Analysis: Voting over, Ga. GOP facing long-term challenge

AP/ Curtis Compton
Constance Lord,. cente of Columbus, Ga., reacts as presidential returns favoring President Obama are announced at the Democratic Party of Georgia's 2012 Victory Party at The Depot in Atlanta on Tuesday
Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012 9:31 AM
Last updated 6:46 PM
  • Follow Elections

ATLANTA -- Tuesday’s election results leave Georgia’s political leaders facing a question with three options.

Republicans spent all fall pooh-poohing national polls that showed President Barack Obama ahead because they said the pollsters were wrongly assuming that blacks, Hispanics and Asian voters would turn out at the same level as they had in 2008. Well, the pollsters were correct after all.

That means ‘08 wasn’t a fluke but the start of a trend, one that is driven by a demographic steam engine that continues to barrel forward, disrupting 236 years of political dominance by mostly men who trace their ancestry to Western Europe.

In recent years, the political parties have cleft along racial lines, and Tuesday’s voting followed that pattern.

So, the white Republican men who hold every top elected office in this state can either (a.) modify their positions enough to win support from voters of color, (b.) convince voters of color to modify their positions, or (c.) eventually become a permanent minority.

Republicans tend to hold fast to their principles, and the tea-party movement in recent years helped elect many strong conservatives to the Legislature. These stalwarts, especially the junior members, aren’t inclined to modify their stance on anything, and they don’t even mind bucking their own leadership if it strays from the ideological path.

But the GOP didn’t pick up the seats it expected that would have given the super majority needed to pass constitutional amendments without any Democratic votes. So, it will at least have to compromise in those instances.

Instead of moving to the center with the aim of assuring GOP relevance after the demographic tide swamps Georgia, the staunch conservatives are rushing to complete their agenda before they lose power. Of course, the more they pass, the more they hasten their departure.

Republicans will argue that polls show many people of color hold conservative positions on social issues, offering hope they can one day be swung into the GOP camp. What that ignores is that economic issues take a top priority for people of color, and they process the issues differently.

For example, when Republicans offer legislation to require drug tests of welfare recipients, they describe it as a social issue to stop the government from subsidizing illegal addictions. People of color view it as an economic issue because it will make it harder for people like them to get government benefits they’re otherwise entitled to.

When former state Rep. Sue Burmeister, R-Augusta, introduced the first bill to require a photo ID when voting shortly after the GOP took control of the House, the Wisconsin native expressed genuine surprise that black lawmakers would suggest it was racially motivated. Such political insensitivity only hampers efforts by GOP pragmatists to broaden the base.

After the protests and speeches that pointed out how people of color felt -- again viewing voting as an economic issue -- Republicans did not modify their position but instead introduced more bills verifying the citizenship of voters, college students, private workers and government beneficiaries. Each drove another nail into the GOP coffin.

If Republicans got busy and sparked a baby boom, they would still have trouble keeping up with the population explosion of people of color which will tip the balance before the members of that baby boom reached voting age.

In local politics, whites have tried consolidating cities and counties, most recently in Macon/Bibb County, and those around Atlanta have created majority white cities as enclaves within black-run counties.

On the state level, redistricting has held the Democratic tide in check in most places for now, but with some notable exceptions. It was supposed to snuff out U.S. Rep. John Barrow, the last white Democrat in the Deep South, yet he prevailed Tuesday, perhaps in part because a four-person primary led to the nomination of the least articulate candidate to challenge him.

Instead of exterminating Barrow, perhaps Republicans should take notes from him on how to appeal to both conservative whites and voters of color at the same time.

Redistricting of the legislative map didn’t work its magic reliably.

“With a strategic ground game, we won 60 races, including four that the Republicans did not expect and where we were running on GOP-drawn lines and with a fraction of their resources,” said House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams.

The people of color have their own challenges. They must stop electing incompetent or unethical people. The black majority in Chatham County elected its first black district attorney four years ago, Larry Chisolm, and then booted him Tuesday for repeated incompetence. Likewise in Clayton County where voters had elected their first black sheriff eight years ago, Victor Hill, then ejected him in the next election for ethics problems, only to put him back into office Tuesday because his replacement was incompetent, meaning they re-elected a man with multiple indictments who’s legally ineligible from serving.

Plus, Clayton County’s school board members were just the first of several in which people of color have been removed for ethical problems.

As Republicans rehash Tuesday’s presidential results, they are likely to initially grasp at the least disturbing explanation, that Mitt Romney executed poorly. It’s easier to blame the candidate than to have to confront the three choices. Some pragmatists will note that option (b.) hasn’t worked to convince voters of color to change their views, and so they will push for the first option, the hardest because it requires compromise and personal change.

How the party makes its choice, here in Georgia and nationally, will be interesting to watch in the coming months.

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soapy_725 11/07/12 - 11:44 am
When the majority of your country

has a third world culture mentality, what do you expect. It is the state that provides everything. Our leader, our journalists and even some religious leaders declare it is so. The Republicans had to put some one in the race. Play the game. Create the drama of a bygone historical event. The right to vote by secret ballot. Spend the billions of none productive dollars. And loath on the rich. The rich even loath themselves. After all we are a two party system. Right?

soapy_725 11/07/12 - 11:46 am
Take heart America

Obama may be the last POTUS you will know and once great America will become a third world country (remember that is his heritage, dream and passion), but Almighty God is still on the throne of this Universe.

itsanotherday1 11/07/12 - 12:00 pm
Tell it like it is Mr. Jones.

Tell it like it is Mr. Jones.

allhans 11/07/12 - 01:39 pm
I think it is a shame that a

I think it is a shame that a person seeking political office has to pander to certain groups to win an election. What has happened to the term "Americans". Aren't we all to be treated the same....
Sorry, but I just don't get it. I know pandering will have to be done..but what a pity.

Buckmode 11/07/12 - 01:45 pm
Yes, but...

"In recent years, the political parties have cleft along racial lines, and Tuesday’s voting followed that pattern." Yes, and the Republicans are still in power, a long way from becoming a "permanent minority." Barrow's win was due more to a poor challenger than anything he has accomplished in Congress. Georgia Republicans may not have their super majority in the legislature, but do you honestly believe they won't be able to pick up 1 or 2 (or more) Democratic votes on many issues? I do agree about blacks electing unethical or incompetent candidates. You can see that close to home in Warren County.

T.More 11/07/12 - 02:21 pm
Oh don't hold on to your Principles... Wake Up.

Really? Since you indicate option (b) has failed, you are telling 72.4% of the population to accommodate everyone else. Alternatively, they can get busy having children (a baby boom as you call it) to try to return this country to its origins or the majority must simply fly the white flag. This is nonsense. Why is it that the majority in this country is always asked to make all the concessions?

It is the same concept regarding those with alternate lifestyles. Although most Americans when polled believe ¼ or more of the country is gay/lesbian, the reality per reputable polls is that less than 5% of the population is gay/lesbian. Look it up. Again, the majority 95% is told not only accommodate, but that they also must give special rights to those making certain intimate decisions. Again, this is nonsense.

Tolerate, tolerate, tolerate. The majority has, has, has… When will the majority wake up and say enough is enough. Just look at Richmond Co. elections, the majority of people with color voted for the candidates that shared the same color. The minority of people (white non-Hispanic) in the county still crossed over at a percentage of approximately 1/3 to vote for Sheriff-elect Roundtree and others. They crossed over not once, not twice, but three times if you add in the primaries. I guess they believe they are part of 1 team and 1 dream, wait until they wake up and realize it is a nightmare and that race is the only factor weighed when handing out jobs and discipline on the police force. Again, 1/3 or more of whites crossed over and voted for President Obama. Wait until they realize that moving forward comes off of your labor and your money. When was the last time 1/3 of voters of color crossed over and elected a white instead of an opponent of color? Please someone tell me. I am hungry for answers.

I am tired of hearing the worn out accusation that whites are narrow-minded and must change and accommodate when those of color, as you say, never (I mean never with probably isolated exceptions to the rule) do. When whites vote for a white person they are called closed minded and bigoted. When people of color vote for someone of color, it is simply to be accepted and there is no outcry of prejudice. When was the last time in Georgia that a predominantly white county voted a known crook back into office? In your own article, you indicate that Clayton County that is comprised by a majority of voters of color, put a known crook back into a Sheriff’s position.

So, yes, preach on Mr. Jones. Continue to prey on white guilt and continue to call for “progress.” Where has that progress got us today? Look at unemployment, look at the morals of your local community, just open your eyes up and look at a devastated society with skyrocketing debt, children being raised by grandparents, rampant volumes of children and adults being cared for by Federal/State governments, prisons bursting at the seams, etc. Heaven forbid somebody should have to take a drug test to get free money, food, and housing. I have to work for my money, my housing and my food and I have had plenty of employers that required that I pass drug testing and be available for random drug testing as needed.

Until the people wake up and say this is my country and I will be damned if I buy into the propaganda that the media feeds me; the U.S. will not be raised up to the place of prominence it once enjoyed, but instead will continue to slip educationally, morally, intellectually, etc., and thus, on the world scene at large. So yes, wake up, but not to the propaganda advocated by this article.

Techfan 11/08/12 - 04:51 am
72.4% of the population

According to the 2011 Census the demographics of Ga. are:

Percent of population in Ga. under age 1 that is a non-white:58.8%
Racial and ethnic minorities accounted for 91.7% of the growth in US population, 2000-2010, whites accounted for 8.3% off the growth.

Keep digging in your heels and refusing to compromise or work with the interests of minorities. One day soon that obstinance may come back and bite you on your rear end.

seenitB4 11/08/12 - 05:11 am
Bite us on the rear end...

I feel the bite already.....

So what can the Reps do....say what...I said what can they do...

We can met in the middle---we can have more babies (yeh right)
We can wake up & smell the coffee......we can get out of the uterus....
We can have another civil war (duhhhh)
We can build a wall up at the mason dixon line...I kinda like the dresses they wore during that time.....long flowing Scarlett Ohara type gowns....
But it jest ain't fitin.....jest ain't fitin....
Where are ya Rhett....Tara is burning.....the cows are gone......the crop needs plowing....

We need a new crop of politicians .....some young guys...we will have to include more females----more hispanics---cause I ain't having more babies ferya..

wayne2410 11/08/12 - 06:52 am
T More, I wish I had said

T More, I wish I had said that, you nailed it. We are being broken down to our lowest common denominator and the decline we are seeing of our country is the result. I will miss the America I once knew, it was not perfect but it was pretty darn good and the liberals have thrown it all away for us. Shame, shame, shame on them.

justthefacts 11/08/12 - 07:40 am
Tech's statistics

Yep, we got a problem. One day the entire country will be run like Detroit, Newark, or maybe Mexico City. As always there is opportunity. Buy stock in McDonalds and leave it to your kids. They are going to have to build a bunch of them to employ and feed the masses.

Fundamental_Arminian 11/08/12 - 08:27 am
Wisdom, children needed

The GOP must definitely convince others of the wisdom of conservative ideas. Conservatives must also have more children and rear them right. There's wisdom in Psalm 127:

    3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
    4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children of one's youth.
    5 Blessed is the man
    who fills his quiver with them!
    He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate (ESV).

T.More 11/08/12 - 12:47 pm
Yes. 72.4% of the Country not Georgia.

I am talking big picture here. We see how short sighted our local politics are on a daily basis. This runs deeper than just politics, this is simply telling one segment of the population of this country that they are wrong for being of a certain color and they must disavow their heritage, be ashamed of their color and accept, accommodate, and appease every other race and color.

If rates of population growth are accurate, when the tables are turned and whites become the minority will they receive special rights and be have affirmative action style legislation passed for them? I think not. Richmond Co., Clayton Co., etc. are microcosms of what will happen in the rest of the country. People of color will vote for their own kind 9 out of 10 times, even if they are the majority and even if the candidate is a known crook. 93% of the black vote went to Obama in the U.S. Let us not get started on what percentage of the black vote went to black candidates in Richmond Co. That means only 7% (less than 1 out of 10) voted off. On the other hand 39% (4 out of every 10) of whites crossed the color barrier to vote for Obama. Who is the more tolerant and accepting of the two groups? I think the numbers speak for themselves.

But no, you must do more compromising and more compromising per comments on here and the article itself. Keep drinking the Kool-Aid and wake up one morning with no country and no identity.

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