Are identity politics taking over the GOP too?
The notion seems preposterous on its face (pardon the pun). If there’s any such thing as an ideologically-based faction in the U.S. today, it’s the Republican Party. There’s no denying that sizeable majorities of practically every minority group characteristically choose Democrats at election time, yet with demographic trends rapidly leading away from the Grand Old Party’s traditional base, it only makes sense for conservatives to do more to attract additional votes from ethnic constituencies.
The question is how to go about it, and most importantly, not look like the Democrats do in the endeavor. Liberals don’t even try to hide their surface obsession pandering any longer -- they’re front and center with accusations of racism and bias if the image isn’t maintained. Recall that it was a year ago this time when Grampa Joe -- now President Biden -- announced that he’d select a female for his running mate if he secured the primary victory (wink, wink -- everyone knew the party nomination was a shoe-in when the old pol said it, including his lone remaining rival, Bernie Sanders).
Shorty after, it became clear that Biden couldn’t halt his identity politics blitz at the gender door. As soon as America’s cities erupted in violence and mayhem after the very public death of George Floyd in late May, Biden’s list was effectively culled even further for him. Not only would the mentally slipping 77-year-old be tapping a woman for his number two, he’d have to go with a minority, too. All eyes turned towards the shrunken pool of qualified candidates and the only name that spit out of the machine was Senator Kamala Harris.
Who else would he ask, Stacey Abrams? Huge shock when the broken-down basement dweller asked Harris to do it, right?
At any rate, similar thinking is taking place in the Republican Party these days. With former president Donald Trump tossing out poorly disguised hints that he intends to run again in three years, a lot of observers are suggesting he’d be ethnically pigeon-holed to follow Biden’s lead. Could it be that Republicans are becoming tied down to identity politics too? Rob Crilly reported at the Washington Examiner:
“Former President Donald Trump is barely out of the White House, let alone declaring he will actually run for a second term. Yet, the starting gun was seemingly fired [last] week on the race to become the former president's running mate in 2024, with advisers suggesting his best chance of reclaiming the office resides in choosing a black or female sidekick...
“...Bloomberg reported that close advisers were telling Trump to exclude Pence from a possible 2024 ticket. Instead, they raised the possibility of a black or female vice president, with two backing South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who is popular with the Trump base...
“The Bloomberg report was dismissed as ‘fake news’ by Trump spokesman Jason Miller. But analysts say it makes sense for the party to consider how to expand its coalition next time around. Costas Panagopoulos, chairman of Northeastern University’s Department of Political Science, said: ‘Women and minorities are a clear vulnerability [for Republicans electorally], so any efforts to make inroads with these segments of the voting population could be helpful. But GOP policies will also need to be calibrated to support these groups. Otherwise, such choices could be viewed as superficial and purely politically motivated and could backfire.’”
First off, it’s certainly no given that Trump is going to run again. The New York outsider said at CPAC he’s considering launching it, but here’s thinking he wouldn’t pull the proverbial trigger on a third try until he’s sure he can win the general election. Trends indicate Trump’s in the driver’s seat for the GOP nomination now -- if he wants it -- but we’re not yet in mid-March (2021), not even two months since he left the White House.
Meanwhile, Biden’s approval rating hovers around fifty percent in the most reliable polls, so at the moment he’s still enjoying his electoral honeymoon. However, with the man’s having called conservative governors “Neanderthals” last week and the absolute unraveling disaster at the southern border drawing coverage from even the liberal news outlets, Grampa Joe’s popularity is on shaky ground. It will invariably nosedive at some point, though Democrat core voters love every minute of his constitution-trampling dictatorship.
Couple this with the fact America still hasn’t gotten a full glimpse of Kamala Harris yet, and there’s only so much the Democrats can do to hide their vulnerabilities.
So is Trump really thinking that far ahead, or is he focusing more on how to take revenge on the impeachment RINOs while keeping the party establishment under close watch? This would seem to be the epicenter of his interest these days.
The former president did come out with an early endorsement for Senator Tim Scott recently. The African-American South Carolina senator was also given a prominent role at last summer’s Republican convention and was recognized as a leader in Trump’s effort to improve inner city business prospects.
But there are a number of good woman or minority candidates should the occasion arrive.
At the same time, it doesn’t appear there would be any great urgency to bring Mike Pence back for the position. Pence didn’t go to CPAC and has only spoken out a couple times since the fiasco on January 6. But the grassroots isn’t signaling they’d favor a return of the Trump/Pence ticket, either. Pence only got one percent in the CPAC presidential straw poll. There just isn’t anything there.
Assuming that the establishment’s worst nightmare would happen -- Trump winning the nomination again in 2024 -- there would be a huge push among the old remnants of the Bush GOP to choose the wishy-washy Indian-American woman Nikki Haley to “counterbalance” the ticket and foster “unity” in the party. Purveyors of this line of thinking would point to Ronald Reagan resisting pressure to go with an all-conservative combo in 1980, instead opting to add George H.W. Bush to his ticket.
As demonstrated by the 2020 election and events since, the Republican ruling class doesn’t hold much sway in Donald Trump’s party any longer. With several more appealing options facing the nominee, the views of the bluebloods aren’t important as they once were. Memories of Bush, McCain and Romney Republicans actively working against Trump during his five years are still fresh in his mind. They should save their breath.
The most logical non-white male choice -- and also most likely as of now -- would be South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. As everyone is aware, Noem resisted countless calls by the Kens and Karens of Washington to shut down her state like the blue state governors were doing. Noem wouldn’t have any of it. As a result, her state -- and her reputation -- survived intact. If “identity politics” would have any role in a Trump 2024 candidacy, one can envision the man announcing her place on the ticket in front of Mount Rushmore.
It’s doubtful that any Republican minority or female vice president candidate would engender the same kind of adoration from the identity crowd as liberal Kamala Harris did last year. But if “diversifying” the GOP faces at the top would add a few percentage points to the ticket, it might be worth giving the prospect a good long look.
Sen. Tim Scott
Trump 2024 running mate