Noemie Emery: GOP defeats death by diversifying 

"Women are coming to rescue the Republican Party," said the Hill's A.B. Stoddard last Wednesday, and it seems she is right.

Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina are running in California; Sharon Angle is fighting Harry Reid in Nevada; wise Latina Susana Martinez is running for governor in nearby New Mexico.

In South Carolina running for governor, Nikki Haley, a daughter of Indian immigrants, trounced a field of three men.

A couple of creeps said she committed adultery, and people ignored them; another called her a "raghead," and her popularity rose. At the same time and also in South Carolina, black conservative Tim Scott beat a son of Strom Thurmond in a congressional primary, and has been endorsed by Reps. Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. (If he wins, he may be joined in the House by a conservative black Iraqi war veteran, Florida's Allen West.)

This again is in South Carolina, home of secession and nullification, home of John C. Calhoun and Strom Thurmond, the place where rows over the placement of the Confederate flag on the grounds of the state capitol have been raging for decades. Win or lose, these people will spend many years as the face of the modern Republican Party, which will be much more female, much younger, and brown.

Diversity has struck the Republican Party, but to the parties it means different things. Democrats see it as an end in itself, to be attained via quotas, followed by lawsuits. Republicans see it as the means to an end, i.e., more good candidates, to be gained by unfettered free enterprise.

Democrats organize themselves by identity interests; Republicans by ideology, beside which all else is irrelevant. Republicans never claim they are spokesmen at large for their race or their gender; Democrats do it incessantly. They seem to believe this is true.

Republican women are extremely diverse when it comes to abortion, and the Republican slice of the nonpale population may tend less to black than to brown. Polls show that about 5 percent of Tea Party members are black (as opposed to about 12 percent of the population in general), which seems surprisingly high in view of the fact that this demographic is not strongly inclined toward limited government.

Small government, on the other hand, sits well with emigres from East Asia, who a) are not burdened by grievance-based interest groups, and b) when they get here, tend to set up small businesses and favor low taxes that spur their success.

"Because Democrats put more of an emphasis on identity politics, [you] have to contend with other constituencies who might think ... it's 'their turn,' " says the Hoover Institute's Tunku Varadarajan, adding that success rests more on the size of one's ethnic constituency than on the value of one's ideas. No one counts on the "Indian vote" to elect Nikki Haley, which is the best thing about her.

For these reasons, Republicans has the country's only Vietnamese congressman, and may soon have its only two Indian governors, when Haley joins Bobby Jindal, R-La., now building his profile fighting the Gulf oil spill. He may appear before long on a national ticket, as may Marco Rubio (parents from Cuba), if he wins his race for the Senate in Florida. If he, Scott, West and Haley all win their races, this will be a very New South.

In Nixon's day, "southern strategy" meant a coded appeal to fear and resentment, but this was before Indian power swept through the home of Calhoun and the cajuns. It now means something quite new and different -- the diverse and improved GOP.

Examiner columnist Noemie Emery is contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."

About The Author

Noemie Emery

Pin It

More by Noemie Emery

Latest in Guest Columns

© 2019 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation