August 5, 2019


The Incredible Shrinking GOP: Trump is turning the Republican Party even whiter and more male than before, with profound consequences for party and country alike. (MATT FORD, August 5, 2019, New Republic)

Hurd's departure leaves a largely monochromatic party even less racially diverse than it already was. He and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott are the only black Republican members of Congress. A Washington Post analysis last week noted that there were only 14 nonwhite Republicans among the party's 273 members who serve as federal lawmakers or state governors. Among 302 Democrats who serve in those positions, by comparison, one-third are nonwhite. Those figures, the Post noted, largely reflect the racial composition of the Republican Party itself.

Two of the House's 13 Republican women--Roby and Indiana's Susan Brooks--have also already said that they would not run again in 2020. Brooks's decision to retire was particularly ominous: She had been tapped to serve as the House Republicans' recruitment chair. While neither party is close to gender parity in Congress, their decision will likely amplify a deep gender imbalance among Republican lawmakers. Just over a third of House Democrats are women, compared to 6 percent of House Republicans. Last fall, the Senate Judiciary Committee's Republican members hired an outside woman lawyer to question Christine Blasey Ford, apparently cognizant of the bad optics of eleven Republican men interrogating her. Politico's Playbook newsletter noted on Friday that the House Republican caucus includes more members named Jim than women running for reelection.

Congressional retirements only tell part of the story. Since Trump took office two years ago, a small but notable number of state and local GOP elected officials have also switched parties. Four Kansas women lawmakers made the jump last December, pointing both to state-level dynamics as well as the president. California Assemblyman Brian Maienschein cited Trump and the party's overall right-wing drift as factors when he joined the Democrats in January. So did Andy McKean, the longest-serving Republican in the Iowa legislature, when he defected in April. "Some would excuse this behavior as 'telling it like it is' and the new normal," McKean told reporters when he announced his decision. "If this is the new normal, I want no part of it."

Some departures partially reflect the shift in suburban districts away from Trump's GOP. Others symbolize what the party is losing along the way. In 2017, Hawaii Republicans ousted their House minority leader, Beth Fukumoto, after she criticized Trump's sexism and racism at a local Women's March; Fukumoto left the party shortly thereafter. Tani Cantil-Sakauye, the chief justice of California, told reporters she switched her registration from Republican to no party after watching the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. And former Texas judge Elsa Alcala cited Trump's attacks on four women lawmakers of color when she left the GOP last month.

"At his core, his ideology is racism," she wrote. "To me, nothing positive about him could absolve him of his rotten core."

Meanwhile, Democrats are left to struggle with the fact that co-opting entire demographic groups, based just on Republican hatred of them, means that you get the conservatives and moderates too.  It means, no matter how hip and happening the Progressives are among your elites, the moderates have the advantage for the nomination.

Posted by at August 5, 2019 6:19 PM