It's probably fitting that over the past few days I've had a line floating through my head from a movie that might just stand as one of the pinnacles of jingoistic frat boy cinema.
The line in question comes toward the end of Armageddon, when Bruce Willis's character and his crew of roughnecks have successfully drilled through to the core of the killer asteroid and are preparing to drop a nuclear bomb into the hole that will blow the whole thing to hell. Suddenly, the environment on the asteroid becomes even more volatile -- explosive gas vents going off all over the place and violent quakes that throw the astronauts this way and that way -- causing Willis to say something about how it's obvious the rock they're hurtling toward Earth on doesn't like them being there. That's when Will Patton's character responds determinedly, "That's because it knows we're here to kill it."
Why has this silly scene been on my mind so much lately? Well, think of the giant killer asteroid as the current incarnation of the Republican party, a wave of immigrant and non-white births as the roughnecks, and the seismic political shift they're bringing to bear on this country as the nuclear warhead. The changing face of America has come to destroy the GOP as it's existed for the past several decades -- and the party is not happy about it. Don't let all the usual macho bluster and tough talk fool you; Republicans are scared right now. Terrified. As in chilled right down to their precious souls -- the ones hand-spun by Almighty God the second their dads and moms officially wrapped things up in bed. They know their days are numbered.
Census data show that last year, for the first time, non-white births made up over 50% of all births in the U.S. What this proves is what the Republican party already knows very well: the traditionally conservative electorate, essentially their entire way of thinking and the political clout it's held, is in danger of being demographically pushed out of existence. In case you happen to actually be a Republican and therefore don't believe in things like facts and numbers, let's let David Bositis of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies spell it out for you:
"The Republicans' problem is their voters are white, aging and dying off. There will come a time when they suffer catastrophic losses with the realization of the population changes."
The math simply doesn't lie, and it's presented Republicans with a stark and unavoidable choice -- literally, evolve or die. And we all know how they tend to feel about evolution. One look at the way they reacted to the election of Barack Obama, a flesh-and-blood symbol of the loss of political privilege they've enjoyed throughout history, should give you some idea of how the GOP chose to confront its new reality. Resentful conservatives didn't just stick their fingers in their ears and shout, "La la la la! Not listening!" -- they staged a full-on insurgency in the form of the Tea Party, one which dragged the relatively sane and reasonable Republican establishment kicking and screaming to the outer fringes of the far right and has kept it there.
With that in mind it should come as no surprise that the dwindling demographic that currently makes up the GOP base is thoroughly losing its mind over these latest census figures. The Eagle Forum, a group founded by prudish spinster cliché and right-wing crusader O.G. Phyllis Schlafly, responded to the report by not only doubling-down on but going all-in with the xenophobic rhetoric:
"It is not a good thing. The immigrants do not share American values, so it is a good bet that they will not be voting Republican when they start voting in large numbers."
It's not often that a statement is so wildly off-base and yet so unarguably right at the same time. No, immigrants aren't the shiftless parasites that Tea Party conservatives paint them all to be with the same shit-brown brush. Yes, they won't be voting Republican anytime soon -- mostly because conservatives continue to call them a bunch of shiftless parasites who aren't real Americans. The thing is, of course, that they are real Americans -- they're the new face of America. The old one is dying off and its mindset will soon be extinct -- the only question is whether the Republican party can adapt and save itself at least in name if not strident ideology. Grabbing on tightly with both hands and trying with all their might to hold onto the privilege and political power they've had for generations, trying to slam the door and clamp down on the rising authority of America's modern immigrant population, won't work. It's not the 1950s anymore. They're simply outnumbered -- and they know it. Glenn Beck was wrong. They are the ones surrounded.
And no matter how much of a tantrum they throw, that nuclear bomb is about to be shoved right up their ass.