Chart of the Day

Our chart of the day comes from this article in Politico Magazine by Doug McAdam and Karina Kloos, about how the contemporary Republican party has its roots in the racial struggles of the 1960s. It's a good overview of that history, even if you may not find any shocking revelations there. But this chart they use is particularly striking, showing the racial makeup of Barack Obama's and Mitt Romney's voters in 2012:

I've written a lot about how some people within the Republican Party, and the conservative movement more generally, find political value in fostering white resentment. Sometimes that resentment is directed at specific figures like Barack Obama, and at those times it usually reaches back to the 1960s to prey on white fears of angry black people coming to do you financial and physical harm (the best comment about Eric Holder's resignation yesterday undoubtedly came from Fox News host Andrea Tantaros, who said of Holder, "He ran the DOJ much like the Black Panthers would. That is a fact").

But at other times, the target of that resentment and fear is a changing world that many people, particularly older people, feel is leaving them behind. The kids are all listening to that terrifying rap music (probably because they aren't praying in school like in the good old days), there are naked butts all over television, gay people are getting married, and you can't go into the supermarket without hearing somebody speak Spanish or who knows what else. "What happened to my America?" these folks find themselves asking. They're not wrong that the America of their youth, at least as they perceived it when they were young, has disappeared, even if they may not realize that even back then America was always changing.

The Republican party speaks to them. It says, "We sympathize with you. We know why you're angry and afraid, and we're angry and afraid too. We'll be your voice." And so they are. But the problem reflected in that graph is that once you become the voice of those people—who are still so numerous they can get the GOP much of the way to 50 percent in every election, even if their numbers are dwindling—you have to stick with them. You can talk all you want about "reaching out" to a more diverse electorate, but it won't happen so long as you have to spend so much time assuring that white, older base that you're still their voice. That's because being their voice means channelling those resentments and fears, and that means turning off those people who make up all the non-white bars in the Democratic half of that graph.

I don't envy the Republican strategists who would like to find a way out of this conundrum, because it's hard to imagine what it might be. 

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