Nobody is going to confuse FOX News commentator Juan Williams for a flaming liberal. But he’s not an over-the-top, insane right wing firebrand in the Tucker Carlson-Ann Coulter camp either. Like Alan Colmes did in his gig with Sean Hannity several years ago on FOX, his role on The Five is to try to provide a soupcon of reality to the asylum that the other four participants reside in.
In an attempt to speak to humans who actually have their heads out of their asses, Williams penned an op-ed that appears today in The Hill. And in that article, he sounds a general quarters alarm for the conservatives that don’t habitually reside in the FOX News bubble. His assessment of the upcoming first Democratic Presidential debate is stark and to the point;
For the first time in my life, the field of presidential candidates for a major political party looks like America — a racially diverse country.
The debates will include a Jewish democratic socialist (Bernie Sanders), an LGBTQ person (Pete Buttigieg), two African Americans (Cory Bookerand Kamala Harris), a Latino (Julián Castro), an Asian American (Andrew Yang) and six women (Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, Marianne Williamson and Tulsi Gabbard).
The GOP debate stage for their 2016 primaries featured one woman, one African American, one Indian American and two Hispanics. They were basically bookends for 12 white men who dominated that stage.
With one simple act of comparative context, Juan Williams plainly sums up the existential threat to the current iteration of the Republican party. But Williams makes it clear that he isn’t simply indulging in a hissy fit. Using polling stats, Williams points out that under Trump, the GOP’s share of white, non college educated voters has risen from 48 to 59%, while their share of college educated white voters has shrunk from 40 to 29%. Williams goes on to show the rapidly increasing disparity in the GOP’s share of women voters, the literal majority of the voting population. And then Williams got to the real crux of the problem, the age gap;
Last year, the Brookings Institution reported “the oldest Americans, those 50 and over, have consistently given Trump his highest approval ratings while young people aged 18-29 have consistently given him his lowest approval ratings.”
In fact, Quinnipiac University polling in May reported 70 percent disapproval for Trump among adults under the age of 35.
There it is, in a nutshell. The “base” of the Republican party, whether Trump or non Trump is getting older, whiter more male, and less educated, all of them shrinking demographics. Even before Trump, the rigid, male, white ideology of the GOP was turning away the younger, better educated, and female voters that they need to continue to thrive, but with the excesses of His Lowness, the train is speeding downhill sans brakes. Juan Williams sees this clearly, but what he either fails to grasp, or resigns himself to, is that neither the Trump GOP nor the non Trump GOP can tolerate this message.
For the rabid Trump voter, the racist, xenophobic, misogynist platform of the party is music to their ears. And the rest of them are so disgusted with politics that trump’s promise to dismantle the government is exactly what they signed up for, and he’s giving them what they want. The future of the Republican party is inconsequential to them, since they crave a world where political parties are useless anyway.
And the “mainstream” portion of the GOP can be no more receptive to William’s dire signal flare. Going all the way back to the days of Nixon, the GOP adopted a racist “southern strategy” that precluded it from attracting younger, more tolerant, and minority voters. That branding is more than 30 years in the making, and now an indelible blot on the party’s image.
Back in he 90’s, my beloved Chicago Bulls won 6 world championships in 8 years. After the 6th one, management made the difficult decision to break up the dynasty, trading away the aging superstars that made it possible, in order to be more viable in the future. The GOP had the same chance. The “autopsy report” following the 2012 election laid out most if not all of the warnings that Williams wrote about today, along with suggestions for revitalizing the party, including gently separating itself from the older, zanier evangelical base. But those suggestions meant basically ceding presidential elections for at least one cycle. Instead, the GOP chose to try to wring out one more champoinship with the old timers. It worked, but made the rebuilding process that much more difficult.
Juan Williams can see as clearly as the nose on his face that his Republican party is dying. To be sure, with the wonders of gerrymandering, they wil remain a congressional force for the foreseeable future. But as more and more of the south succumbs to the “mew south” of revitalization, with increased technology jobs, and the more progressive, younger, more diverse populations that it brings, national prominence will slip further away. Which is sad, since democracy requires two strong, vibrant parties to thrive. We’ll just have to wait to see what springs up next.