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The Future of the Conservative Movement | jonmower.com

The Future of the Conservative Movement

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I'm not talking about whether or not it's Sarah Palin.  I'm talking about the direction it (and the Republican party) will take in the wake of the Bush administration and the recent election results.  From a recent article by Philip Klein from The American Spectator titled "The Future of the Right" (link):

About two-dozen conservative leaders met today at the Stanley, Virginia home of Media Research Center President Brent Bozell in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains to discuss conservatism's future in the wake of Tuesday's election results.

TAS Publisher Al Regnery and editor in chief R. Emmett Tyrrell were on hand, along with leaders from policy groups and grassroots organizations representing each pillar of the conservative coalition, from Christian conservatives to libertarians, and everybody in between.

"As the afternoon went on, it didn't take long for attendees to become resolute in their resistance to moderates and to the opinion that the conservative movement will become the opposition to Obama," Tyrrell said.

One attendee said, "We're no longer going to support Republicans who want to 'improve' a bad bill. We're going to oppose all bad bills."

and then

Looking back at the campaign, they felt that John McCain wasn't really a conservative, and that Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber were the two best things that happened because of the way they connected with people.

In an article in the LA Times titled "The GOP looking glass", Jonah Goldberg frames the soul searching this way (link):

In one corner, there are a large number of bright, mostly younger, self-styled reformers with a diverse -- and often contradictory -- set of proposals to win back middle-class voters and restore the GOP's status as "the party of ideas" (as the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan put it).

In another corner are self-proclaimed traditional conservatives and Reaganites, led most notably by Rush Limbaugh, who believe that the party desperately needs to get back to the basics: limited government, low taxes and strong defense.

What is fascinating is that both camps seem implicitly to agree that the real challenge lurks in how to account for the Bush years. For the young Turks and their older allies -- my National Review colleagues Ramesh Ponnuru, Yuval Levin and David Frum, the Atlantic's Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, New York Times columnist David Brooks et al -- the problem is that Bush botched the GOP's shot at real reform. For the Limbaugh crowd, the issue seems to be that we've already tried this reform stuff -- from both Bush and McCain -- and look where it's gotten us.

and then:

The irony is that both camps agree on a lot more than they disagree. The reformers are committed to market principles and reducing the size and role of government, and so are the back-to-basics crowd. The problem is that an elephant named George in the room is blocking each side from seeing what the other is all about. But hopefully not for much longer.

It seems to me that the realities of electoral demographics will be critical for charting electoral success for conservatives in the coming decades.  In another LA Times article titled "Democrats set sights on Texas" (link), Peter Wallsten writes:

As they review the results of Tuesday's election victories and begin looking toward future campaigns, some Democrats have settled on a rallying cry: Texas is next.

It sounds improbable for the Republican bastion that produced President Bush and served as an early laboratory for Karl Rove's hard-nosed tactics. But Texas is one of several reliably red states that are now in Democrats' sights as party strategists begin to analyze a victorious 2008 campaign that they believe showed the contours of a new movement that could grow and prove long-lasting.

A multiethnic bloc of Latinos, blacks, young people and suburban whites helped to broaden the party's reach Tuesday well beyond its traditional base in the Northeast and the West Coast -- carrying Barack Obama into the White House and expanding the party's majorities in Congress.

That new formula was evident in state exit polls and county-level election results showing that Democrats scored gains from a voting base that is growing progressively less white than the population that helped forge Republican advantages in past elections. In state after state, from GOP strongholds like North Carolina, Indiana and Colorado, minorities made up a larger share of the vote than in the past, and in each case they helped turn states from red to blue.

and then

Latinos made up a greater share of the electorate than in the past in every Southwestern state, according to exit polls compiled by CNN. And in each Southwestern state, as well as Florida, the Democrat pulled a bigger percentage of the Latino vote -- a turnaround from 2004, when President Bush cut deeply into Democrats' hold on Latinos and won that bloc in Florida, where many Cuban Americans remain loyal to the GOP.

Projections from the US Census Bureau (link) indicate that by 2042 non-Hispanic whites will no longer represent a majority of the US population. 

Here is a summary of the projections comparing 2008 to 2050:

Population projections
  2008 2050
Non-Hispanic whites 68% 46%
Hispanic 15% 30%
African Americans 12% 15%
Asian American 5% 9%






If those projections turn out to be anywhere close to reality, it’s obvious that the Republican party's prospects will continue to decline over the next few decades if it is fairly or unfairly  stereotyped as as "anti-immigrant" or the party of white people.  Those aren't fair descriptions of the Republican party or conservative political movement as a whole, but those tendencies are there and could be exacerbated depending on the direction conservatives take in response to their recent defeats.  The nearly uniform whiteness seen among the party leaders and the crowds at the party convention illustrate the danger that it could be perceived as not a party for all of us.  This is one of the reasons that it is important that people like Bobby Jindal and Michael Steele become significant faces of the party.  Regardless, it seems that issues of changing demographics have to be given weight as the conservatives chart their course forward.

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Those projections will be

Those projections will be way off. Once the depression comes in full, and you're already seeing this now, many of the non white hispanic people will go back home. When they don't have work here, for many of them, there's no reason to stay. Those numbers were betting on the economy continuing to grow and immigration (legal, and illegal) to continue in high numbers.

I think the future of the conservative movement is Ron Paul, plain and simple. He's built the network. He's excited young people. He's got lots of folks active in the party. That's gonna be huge.

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