Future Trends in the Politics

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Mar 09, 2007 8:48 AM

Almost every day (it seems) there is a new story out about how the blogosphere or YouTube is going to change politics.  I enjoy those stories, but always feel that there is more to tell.  The problem is that these stories usually play-up the new bells and whistles, but rarely delve into looking at deeper political trends.

With that in mind, following are just a few of my thoughts regarding emerging political trends for the future.  In this post, I've chosen to write about how these trends will impact the GOP ...

... In ‘08

What does history say about the GOP's chances in 2008?  With the exception of George W. Bush’s election in 1988 (Reagan’s 3rd term), there is a strong trend of parties holding the White House for no more than two terms. In 2008, the trend is not our friend.

... On New Voters

How about the youth of America?  The theory of “political socialization” says that many people acquire their political identities at the age of 18 (when they first become eligible to vote). Once a person has assumed a political identity, so the theory goes, they often never relinquish it. For example, people who turned 18 in the 1940s (during FDR's administration) are strongly Democrat, while people who turned 18 in the 1980s (Ronald Reagan's presidency) tend to be Republicans. The bad news is that Republicans lost young voters in both ’04 and ’06. Based on this theory, President Bush’s unpopularity may have long-term implications.

... On Geography

What part of America will dominate the GOP in the future?  For much of the 20th century, the GOP was dominated by North-Easterners (the party was, thus, more liberal). After about 1960, the party’s power-base moved to the South (as such, the party shifted strongly toward cultural conservatism). If you look at the population trends, the future may be in the West. This would imply conservative/libertarian “fusionism” could again become vogue.

... On Dynasties

More Bush Presidents?  This isn’t original to me, but since 1948, with one exception (1964) a Nixon, Dole, or Bush has been on every GOP national ticket. Americans fought a war against imposed monarchy, but still enjoy elevating our own elites (of course, some of our elites, like Richard Nixon, come from humble beginnings). While the names may change, America (and the GOP) will likely continue to anoint certain families to lead the country. (Don’t count Jeb bush out, yet.)

... On African-Americans & the GOP

Will African-Americans continue to vote Democrat in such overwhelming percentages?  Unlike many political tactics, micro-targeting, is a very healthy trend that encourages more participation in Democracy. Traditionally, campaigns focused their limited resources on voters they deem to be both likely voters and persuadable voters. Often times, they used geography to determine which geographic areas to target (and which areas to ignore). Republicans would spend money in “swing” precincts, but completely ignore entire neighborhoods perceived to be “Democrat” enclaves (in some cases, these were predominantly Black neighborhoods). While this might be a smart short-term strategy, over time, this strategy meant that both sides were "writing off" their perceived opponents' base. The good news is that micro-targeting allows Republican campaigns to go into Democrat enclaves and communicate with individual voters who lean Republican. In my estimation, treating people as individuals (as opposed to making group assumptions) is a good thing. And it should make both parties more diverse.

... On Freedom

Will technology give us more freedom -- or less?  More than fifty years ago, William F. Buckley famously founded National Review as a medium to “stand athwart history, yelling Stop.” Likewise, when Whittaker Chambers quit Communism and became a conservative, he felt as if he was “leaving the winning side for the losing side.” Of course, back then, a small number of media outlets controlled all news, and most Americans worked for a big company who “took care of them.” Things have changes since them. Fifty years ago, history was against us. I’m optimistic that history is largely now on our side. For example, today, more Americans earn their living from eBay than the steel industry. It will be difficult persuade people who are used to buying stock on their laptops that they cannot decide how to manage their own healthcare.  This trend should obviously bode well for the GOP.

These are my opinions.  Let me know your thoughts on the subject .