Unsustainable Trends in the GOP

James Joyner reflects thoughtfully on Jon Huntsman’s campaign and suggests that a post-Tea Party-madness era will come when candidates such as the Utah governor are popular in the GOP again:

It’s pretty obvious to dispassionate observers that the trend of the last twenty years or so is unsustainable if the GOP is to remain a nationally competitive party. Cultural and demographic changes are such that relying on Southern whites and a social message stuck in 1980 will mean permanently ceding the White House and the Senate to Democrats. While Ron Paul-style isolationism will never appeal to a majority of Americans, neither will perpetual war. While safeguarding our borders and enforcing our laws will remain popular, policies and rhetoric that come across as anti-Hispanic will not. And, as the younger generation supplants the older one at the ballot box, anti-gay, anti-science talk will come across as positively alien.

Joyner thinks this train could take a while to arrive, but certain demographic and fiscal factors may bring it home faster than he projects. Republican Party members are not just disproportionately Southern, they are also disproportionately over the age of 60. The Tea Party platform is to balance the federal budget without raising taxes or reducing defense spending. There is one and only one way to do that: Slash federal spending on the elderly. That would drive down Republican support among senior citizens to the point that the GOP would have to either extrude the Tea Party toxin or fade from the national stage.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University. He served as a senior policy advisor at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from 2009 to 2010.