A Wave of Changes (of more or lesser importance)
Every lost election sets off a wave of debates, blaming and eventually new strategy-setting. This wave is now hitting the Republican Party – and hard. How much in its path will be wiped off and the extent of the ensuing change is still uncertain but potentially big.
If they are driven to change, it is, to most accounts, because the American electorate has a new face. The Latino and Afro-American communities who usually do not make use of their electoral rights have in bigger shares wielded their power and gone to the polls. The Republican’s inability to relate and appeal to these minorities is thus by now commonly identified as the reason for their loss.
As said, this could have far-reaching impacts; the first one being the opportunity for professors to update that Political Economy problem set they have been handing out for years. These elections mark indeed the era of a new Median Voter Theorem case study. If analysts are right, what we are observing in the United States is indeed nothing else than a shift of the electorate. Naturally, this accounts for a shift of the Median Voter. Our theorem tells us to expect the political actors to accordingly change their ideology and adopt that of the new median voter. And this is what we see unraveling – and at an amazing pace.
It was just a question of days after the electoral results before the GOP establishment started formulating new objectives. On the Thursday of the same week, House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans in Congress said they want to consider broad changes to immigration laws next year. We have since not stopped hearing about these measures meant to appeal to the Latino community and this is just the beginning. How far right-of-the-center the Republicans will remain by the time of the next presidential elections is the new debate.
Although the GOP-establishment embraces the change, it is not the case for everybody in the party. In those same days following the election results, Tea-Party members blamed the loss on the Republican Establishment for having been weak on the party’s hard-line. They certainly do not seem to think the right change is to go left.
Since whatever antagonism within the Republican Party that already existed before the elections will only get stronger, we can ponder as to whether these two starkly opposite conceptions can cohabit under the same political umbrella. It is not too farfetched to expect a swiping internal struggle and an eventual schism.
Going back to our Political Economy models, the end of bipartisan America with a right-of-right-of-center third party would fragment the republican electorate and alienate the Grand Old Party (which would by then just be called the Old Party). These would be gloomy times for the Republicans and bright ones for the Democrats – in the short run. In the medium run, this would open the door for parties to the left of the Democrats, such as the Greens, to do a more serious incursion in politics. In a simplistic model, that party would have at least as much chance to win as the Tea-Party, and even maybe as both Republicans and Democrats.
The shift in Median Voter we are witnessing could prove to be a tremendous change for the American political landscape. This change would however be meek in comparison to that that will take place in our problem-sets to come.