Bryan Caplan  


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From Shikha Dalmia:
[T]he GOP has managed to alienate not just Hispanics allegedly collecting welfare and living below the poverty level. With a few exceptions like Cuban and Vietnamese Americans, it has alienated every ethnic minority: high- or low-skilled; Asian or Hispanic; rich or poor; on- or off-the-dole; with intact families or without them -- as I have written here, here and here.
Indians like Shikha are perhaps the most vivid example of all.

COMMENTS (25 to date)

Why is 'the GOP' the subject of that sentence. Same fact pattern can be described thusly:

With a few exceptions like Cuban and Vietnamese Americans, every ethnic minority - high- or low-skilled; Asian or Hispanic; rich or poor; on- or off-the-dole; with intact families or without them - refuses to vote for the GOP.

Is it supposed to be obvious whose 'fault' is this fact pattern?

djf writes:

As far as I can tell, the GOP establishment is making a strenuous, all-out effort to alienate their middle-class and working-class white voting base. This is in addition to almost invariably fighting against those voters' interests (as do the Democrats, of course).

The GOP has had frantic outreach to various firmly Democratic ethnic groups (blacks, Hispanics, Jews) for years. Nothing to show for it.

Of course, I'm sure we will be told that the Republicans could save themselves by adopting the libertarian agenda of the Cato Institute and the writers at this Website. Sure.

Tracy W writes:
Is it supposed to be obvious whose 'fault' is this fact pattern?

I think it's supposed to be obvious who has the greater interest in changing that. Namely, the ones who want to get elected in the long-term.
Who is at fault is typically not that useful in deciding what to do outside a courtroom.

Tom West writes:

I get the feeling that it's simpler than that.

If you are a visible minority, I think you might be disinclined to vote for a party that gives the distinct impression that at least a significant (and occasionally vocal) minority would be happier if they could wave a magic wand and make all the non-white citizenry disappear.

I think the sense of it is, when it comes to immigration issues, the Republican party tends to radiate "let's make the best with what we have" rather than viewing the immigration as a net positive.

Now obviously these are massive generalizations, but of the people who post here who think non-white immigration is a net negative, how many vote Democratic?

MG writes:

Is there no evidence (the type that generates the impressions of disrespect Bryan keeps talking about) that Democrats should have been alienating Catholics, young males, the 1%, Jews, e.g? And yet, the worst that befalls Democrats is to split some of these groups -- and even win others handily.

The Democrats have successfully created a narrative that the GOP is the party of ethnic bigotry; and the media and the educational establishment never challenged this, so it has become part of popular culture. With this terrible (and terribly unfair) playing field, every one of these votes has to be won one vote a time. In an era of first impressions, low information voting leveraged by social media and data-mining, this really hurts. The GOP (and Libertarians) better hope that the trait of self-directed individualism is higher among these groups than among the population at large because the collective identity is already locked up.

I think it's supposed to be obvious who has the greater interest in changing that.

A political party should be very interested in expending effort/political capital to win over the votes of voters who are *actually winnable*, sure.

If they're not though, then not so much.

One can argue about which applies here, but that calculation shouldn't just be glossed over as if it's not important. It's very important.

djf writes:

Anothe way to look at it is this:

The GOP voting base is chiefly made up of middle class and working class nonmetropolitan whites whose interests are opposed (in numerous ways) to continued uncontrolled immigration.

Due to the same opposition of interests, recent immigrants (naturalized, legal residents and illegals alike) and their voting children are naturally antagonistic to the GOP voting base.

Because the immigrants are antagonistic to the GOP voting base, they are antagonistic to the GOP.

The solution urged on the GOP, therefore, is to drop the nonmetropolitan, middle class white voting base it has had for the last 2 generations (roughly since Nixon) and devote itself to cultivating the newly powerful non-European minorities. The theory is that a significant proportion of these minority voters (most plausibly, Asian entrepreneurs and tech workers) will suddenly realize some sort of affinity for the GOP once the party drops its association with middle class whites and their American suburban culture.

Implicit in this theory is the view that the interests of the people currently making up the Republican voting base don't count and should not be considered in setting policy. These tens of millions of people, apparently, should realize that they are the past.

It's worse than that djf. Because it's the bare fact that the ethnic minorities refuse to vote for the GOP that is, in and of itself, what is being cited as evidence that the GOP should 'reach out' to them that much more. In the limit, this logic suggests that the more these ethnicities hate the GOP, the more the GOP should abandon their core principles and constituency to try to win them over. And the more impossible the numbers make this seem, the more of an imperative it becomes.

This is electoral 'advice' that is probably better described as an attempt at sabotage.

djf writes:

Crimson, I absolutely agree with you. What we are seeing is the Republican establishment trying to sabotage their own party as a potential national majority political coalition while maintaining it - more or less on life support - as a source of income for politicians, functionaries and consultants, and as a lobbyist for the short-term, perceived self-interest of whatever business interests contribute to it.

Tracy W writes:

Either the Republicans can continue to win power based entirely off their current voter base for the next few decades, or they won't as demographics change. (I have no particular insight into the numbers).

If the demographics change then the Republican party is going to be under severe pressure to change in response, to somehow find a set of positions that will appeal to about half of the voting group (over a few election cycles).

I hope for the US's sake that they do, it strikes me that a country where the main opposition is unelectable tends to have worse government from the lack of competitive pressure on whomever is in power.

Tom West writes:

I have to agree. As someone who would naturally be Democratic (if I was American), I can think of nothing worse for the USA (and the Democrats) than having them more or less perpetually enshrined in government.

(Much like I was not actually all that disappointed that the Canadian Conservative knocked the Liberals from their "natural ruling party" status, even though I abhor most of their policies.)

Cimon Alexander writes:

We can find an explanation for this pattern from Lee Kwan Yew:

"In multiracial societies, you don't vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion. Supposing I'd run their system here, Malays would vote for Muslims, Indians would vote for Indians, Chinese would vote for Chinese. I would have a constant clash in my Parliament which cannot be resolved because the Chinese majority would always overrule them. So I found a formula that changes that"

A strong feeling of patriotism is vital in a multi-ethnic democracy so that people are more loyal to their country than their ethnic ties. Of course, liberals openly mock American patriotism - "Muricka!".

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party supports a spoils system for minorities through affirmative action programs and fraudulent funds designed to pay minority voters for their loyalty. Pigford is a $4 billion fraud designed to pay out black, hispanic, and female voters, for example:

Eventually Republicans will get more ethnic votes as their ability to get to 50% with the white population diminishes. And the quality of governance will get worse as both parties seek to further the interests of their ethnic groups rather than the common good.

There is one way that Republicans could shortcut the process - paying out minorities from the public purse like the Democrats do right now.

pj writes:

MG is precisely right. It is the influence of demonization from the media and educational complex.

I remember once replying in the comments to a Wall Street Journal article to a highly intelligent and moderate Jew who had written that the reason he wouldn't vote Republican is that he wouldn't associate with the party of Father Coughlin and the Ku Klux Klan.

This intelligent man must have assumed Coughlin and the KKK were Republicans because they and modern Republicans are both demonized by the contemporary media/educational complex. In the brain, the assumption is that things associate because they are alike; and associations needn't exist in reality, only in intellectual juxtaposition.

People want to conform to the rest of society and the overwhelming message reaching minorities is that they belong with Democrats. White Americans are more familiar with the fact that the media and schools are biased and unrepresentative; to immigrants, they represent the mainstream they want to be part of.

Curt writes:

If the Democrats guarantee that if elected; the government will give me far more than it takes from me... Why would I be a fool and vote for the GOP?

If the Democrats guarantee me that if elected; the government will take far more from me than I will receive from the government... Why would I be a fool and vote for the Dems?

The GOP doesn't need more Hispanics... the GOP needs more fools.

Douglass Holmes writes:

A good many Republicans find it difficult to appeal to people based on their race. If we believe in racial equality, how can we, with a straight face, promise benefits to people, based on their race? We would rather pretend that we can win people over by appealing to their values. Since Democrats typically see the world in terms of "oppressed" and "oppressor" they aren't really trying to do favors for minority group X based on their minority status, but rather based on their status as an oppressed group.
Also, it is a mistake to expect entrepreneurs to lean Republican. Most creative people, at some point, will need to appeal to someone with money to fund some aspect of their business. And, the money people don't just hand over the money. The money people expect to be paid back, and expect a return on their investment. They expect to control the business of the entrepreneur, frequently clashing with the business owner over details. So, minority (and even non-minority) entrepreneurs frequently dislike the financial class. Right or wrong, the tendency is to see the Republicans as representing the money-lenders, not the creative or entrepreneurial class.
From my point of view, as a Republican, the shame is that Democrats get a pass on sabotaging Immigration Reform in 2007 and ignoring the issue during the two years that they could have done something about it.
But, if the Republicans chose to follow Rush Limbaugh on the issue, I will be tempted to switch parties.

Tom West writes:

The GOP voting base is chiefly made up of middle class and working class nonmetropolitan whites whose interests are opposed (in numerous ways) to continued uncontrolled immigration.

Actually, I'd make the claim that a significant minority of the Republicans aren't all that thrilled about *controlled* immigration.

Immigration above trivial levels means cultural change, and I think quite a number of members of the Republican base don't care to see such cultural change.

Fair enough - they certainly have the right to try to see their policies expressed as legislation. But it's likely to be tough to persuade minorities to vote for them at the same time as the Republicans make a home for this section of their supporters.

Floccina writes:

It might be best if the Republican party imploded and Democratic party split. Too many people think of the Republican party as the white male's party. Very conservative blacks, Hispanics and even Asians vote Democrat.

Cimon Alexander writes:

It's interesting that the white middle class makes up the majority of the country, and yet their political interests are untouchable by any coalition that expects to win. The progressive machine is impressive, if also cynical and destructive.

Floccina writes:

BTW I bet that the Libertarian party is as heavily skewed to white males as is the Republican party. that despite being very pro immigration.

People are funny about identity. In the current circumstances Non-whites seem to hang together politically and want one of their own in charge. It might be like Palestinians preferring Palestinian rule which is likely to mean corrupt dictatorship over Jewish rule which seems like it would be not nearly as bad.

Dan writes:

What future does a nation have if its citizens take greater offense at politicians who are culturally insensitive than they do at politicians who promote laws of mass economic & social destruction?

We shall see, won't we.

Tom West writes:

It's interesting that the white middle class makes up the majority of the country, and yet their political interests are untouchable by any coalition that expects to win.

By the tone of your comment, I think you might mean *your* political interests are untouchable by any coalition that expects to win.

By voting patterns, it seems evident that the Democratic party currently meets the political interests of quite a number of the white middle class.

MingoV writes:

Who is 'The Republican Party'? It isn't a uniform group of people with identical positions on every issue. Many republicans favor increased immigration. Republicans in Congress have proposed (numerous times) increased immigration based on a guest worker program (restricted access to federal benefits and a longer path to full citizenship). Democrats opposed this every time and never got bad press for their anti-immigration position. But, whenever a republican politician speaks out against illegal immigration, our 'unbiased' media turns that into "all republicans hate all immigrants and want to deport them." It's hardly surprising that even conservative legal immigrants vote democrat.

djf writes:

MingoV speaks of "conservative legal immigrants." I'm not sure what you mean by "conservative." What is it that these immigrants want to conserve? If it's the cultures they brought with them, they are not "conservatives" in the American context. American conservatives want to "conserve" (but not freeze, contary to what some people here say) the American culture (including its political and economic principles).

Mark V Anderson writes:
If the Democrats guarantee that if elected; the government will give me far more than it takes from me... Why would I be a fool and vote for the GOP?

Because they're lying? But it is true that most minorities don't realize that the Dems are taking more away from them than they give, so they believe they'd be fools to vote Republican.

johnleemk writes:

It's curious that some commenters blame the media for fostering unfounded perceptions of the GOP, while other commenters embrace these perceptions and essentially assert that no immigrant can truly be a part of the GOP.

My view is that the media is definitely biased against the GOP. This doesn't mean the GOP isn't taking actions that alienate non-white, non-male voters. Witness, for instance, the immense brouhaha about the "WTC mosque" -- Republican politicians went beyond arguing that such a project was in bad taste, but essentially argued that the project was un-American and run by un-American Muslim fanatics. This is a good read on the topic of how the GOP lost Muslims (who were, as recently as 20 years ago, one of the most solidly Republican demographics in the US):

And it's not just Muslims; it's just about any non-white, non-male demographic. (I don't need to provide examples of repugnant Republican statements on things like rape or reproductive rights.) As an Asian, one of the things that sticks in my memory is when 4 years ago, a Texas Republican legislator told an Asian testifying before the state house that Asians should adopt Western names:

Now she had very pragmatic reasons for making such a suggestion and I'm sure she didn't mean any disrespect to Asian culture when she said that; I've said stupid things without thinking before. But that she didn't think this was a big deal, and that her PR team refused to walk back her remarks, illustrated to me then that the GOP isn't terribly interested in showing my culture much respect.

Now I can hold my nose and vote for a Republican even if I believe they don't like my culture and would prefer me to change my name and abandon my traditions. But I'm not most people. And I would still have serious reservations about voting for someone who shares my policy views but who doesn't view me as a valued citizen or constituent.

The media surely exaggerates the problem with Republicans' alienation of non-white, non-male demographics. But has it created the problem out of thin air? That I think is a strong claim which deserves strong evidence, and I don't see the evidence for it. It's far too easy to find Republicans saying insane things about rape or non-white people. The best counterexamples I've been pointed to on the Democratic side consist of bad jokes from Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden about Indians running convenience stores. I find it hard to believe that the GOP isn't actively alienating non-white and non-male constituents. (Whether this is good or bad, of course, is a subjective matter. Some people here certainly don't seem to have any issues with this.)

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