Official recounts in Florida have now shown that George W. Bush really did win the presidential election of 2000, so all the grouse and whine from the Democrats and the Black Caucus about the Bush presidency being "illegitimate" turns out to be as wrong as it was ill-tempered. But what other counting shows is that neither President Bush nor the Republicans should be complacent. It's not Florida they need to worry about but California.
Late in January, the London Financial Times surveyed the political scene in California and found that the GOP is in trouble there. It was in trouble last year, when it lost five congressional seats to the Democrats, but it's going to find itself in even deeper trouble in the near future.
The cause of the trouble, as the FT puts it, lies in "California's demographics, rather than in political manipulation." Though the Bush campaign spent about $15 million in the state last year and a great deal of time campaigning for its votes, and the Democrats spent little time or money there, Mr. Bush nevertheless walked off with only 3 percent more votes in California than Bob Dole did in 1996. The reason lies in the state's changing ethnic composition.
"Fresh data show a continuing shift of Latino and Asian voters into the Democrat camp," the FT points out, "which could 'fundamentally alter' elections, leadership and policy choices, according to leading pollsters." The quotation comes from California's Public Policy Institute, which has published a study of electoral and demographic trends in the state.
The study finds that "Latino voters are increasing in numbers as registration drives advance and registering themselves 'overwhelmingly' as Democratic supporters." Indeed, the trend toward the Democrats there is such as to be "moulding the foundations of a one-party state," as the FT comments. Latinos and Asians, who also tend to vote Democrat, will account for half the state's population within 20 years, and since last year whites "have officially represented less than half the citizenry."
Well, of course, none of this should be news. Most serious students of immigration have predicted for years that Hispanic immigrants would support the Democrats or other left-wing parties and that Republicans would suffer because if it. The Republicans have repeatedly been warned about this, but virtually none paid any attention.
Instead, what we heard was that immigrants have "strong family values," are "hard-working" and "socially conservative" [VDARE note: Oh yeah? So why do they have so many abortions?] and would naturally gravitate to the GOP if only the xenophobes and anti-immigration types would shut up and stop scaring them away. As a result, Republicans in Congress and the party leadership totally abandoned the winning issue of immigration control, and one of the great virtues Mr. Bush was supposed to bring to the GOP ticket was his commitment to more legal immigration and his strong support from Hispanics.
We now know that none of that helped. Mr. Bush still lost the Hispanic vote nationally by an overwhelming 31 percent to Al Gore's 67 percent. We now know too that California, vital to the Republican future as a national party, will be lost to the Republicans; precisely because of the immigration the party refused to control and what some Republican strategists have dubbed the "Hispanic strategy," by which Hispanic voters were supposed to be pulled into the party's ranks.
But the dismal flop of the GOP's Hispanic strategy and its pro-immigration policies are not the only lessons to be learned. The most important lesson is that it may still not be too late for the Republicans to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The way to do so is to forget trying to woo Hispanics and start trying to consolidate the white vote; both in California and the rest of the nation. Critics will sneer that this is a loser's strategy, that whites already tend to support the Republicans and that it's too hard to try to win more of them.
But the truth is that in the Southern states, the overwhelmingly white Republicans routinely win elections, despite overwhelmingly black voting solidarity for the Democrats and despite the electorates of the Southern states being about 40 percent black. Republicans win in the South because Southern whites there vote together; just as blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other ethnic and racial groups do. Nobody but whites outside the South really believes that race and ethnicity don't matter; at least no other group votes that way.
If the Republicans want to win California and even remain competitive as a national party, they're going to have to wake up and see that their "Hispanic strategy" and their refusal to support immigration control have failed disastrously, and they're also going to have to learn and act upon the real lesson of the 2000 election; that race drives American politics and will do so far into the future.
COPYRIGHT 2001 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
March 08, 2001