The prophetic words of Yogi Berra would seem to fit our moment in time perfectly.
The last two elections were historical in many ways. I believe it also tells us quite a bit about future elections. The common assumption is that presidential elections run in cycles with each party taking its turn. There may still be cycles, but the transformation of these last two elections could alter these cycles dramatically.
The colorful Cajun, James Carville, one of President Clinton’s chief political strategists, wrote a book in which he projected that Democrats will control national elections for 36 or 40 years.
Sound outlandish? Maybe not! Consider these two sets of facts:
First, the Republican Party is locked in a struggle to find or create a consensus. The conservative wing feels the party has to strengthen its conservative principles and expand that base. That essentially was the strategy of President Bush and his political advisor, Karl Rove.
The conservative wing feels the last two presidential nominees lost because they weren’t conservative enough. I’m not sure the facts support that conjecture.
In 2008, I believe any Democrat would have beaten any Republican. The after taste of the Bush years was just too strong. As far as 2012, Romney was beaten, in my opinion, by a combination of attack dogs in the primaries and a semi-competent campaign that blew too many opportunities to set his record straight and project him as a moderate.
The moderates in the party, on the other hand, look at the last election results and argue that the party must project a more socially and culturally moderate position in order to appeal to a wider range of voters.
The second set of facts tends to support the view of the moderates, as well as Carville’s predictions.
Ronald Brownstein, who now writes for the National Journal, said, “Population changes favor the Democrats and are redrawing America’s electoral map.”
He goes on to say that the most reliable voting blocks in the Democratic Party have grown and will continue to expand. These groups, according to Brownstein, are Latinos, African-Americans, Asians and other minorities. The conservative blue collar voter base that tends to support the Republicans, on the other hand, are declining dramatically.
Add to this the coming citizenship for 11 million illegal aliens and the plot begins to thicken. The Democrats and the Catholic Church wants citizenship for this substantial block because they feel they will get 80% or more of them. The Republicans probably will block this legislation but even if they go along, they won’t win enough converts to matter.
Brownstein’s conclusion is a bit scary. “Any GOP coalition too narrow to welcome back voters who share moderate views is almost certainly too narrow to dislodge the Democrats.” If in fact we are headed for effectively a one-party government, I am not sure this can be a healthy thing for the country.
The only missing piece in this scenario is the personality and charisma of the candidates who may be able to alter these demographic facts and trends.