by Stan Cutler
White men dominate the ranks of the Republican Party. Even with a candidate more acceptable to multiracial, multiethnic, multireligious, multi-gender America – someone other than Trump – they would still be likely to lose in November because they don’t have the numbers.
The demographic character of the GOP could change if the party imposed diversity rules on candidate selection procedures, but to do so would be “social engineering,” “affirmative action,” “politically correct.” Republicans are caught on the horns of an insoluble political dilemma because their philosophy prohibits them from taking the only actions that could save them from extinction.
The Republican and Democratic Parties select delegates to their presidential nominating conventions in fundamentally different ways. The Democrats’ delegations approximate target demographic percentages (white, black, Hispanic, LGBT, disabled, etc.) based upon each state’s census. The RNC has no such rules.
The Democratic Party is diverse because of affirmative action imposed by its national committee. The Republican Party leadership presumes that GOP policies are acceptable to all right-thinking voters, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or other distinctions. That which Democrats believe to be fundamental to their politics is scorned by Republicans as political correctness.
There will be 2,472 delegates to the Republican Convention in Cleveland. The Republican Party requires three delegates from every Congressional District. Pennsylvania has 18 Districts, thus 54 District Delegates. Additionally, every state selects at least 10 at-large delegates (14 allotted for Pennsylvania). And every state gets three delegates who are assigned by the RNC.
Pennsylvania will, therefore, have 71 voting delegates at the convention that begins on July 18 in Cleveland. Of these, only the 17 at-large and RNC-appointed delegates are obligated by rule to vote for the winner of the presidential primary, Trump, who won with 57 percent of the votes statewide. Theoretically, all 54 of the District Delegates could vote for someone other than Trump. Representing our 2nd Congressional District are a white man, Aaron Cohen; an African-American man, Calvin Tucker; and a white woman, Elizabeth Havey.
The Democratic Party Convention will consist of 4,765 voting delegates. The number of delegates allotted to each state is proportional to Democratic turnout in recent elections. There will be 127 delegates from Pennsylvania, representing 2.66 percent of the 2012 national Democratic vote total. Our 2nd Congressional District will be represented by more delegates (14) than any other in Pennsylvania because more votes were cast for Obama in the 2nd than in any other district.
Democratic Party rules specify that half the delegates must be women. The State Committee determines whether the male or the female gets the extra vote in districts allotted an odd number of delegates. At the 2016 convention, 64 of Pennsylvania’s elected delegates will be women, 63 men. If you voted in the April 26 primary, the gender of a delegate supporting Sanders and Clinton was marked next to her or his name.
So the conventions will be distinctly different, representing different approaches to representative democracy, resulting in significantly different mixtures of people. The Republican rules are “color blind” and “gender-neutral.” It is left to the Republicans in each district to assemble a primary ballot of convention delegates that they think represents their constituency. Since most Republican constituencies are white, and more male than female, the Republican Convention will be dominated by white men. Diversity, to the extent that it will exist in Cleveland, will not be by design.
Most political observers agree that the Republican Party’s strength will decline nationally as the percentage of Americans who are white declines in proportion to Hispanics, Asians, other immigrant populations, and African-Americans. There was much talk about this among the pundits following the 2012 Obama victory, after which the RNC sponsored a campaign “autopsy.”
The political pathologists who dissected the 2012 defeat predicted inevitable and evermore lopsided Republican losses in presidential elections unless the party actively attracted minority voters. The autopsy urged changes in Republican legislative policies regarding immigration, changes in rhetoric, and changes in grass-roots outreach to demonstrate the party’s welcome acceptance of nonwhite, non-male Americans.
If the 2016 general election results in significant Republican losses, there is likely to be another autopsy. But regardless of who’s at the top of the Republican ticket, there are simply not enough Republicans to win a presidential election. The time may have arrived when the Republican Party undertakes internal affirmative action, when necessity requires them to become “politically correct,” when the prospect of extinction forces them to impose another kind of politics on their loyalists. That will not be easy.
Hill resident and writer Stan Cutler has been writing about the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, which he plans to cover for the Local in July.