There are times in political history when we are privileged to see a new coalition forming around a charismatic leader who leads the way to a changed nation, hopefully changed for the better. We may be seeing that happen right now. The future will reveal whether Barack Obama has pulled off that feat. That happened in the 1930’s with the coalition of FDR. On the GOP side, it happened during the Reagan years. When such a political alignment takes place, the most important component is the younger generation, people who will form political opinions and voting habits that, for them, may well last a lifetime.
In the 2012 election, 19% of the electorate was composed of young people 18-29.That’s a larger percentage than either Latinos (10%) or African-Americans (15%). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to add up those three groups. That means 44% of the electorate voted for the President with at least 60% of the vote. Add in the gender gap (12%), while remembering that women make up the majority of voters, and there is a bleak future for the GOP if it doesn’t radically re-invent itself. White men can’t win elections for them any longer.
Matthew Segal, president of the younger generation advocacy group Our Time, points out that it may be a very good thing to have that generation exert a bigger influence in elections. He says that younger Americans are “pragmatic,” having moved past some of the “ridiculous political discourse going on today.”
“Growing up in a technological era, we trust science and data. Denying climate change, denying facts about abortion, denying the Bureau of Labor Statistics defies logic,” Segal said. “Part of pragmatism is also compromise, and we reject ideologues who would risk our nation’s credit rating to make a political point.”
If the Republican Party cannot divorce itself from the insanity of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Fox News and the racists hiding in its midst, it risks losing the majority of the next generation. As a proud Democrat, I am heartened by the prospect of a generation lost to the Republican Party. As an American, however, I want more than one party able to compete for influence and for governance because that competition will produce a healthier democracy.
If the GOP wants to self-destruct and follow the Whig Party into oblivion, so be it. Another political force will fill the vacuum. It’s up to them.