by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jonah Goldberg‘s latest column, carrying the headline “Not Boring White Guys” this morning at National Review Online’s home page, explains how the Republican Party would benefit from having more candidates like Texas senatorial contender Ted Cruz and current Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
I’ve been saying for a while now that this is the last presidential election in American history where the GOP will benefit from having a boring white guy as the presidential nominee.
This is not a point about racial animosity toward Barack Obama, perhaps the most exaggerated issue of the last four years. The key, as it relates to 2012, is not the white part of that formulation, it’s the boring part. The operatic nature of Obama’s campaign in 2008 and his inability to live up to the expectations he set for himself have created a market for bland Mr. Fixit types.
But going forward, the GOP needs to figure out a way to become more appealing to new constituencies, particularly younger voters and Latinos.
Boring white guys aren’t great for that project. But candidates like Ted Cruz are.
It’s hardly a novel insight that the GOP needs to deal with America’s changing demographics. Inside the Beltway, the conventional explanation for how Republicans should do that tends to boil down to pandering and capitulation. For instance, Hispanics care about immigration, we’re told, and therefore Republicans should adopt the same policies as the Democrats.
The substance of those policies aside, there are political problems with this thinking. First, Republicans rarely if ever win such bidding wars.
Second, there’s a faulty assumption here: that various ethnicities, and young people generally, are both monolithic and hardwired to support certain policies and are therefore immune to persuasion.
But young people almost by definition believe in things they eventually grow out of. And Latino voters are not monolithic in almost any sense: racially, ethnically, religiously, or ideologically.