A family friend put me up to this short article, written by Alan Grayson. Mr. Grayson is a Democrat, and so we must take his writings with a hefty dose of salt. Nonetheless, he’s on to something. Let’s digest.
For a five-month period that ends this week, every single elected Republican in Congress was a white Christian.
Let me repeat that: every elected GOP Member of the House and Senate was a white Christian.
Now, I’m not certain of the veracity of this statement. But even if he’s wrong and a few minority Republicans existed in Congress during this period, there’s a fundamental truth here. The Republican party is on a trajectory to becoming the White Christian party.
Eric Cantor is Jewish. He left office on August 1 last year. Since then, the entire elected GOP caucus, in both the House and the Senate, has comprised only white Christians.
13% of America is African-American. 9% is of mixed race. 5% is Asian. 24% does not identify itself as Christian. 0% of those groups served as elected Congressional Republicans during the past five months.
GOP motto: “We’re monochromatic!” The GOP: Is it a political party, or is it a tribe?
Now this is where I begin to check out. The implication Mr. Grayson is making, whether or not he wants to admit it openly, is that the Republican Party is racist. It’s a simple answer, but not necessarily the correct one. After all correlation does not equal causation. And it is a sort of pot, kettle, black situation for a Democrat to be lecturing Republicans on their tribal behavior. The Democrats are, after all, undisputed masters of identity politics.
Fredrick Douglass once famously said:
I am a Republican, a black, dyed in the wool Republican, and I never intend to belong to any other party than the party of freedom and progress.
The Republican party was once the party championed by Blacks, Chinese and White immigrants alike. It was the party that ended slavery. It was the party of the North, not the South. So what changed?
Larry Elder, in his book 10 Things You Can’t Say In America gives us a clue. Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society came on the heels of the Civil Rights era. Political identities were in flux in this era. The Republican dominance of the Black community was up for grabs. Counter-culture was in full swing and Socialists were in vogue.
The Democrat hold on the South had been fading for some time. As support for Jim Crow waned, the Racists abandoned the Democrats for their own “Dixiecrat” party. Prior to this, it was the Democrat party which had pushed segregation, and the Republican party which had opposed it. A Civil War within the Democrat party ensued, between those who wanted to oppress Blacks and those who wanted to use them. Lyndon Johnson ended the rift in the Democrat party by jettisoning the Dixiecrats. But now he needed votes from somewhere else.
As Larry Elder explains in the book, Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society then introduced welfare into minority communities, in order to purchase their loyalty to the Democrats. This was necessary to replace the now-lost Dixiecrats. Libertarians and Capitalists will warn you about the dangers of the welfare state. The Black community is, perhaps, the most poignant example.
It is not commonly known, for instance, that Black income, education and marriage rates were far better in 1960 than today. Don’t mistake this as an argument for segregation, but rather as an argument against the welfare state.
What does this have to do with Republicans? Well, as the South moved away from segregation, reluctantly at first, but more genuinely later, they were attracted to the Republican party. The South had always been very conservative in its ways. Segregation was what welded them to the Democrats. That and memory of the Civil War. But both were gone, and there was no reason for them to vote Democrat any longer. The Democrats, meanwhile, had gone off the reservation and straight into Socialism. JFK was, perhaps, the last prominent conservative Democrat. Today that would be considered a contradiction. And even then, he wasn’t very conservative (just ask a Cuban).
Lyndon Johnson’s success in welding Blacks to the Democrat party was then repeated for many demographic groups. After all, it worked once, why not again? Gays, Hispanics (with the exception of Cubans), Asians (with the exception of Vietnamese exiles), in fact pretty much anyone non-White and/or non-Christian who wasn’t a refugee of Communism was courted by the Democrats. They became the masters of identity (tribal) politics. The Republican party never really found an answer to this, but the White Christians, feeling something was off about the Democrat party, stayed with the Republicans anyway.
It became the de facto White Christian party because the Democrats had successfully lured everyone else away with promises of free stuff. Blacks voted 92% Democrat in 2000. More, obviously, in 2008. In the 1920s, Blacks were voting reliably and mostly Republican. That is how successful the Democrats were. In one century they completely turned the political affiliation and ideology of an entire ethnic group.
It’s a sad state of affairs, because the message of free markets and traditional values isn’t one restricted to White Christians. Indeed, the Hispanic communities are not very distant from the White communities in this regard. I sometimes view them as the “low-hanging fruit” in racial politics. Fred Reed says something fundamentally similar in his article on Hispanic immigration. The Republicans could pluck them with relatively low effort. You could even secure the border properly, if done right. I married into a Hispanic family, and I don’t think they are very enamored of illegal immigration either. It brings in too many Socialists.
But the Republicans don’t know how to. It isn’t so much that I think Republicans are racist. Personally, I’ve felt that the Democrat policies are far more racist than the Republican ones. But the Republicans have been the party of White Christians too long to understand how to appeal to others. And that’s the real problem.
It doesn’t need to moderate its positions so much as tailor its message correctly. In fact, the Libertarian wing of the Republican party has great popular appeal, if it weren’t suppressed by the Establishment Republican old guard. The early Tea Party gained a lot of ground by identifying with this group (it lost steam later). With one swoop they could eliminate most of the common Democrat arguments against them. But they won’t, because the stodgy Old Guard elite keeps watch over the thing. They work hard to ensure nothing really changes. I’m not sure they even want to win. They are content as Fabian Socialists, low-fat Democrats, RINOs, whatever you want to call them.
Mr. Grayson intended this as a hit piece on Republicans, I’m sure. And don’t misunderstand me, I’m not enamored with the party either (although I like Mr. Grayson’s party even less). But, in truth, it could be used as a roadmap back to relevance.
I’m sure that wasn’t his intention, of course.