While Republican leaders console themselves that they salvaged control of the House from the defeat of
The course of the
At the same time, the country has been becoming more Hispanic, more Asian and, in many major cities, more African-American. Yet it has remained essentially a two-party nation, with the Republicans and
In recent years, however, racial and ethnic minorities have been drawn steadily to the Democratic Party, which successfully branded itself as the champion of the urban poor and struggling. As combative as these two parties have been — and they have become more so in recent years — they have successfully withstood occasional efforts of weak third parties to break through.
The Progressives of TR and of Henry Wallace, the self-financing Ross Perot and the driven Ralph Nader all have tried to crack the Republican-Democratic hold on the system, with little to show for their efforts. As Tuesday's results suggest, the GOP appears imperiled not by any third party as by growing ethnic minorities in the population that see no acceptance or future for themselves in it. In the last four years, the Hispanic vote has increased by 4 million souls, most flocking to Democratic ranks.
In retrospect at least, the Republican Party may have been hard-pressed to find a standard-bearer more unlikely to be acceptable to these constituencies of immigrant background than Willard Mitt Romney. The 2012 presidential nominee, a white and aristocratic multimillionaire, was easily portrayed by his political foes as a capitalistic preyer on the poor, the middle class and the recently arrived to our shores.
Mr. Romney's proposal that illegal immigrants go back to their countries of origin, and to the end of the line there to apply for legal immigration, was dubbed self-deportation by Democratic wordsmiths. It further marked him as a reason for Hispanic-Americans to vote Democratic this year.
At this summer's
According to exit polls by the data firm Edison Research, 59 percent of white voters surveyed said they voted for Mr. Romney to 39 percent for President
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich observed in a television interview the morning after the elections that the Republican Party would have to address the perception that it is a predominantly a white men's club. But that is a timeworn observation, going back to the late GOP Congressman Jack Kemp's inclusive big-tent theory as the road to party survival and eventual dominance.
More apparent now than ever before, the clock is ticking on the Republican Party's imperative to adopt policies that pay more than lip service to racial and ethnic minorities. With the re-elected President Obama vowing to deliver real immigration reform in his second term, the Republicans would be wise to get aboard instead of continuing to leave themselves badly outnumbered at the voting booth in ethnic and minority precincts.