Pledging to win a larger share of Hispanic and black votes, the Republican National Committee completed its winter meeting. This fateful decision could mean either the end of class and race political war in the United States or the demise of the Republican Party.
The outcome depends on how Republicans approach the task. The GOP can base its appeal to minorities on assimilation to American culture, on the promise of an opportunity society based in low taxes and decreased regulation, on respect for parental authority and a reduction in government intrusion in family affairs, and on respect for individual achievement and self-reliance.
If Hispanics and blacks desire a free and independent life, they will respond positively to the offer.
The alternative approach is to compete with Democrats in offering income-support programs and race-based preferences.
The first approach would not only rally the demoralized Republican constituency, but also provide a test whether immigrants are committed to American principles or to income redistribution. The personal income tax burden rests on 32 million taxpayers (primarily white males), who deserve to know whether they have a future different from tax slavery.
The alternative approach pandering, preferences and handouts will destroy the Republican Party.
Many of the Republican Party’s natural constituents are disgusted and alienated by the party’s wobbly principles and refuse to vote. Experts have pointed out that had President Bush received 2 percent or 3 percent more votes from the white population, he would have swamped Al Gore in the electoral college. If Mr. Bush competes for minorities on the Democrats’ terms, he will lose more white votes than he will gain minority votes.
Moreover, whatever handouts the Republicans offer, the Democrats will offer more. Two political parties competing to redistribute income and expand minority privileges would spell the swift end of the United States.
Most immigrants are poor and uneducated. They are tax users. Sensing the white guilt that weakens resistance to income redistribution, organizations that speak for immigrants lobby for more benefits. Large and concentrated immigrant populations, combined with the emphasis on multiculturalism, make assimilation difficult.
Fearing that a principled approach to minorities will fail, Republican pandering has already begun. Witness Mr. Bush’s plan to legalize millions of illegal Mexican immigrants and to provide food stamps for legal aliens.
Democrats will outbid him, and Republican voters will desert the GOP.
Millions of Americans believe their culture is being overrun from abroad and overturned from within, and that they are forced to pay for their corresponding loss of community and sense of self with their own tax dollars.
Black and white New York City councilmen are taking down portraits of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Malcolm X is taking their place. There is no longer a George Washington Day; but there is a Martin Luther King Day.
Announcing that a King portrait will hang prominently in the White House, Mr. Bush accepted the replacement of our Founding Fathers with new heroes: “Some figures in history, renowned in their day, grow smaller with the passing of time. The man [King] from Atlanta, Ga., only grows larger with the years. America is a better place because he was here, and we will honor his name forever.”
Many Republicans will see in these words the Republican Party’s acquiescence to racial preferences and unequal rights for whites. The war against terrorism and the illusion that the country has pulled together have led Republicans to conclude that they can broaden their political base by betraying the people who vote for them.
When the Democrats tried this, they lost the “solid South.”