywhere, ever, if they have to rely on their skills and value as an employee. What appeal does the fiscal soundness of the nation as a whole or a strong national defense have to a woman living in a shitty apartment with two more generations of just-as-illiterate descendants (latest survey shows 92% of all “graduates” of Buffalo’s public schools can’t read, period) who need new Nikes? Only a beneficent government, one strong enough to wrest from others and give to them, is going to make a material difference in their lives, and they know it. Illiterate and uneducated, yes; stupid, no.
But writing off the black vote, inevitable as it is, and focusing on other voters won’t accomplish anything either. I saw a poll earlier this week showing that a majority of voters who identify themselves as Republicans want no increase in taxes and no cuts in Medicare, Social Security or any other entitlement programs. In other words, what regressives have been attempting to do since they first elected FDR is within sight: the majority of Americans expect and demand that someone else provide for them. Hell, some people have grown so helpless that they cheer when the government promises to press the mute button on their TV so they can be spared the effort.
Three hundred years to build this nation, seventy years to tear it down. I give it another thirty before that destruction is complete, not necessarily because I think we’ll last that long but because one hundred is a nice round number to remember – future historians will appreciate our effort to make it easier for them.