The alliance of business interests and social conservatism may no longer be politically viable.
Excerpts from column by THOMAS B. EDSALL, New York Times
If the conservative movement continues on its downward trajectory, the American business community, which has the most to lose from Republican failure, will be the key force arguing for moderation.
The problem that faces business leaders pressing for reform is not just the normal reluctance of a political party to change. Instead, it is the fact that much of the Republican electorate, as presently constructed, is profoundly committed — morally and ideologically — to “traditional values.” You’re asking groups of people to change who were brought together by their resistance to change. Their opposition to change is why they are Republicans.
The right coalition includes a subset of conservatives determined to preserve white hegemony. Add to that social conservatives who oppose both the women’s rights and gay rights movements, and the religiously observant who are dead set against burgeoning secularism and what they see as the erosion of faith in public life.
...At the moment, reactionary forces have a death grip on the Republican Party, and their power has been cemented by the party’s institutionalization of closed primaries and caucuses (neither independents nor Democrats can participate) in more than half the states.
Republican opponents of change also hold on to the hope that the American economy will be mired in a period of slow growth, damaging to whichever party is in power. The premise of this strategy is that hard-pressed voters will turn on the Democrats.
...The major factor encouraging Republican inertia is that the party’s setbacks have not reached the crisis stage; it still controls the House 233 to 200 (there are two current vacancies).
That majority rests on the weak reed of gerrymandering, however, and on the high concentration of Democratic voters in urban areas. Democratic House candidates actually won the popular vote by one million more votes than Republicans, 56 million to 55 million.
In North Carolina, Bloomberg news found that Democrats won 2.22 million votes to 2.14 million cast for Republican candidates, but Republicans won 9 of the state’s 13 House seats. Similarly, in Pennsylvania, Democrats won 2.7 million votes to the Republicans’ 2.6 million, but Democrats ended up with only 5 of the state’s 18 districts. [Read the full article]
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