I have been hearing about the permanent realignment theory for years and have never been comfortable with it. Occasional commenter Superdestroyer has been an early advocate of this view, as exemplified in comments here as well as at The Moderate Voice and other blogs. To me it smacks of racism, and I find this notion of ethnicity as an absolute determinant of electoral destiny to be offensive. The explicit assumption is this: Since Latino's voted overwhelmingly Democratic in the last election, they will always vote Democratic. Moreover, minorities will always vote based predominantly on their race, and not as individuals. I just don't accept the premise. As a consequence, I was pretty dismissive of Superdestroyer when he did make an appearance here. Now I find his thesis is mainstream conventional wisdom. Who knew?
"...the numbers tell a clear story; the demographics of America are changing in a way that is deadly for the Republican Party as it exists today. A GOP ice age is on the way. Demographic change is irritating to politicos, since it works on elections much as rigged dice do on a Las Vegas craps table: it is a game changer... In 1980, Latino voters cast about 2% of all votes. Last year it was 9%, and Obama won that Hispanic vote with a crushing 35-point margin. By 2030, the Latino share of the vote is likely to double. In Texas, the crucial buckle for the GOP's Electoral College belt, the No. 1 name for new male babies — many of whom will vote one day — is Jose. Young voters are another huge GOP problem. Obama won voters under 30 by a record 33 points. And the young voters of today, while certainly capable of changing their minds, do become all voters tomorrow."
Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics also isn't buying it. In his post "There are no permanent majorities" he recaps the arguments against the conventional "permanent realignment" wisdom, invoking the American voters preference for divided government as one of several thoughtful and well documented reasons not to put too much stock in the theory...
That said, Murphy does have some very good advice for the GOP:
"Americans are seemingly very reluctant to give true majorities to either party. Since FDR left the scene, Americans have given unified control to a party for four years or more only three times: 1949-52, 1961-66, and 2001-06 ... I don’t know if this is part of a conscious effort on the part of Americans to achieve divided government, or if governing America is an impossible task, such that the President’s party always gets punished. There’s certainly a strong argument for the latter – after all, no President since Teddy Roosevelt has left office with more Congressmen of his own party than he had the day he entered office. Regardless of the cause, the fact that unified government is so rare should give further pause to those who expect our current arrangement in Washington to survive for an extended period."
Reasonable arguments and sensible advice. This approach, combined with common sense fiscal responsibility ( Like the rhetoric that Obama ran on in the campaign, but has now been completely abandoned by the President and the Democratic party) should appeal to any rational voter - regardless of skin color or ethnic identity.
"Young voters need to see a GOP that is more socially libertarian, particularly toward gay rights... Latinos need to see a quick end to the Republican congressional jihad on immigration... the GOP should support practical immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship."
UPDATED: 04-July-09 Added links and fixed typos.