Jack is a member of the Junior State of America (JSA), a student-run political awareness organization for high school students.
As anyone who has been outside in the past three months will know, the election has consumed the news cycle and American attention. The high stakes make this process inexorable, as everyone has a vested interest, or should have one, in who wins. With President Obama's reelection in mind, I will be throwing my hat in the ring of punditry already looking to 2016 and beyond. As the 21st century advances, we have found ourselves on an intriguing track. The political landscape could be in for major change, but the nature of this development is at once previously unforeseeable and immediately at hand. To put it simply, the face of America is changing.
In 2011, for the first time in history, more minority babies were born than their white counterparts. To be sure, more white children were born than any other single group, but non-whites finally collectively outnumbered what amounts to the status quo in America. The real significance of this statistic is that current predictions project whites losing their majority status by 2045. This is abundantly important for liberals, as minorities overwhelmingly vote for Democrats. The writing on the wall has been scrawled for years, though. Even Republicans have become acutely aware of these facts. "We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term," worried Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. It's resoundingly true. Seventy-four percent of Latinos and 90 percent of African-Americans support President Obama, according to a poll conducted in early August. As these demographics swell, Republican support will likely contract. Disaster could be looming on the horizon for the GOP.
The Republican Party is, to put it plainly, an odd coalition. After being the minority under decades of center-left rule, the new Republicans formed in the shadow of Barry Goldwater's disastrous campaign in 1964. Amalgamating evangelicals, segregationists, fiscal conservatives, and war hawks provided the party with a wide base, but this was by no means a happy marriage. The competing interests (limited government versus reproductive control, for example) made the party loathe to schism. The Tea Party and Libertarianism have both moved to energize different subgroups. Every such offshoot weakens the coalition, and the Republican Party has suffered.
This is not to be taken as a prognosis of failing conservatism. In fact, the very reasons these alternate branches are so popular is a prerogative to redefine a Republican Party that they feel has slipped to the center. There is an argument to be made that the primary process exacerbates this problem. The "race back to the middle" mentality fundamentally hurts the party, seen acutely in Romney's campaign. With Obama reelected, the GOP must go through yet another primary process in 2016. Perhaps an inspirational, affable moderate will unify the party, but if history provides any insight, and it often does, I suspect conservatism will reign supreme in the primaries. Even the "maverick" of the party, John McCain, had to kowtow to far-right interests to win the nomination. I agree with Senator Graham. This scale, vacillating between conservatism and moderatism, struggles to find a fulcrum -- a leader that balances both. The white male population is dwindling, and it is not a basis for a sustainable political model. Every election statistic supports the idea that independent numbers are rising, and rising fast, and the current right-wing rhetoric is not winning over many new suporters. If it stays on its current track, the Republican Party may find itself a minority, just like its demographic of choice.
With these historical trends at their backs, and the positive future trends on the horizon, the Democratic Party stands to gain tremendously. The most important group to target is undoubtedly Latinos. This is precisely why Arizona, Georgia, and perhaps even Texas could be competitive by 2020. Rising numbers of Hispanic Americans voting for Democrats could make these states battlegrounds. Reclaiming Southern states could ensure electoral success nationwide. With inspirational, dynamic young Latino politicians like the Castro brothers, Julián and Joaquín, a blue Texas is not out of reach. Likewise, as minority numbers rise in states like Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, Democrats could pick up power. The path to bringing in the Hispanic vote bears a great deal of resemblance to the similar journey that swung the African American bloc. It comes down to equality and respect. The pertinent civil rights issue now for Latinos is immigration reform. President Obama must make it a goal to pass comprehensive legislation. This could prove to draw Hispanics to the Democratic Party, and could even benefit Republicans, especially in Southern swing states, who support these movements. Supporting such a rising demographic does nothing but help politicians everywhere. Leading the charge on immigration, and every other issue, is a new crop of Democrats.
In 2008, Barack Obama was able to win the White House because he represented the new America. Eloquent, passionate, and driven, he became the first man of color to become President because he inspired people to hope for change, and provided a clear, cogent message that was, paradoxically, both idealistic and pragmatic, providing healthcare reform, but an unachievable dream before. Republicans have passionate leaders waiting in the wings, to be sure, like Chris Christie and Marco Rubio. At this point, however, I believe that more Americans think that Democrats represent what they stand for. The party of the people still has the voice of the people.
Democrats have been the ones to modernize for the 21st century, and they genuinely must try to look to the new to change, reform, and grow. Americans everywhere chose to follow Barack Obama down that path Tuesday night. As the youth of America, it is clear which party supports our issues. Progressive on social policy, working to lower college tuition burdens, and passing education reform, the Democratic Party is the group for youth. Already the coalition for Latinos, African Americans, blue-collar workers, and women, it may be the party of America for the foreseeable future.
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