Whenever one of the major parties suffers a huge national defeat, there are always howls that the party is "finished" - usually this is not much more than wishful thinking. Now, from liberal media pundits in the wake of the Obamamania and repudiation of Bush come the standard reply that the Republicans are out of ideas, by the wayside, etc.
Where have I heard this before? Oh yes, it was way, way back in 2002 when the Republicans reversed the historical trend of winning Senate seats in an off-year election, bucking the trend that the party of the president always loses seats in those years. Bush himself went around campaigning personally, putting his prestige on the line, and winning Senate seats in unlikely places, including Minnesota - a Democratic stronghold. Norm Coleman defeated former VP and MN legend Walter Mondale after the untimely death of Paul Wellstone. "The Democrats are finished," I kept hearing.
Oh yes, and for all his rampant unpopularity, Bush was actually re-elected way, way, way back in 2004.
In 1994, the Republicans swept the Dems out of power in both houses - the Gingrich Revolution of Contract With America fame - winning over 50 house seats without losing one. Again "the Democrats are finished!"
And in 1984, when Regan won 49 states, two themes emerging from that year were 1) realignment - the Democratic strongholds of voter groups were over - Republicans now constituted the majority; and something called the "Republican electoral lock," which meant that Republicans were so strong in national presidential campaigns that you could not figure out mathematically how Democrats could ever reach the 270 electoral votes needed.
Oh yeah, that lasted exactly one more election cycle.
So what is my point? Seemingly, it is that all these defining moments are indeed the result of the hoopla of the moment and that these things are cyclical by nature. One party takes power, does a lousy job, and the other party takes over. So the axioms of today become tomorrow's forgotten words. What happened to realignment? The Republican electoral lock? And if Obama screws up, a Republican can easily be elected in 2012.
But hold it... maybe that's not my point. While those facts are true enough, maybe the Republicans really are finished this time. The truth is that I do indeed believe in the permanent demise of the Republicans, but not in contradiction to any of the points I made above.
I would add two caveats to my assessment that the Republicans are finished. First, it will continue to be slow and incremental. Second, it is manifestly NOT because of all the reasons that you keep hearing in the media (GOP out of ideas, etc.)
It's baloney that the GOP is out of ideas. They have some very good ideas. They lost because they abandoned those ideas and governed like Democrats. George Bush spends us into oblivion, making Lyndon Johnson look like a penny pincher, and people blame conservatism? Had Bush (or McCain) acted like a conservative, disaster would not have struck.
But here's the deal - the real reason I say Republicans are finished (or will eventually be relegated to small minority status). It's not because of bad ideas; it's because of bad American demographics - and bad demographics cannot be overcome by failed or successful policies (blacks and Hispanics vote Democratic no matter what). Those groups who vote Republican are shrinking, dwindling, and slowly disappearing. Non-Republican groups are rising because of immigration and high birth rates.
It's almost hard to believe that Ronald Reagan won New York State twice. That is a demographic impossibility today. Same with California. Nixon and Reagan both won it twice; GHW Bush won it once. That could never happen today because of the influx on non-whites.
The racial realities are stark. The last Democrat to win the white vote nationally was LBJ in 1964 - 45 years ago! Yes indeed, even when Democrats win presidential elections - and win them comfortably (Clinton in 92 and 96) the Republican candidate still wins the white vote - McCain in 2008, too. In other words, if only whites voted, or if America was only white, a Democrat could never win.
But since whites don't vote monolithically the way non-whites (especially blacks) do, it only takes a decent percentage of the white vote to make the Democrats winners.
So my answer to the question of this post is that yes, the Republicans are finished unless the racial demographic in America can be reversed. There is no indication that it will be. If anything, it's getting worse for Republicans. So as more and more states become totally out of play, like NY and CA, the"electoral lock" will become Democratic.
And by the way, Bush and McCain and many Republicans have gotten exactly what they deserve with all this - because of their ridiculous and suicidal support of increased immigration and amnesty programs.