Benjy Sarlin has a great article about the New Southern Strategy that I’ve been writing about, How the GOP Stopped Worrying About Latinos and Learned to Love the Base. It lays out the best statistical counter argument to Sean Trende that I’ve read. As you know, I don’t think any of this really matters. The Republican Party has no intention of changing. For one thing, they have a long history of getting people to vote against their best interests by voting Republican. That’s what the “Reagan Democrats” were: people who resented blacks more than they cared about their own well being. So it only makes sense that they would continue to think that they can win elections while remaining unpopular. And the recent damage to the Voting Rights Act only makes that opinion all the more compelling to the Republican Party.
And that got me thinking: voter suppression. There is a very old theory about liberals and conservatives. It claims that liberals make policies based upon the way they want people to be, but conservatives base their policies on the way people actual are. I think there actually used to be something to this. A lot of socialist thought assumed that incentives didn’t matter whereas conservatives were all about incentives. For the last few decades, though, liberals have been all about incentives. In as much as conservatives think about incentives, they now believe they are the only thing that matters, which is just as big a mistake as thinking that they don’t matter at all.
But in a more fundamental way, the Republican Party believes things that are clearly untrue. We saw this most clearly last year where even Mitt Romney went into election day thinking he was going to win despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. But more to the point, I have noticed that a lot of conservatives really do think that any time a Republican loses an election it is a sign of voter fraud. I believe this comes from the extremely insular nature of conservative politics. Just look at the Deer Lady: it is clear she never hears anything about politics that is not filtered through a right wing extremist.
It goes much deeper than this. Much of the conservative base really thinks that the world is the way they “remember” it. They think it is still 1976 when whites made up 89% of the electorate. So to them, the coming “demographic death spiral” is just a myth like global warming. The only reason that white voters have been declining is that ACORN has been committing vast voter fraud (even though it no longer exists). And by enacting voter ID laws we will return to the halcyon days of old.
Note: this is not what people like Sean Trende and Byron York are talking about. As I’ve explained before, they are just the intellectual rationalizations of what the Republicans were always going to do. But I think there is much more here than stubbornness from the Republicans. They are just convinced that America is still a white man’s country and that if everything is fair, they win. Personally, I don’t see why so many liberals are trying to educate them on the matter. The time would be better spent trying to educate both parties on some basic economics.