Tea Party cost GOP

This year’s presidential election reveals a Republican Party now on the wrong side of history.

By Miguel De La Torre

Even before all the votes are fully counted, there is one undeniable conclusion about the 2012 election: We live in a divided nation. If we nuance that division, however, we discover that who is divided from whom is not healthy for the country.

In the earlier part of the last century, most divisions cut across a relatively homogeneous population, mainly because the voices of people of color were electorally suppressed. In villages, towns and cities, members of the dominant culture simply disagreed with each other as to who should lead the nation.

But in Tuesday’s presidential election, the division we witnessed was between distinct people groups. If 2008 was historic because we elected the first non-white president, 2012 will be historic because it marks the break between the old white America of the 20th century and the new pluralistic America of the 21st.

Statistical voting data provide a clearer picture of these two Americas fighting for the soul of the country.

Those who voted for President Obama tended to be young, women (54 percent), African-Americans (93 percent), Hispanics (69 percent), Asian (74 percent), highly educated, LGBT and urban -- the new America where future political power will reside.

By contrast, those who voted for Gov. Romney were mainly white rural and suburban church-going men -- the old America where power has resided for centuries.

All one had to do was view the audiences at the political conventions or the election night victory parties. One audience represented the rainbow of American diversity, while the other was predominately older white men and their wives.

This is a problem for Republicans. Within a couple of decades, Euroamericans will cease to be the country’s majority group. The GOP’s right-wing conservative views -- whether or not you agree with them -- are on the wrong side of history.

The new pluralist America embraces Wiccans, Mormons, Muslims, atheists, Hindus, Jews and humanists as citizens of good will, not as pawns of Satan. The new pluralist America encourages women to speak for themselves and not “wage a war” that assumes to speak for them.

The new pluralist America recognizes that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender are U.S. citizens with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that come with being an American. The new pluralist America understands that the deregulation of Wall Street in the 1980s has led to economic collapse.

The new pluralist America believes in education and science and sees the greatest threat to the human race is our deteriorating environment, and that as citizens of this world we must search and implement solutions.

Regardless of your political leaning, Republicans are in trouble. The GOP makeup consists of a demographic that is rapidly shrinking.

Hijacked by a nativist Tea Party, the party now finds itself out of step with the fastest-growing segments of the American public -- in other words, the future. Among the fastest-growing group, Hispanics, Romney underperformed by a 44-point margin. In heavy Hispanic populace states like Nevada, Colorado and apparently Florida, this margin was enough to push Obama over the finish line.

Without all the anti-immigrant rhetoric voiced by GOP candidates during the primary debates, Romney would have been far more appealing to Latina/os. For many Hispanics a vote for Obama had less to do with committed enthusiasm for his presidency than with the sheer terror of the racist and anti-ethnic undergirding of the Tea Party to the GOP.

Without the Tea Party’s role in the primaries forcing Romney to move to the far right, he would have been a more formidable presidential opponent. Likewise, several of those Tea Party candidates who won primaries ended up costing the GOP the Senate. Moderate Republicans – like Olympia Snowe and Richard Lugar – are an endangered species. 

Unless the GOP rediscovers its lost moderate voice, it will become extinct -- a shell of the past now better known for theocratic philosophy (rape is a gift from God), defense of Wall Street (tax breaks for the wealthy at the expense of everyone else) and obstructionist methodology (Mitch McConnell’s top priority of making Obama a one-term president).

Because this country works best through the discourse and compromises of different political views, the loss of an effective political alternative will in the long run also hurt the Democrats.

Tea Party political fanaticism -- worse when combined with religious zeal -- is a great threat to democracy. Only the ignorant believe their political view or party is never wrong -- ironically the same stance taken by the totalitarian regimes they supposedly despise.

This week after the election, let us pray for the sake of the Republican Party (as well as the rest of the country) that the arrogance, bigotry and close-mindedness of the Tea Party are finally exorcized. We can do better than fear.

OPINION: Views expressed in Baptist News Global columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.