Since taking the presidency by surprise back in November, the Republican Party has been salivating on the unexpected opportunity laying before them — control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.
Even with the oddly unconventional behavior of the newly elected President Trump for them to juggle, Republicans recognize a mostly unobstructed opportunity to do what they like for at least the next two years.
This situation is a far cry from the 2013 post-election autopsy and self-diagnosis produced by the Party in the aftermath of the 2012 election. The report, a post-mortem designed to identify what had gone wrong in Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat, also served as a prescription for how to recalibrate and move forward. Much of the report focused on needed outreach to women and minorities, immigration reform, and softening language to become a more inclusive and tolerant party.
But that 2013 game plan has since been shoved to the back of the Republican junk drawer. Republicans are celebrating their victory, and sharpening the knives to make good on Trump campaign promises — even the really questionable ones.
Lost on the Party during this, however, would seem to be that they are statistically experiencing the ultimate political “dead cat bounce”.
The term comes from stock markets and refers to a sequence of events where a stock sees a temporary and brief recovery after a severe and prolonged decline, followed by a return to that same decline. The short recovery was really just a mirage as the underlying problems still exist, returning the stock to its initial, inertial freefall.
The key to understanding this phenomenon for the Republican Party is to look at changing U.S. demographics.
Minorities increasingly comprise larger shares of the U.S. population with Hispanics and African-Americans currently making up 17.6% and 13.3 % of the population, respectively. When accounting for all minorities in the U.S., whites now make up just 61.6% of the population.
And that last percentage is shrinking. The U.S. Census Bureau now estimates that by 2044, no race or ethnicity in the U.S. will represent a majority of the population…and that includes whites. This sort of rapidity of a country’s population composition changing seems to be unprecedented.
Even now, much of the so called Republican majority in the House is because of extensive and widespread gerrymandering. It’s going to get worse, as will voter suppression but even then, it only goes so far. That being said, expect the United States to slide further and further into the “flawed democracy” category that The Economist has put them in before it gets better. Never underestimate the desire of those in power to hold onto it.