Last Updated:November 28 @ 07:44 am

Sowell: Is Demography Destiny?

By Thomas Sowell

Some media pundits see in the growing proportion of non-white groups in the population a growing opposition to the Republican Party that will sooner or later make it virtually impossible for Republicans to win presidential elections or even to control either house of Congress.  But is demography destiny?

Conventional wisdom in the Republican establishment is that what the GOP needs to do, in order to win black votes or Hispanic votes, is to craft policies specifically targeting these groups. In other words, Republicans need to become more like Democrats.

Whether in a racial context or in other contexts, the supposed need for Republicans to become more like Democrats has long been a recurring theme of the moderate Republican establishment, going back more than half a century.

Yet the most successful Republican presidential candidate during that long period was a man who went completely counter to that conventional wisdom-- namely, Ronald Reagan, who won back to back landslide election victories.

Meanwhile, moderate Republican presidential candidate after moderate Republican presidential candidate has gone down to defeat, even against Democratic presidential candidates who were unpopular (Harry Truman), previously unknown (Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton) or who had a terrible economic track record (Barack Obama).

None of this seems to have caused any second thoughts in the Republican establishment.  So long as that remains the case, demography may indeed be destiny-- and that destiny could be Democratic administrations as far out as the eye can see.

If non-white voters can only be gotten by pandering to them with goodies earmarked for them, then Republicans are doomed, even if they choose to go that route.  Why should anyone who wants racially earmarked goodies vote for Republicans, when the Democrats already have a track record of delivering such goodies?

An alternative way to make inroads into the overwhelming majority of minority votes for Democrats would be for the Republicans to articulate a coherent case for their principles and the benefits that those principles offer to all Americans.

But the Republicans' greatest failure has been precisely their chronic failure to spell out their principles-- and the track record of those principles-- to either white or non-white voters.,

Very few people know, for example, that the gap between black and white incomes narrowed during the Reagan administration and widened during the Obama administration.  This was not because of Republican policies designed specifically for blacks, but because free market policies create an economy in which all people can improve their economic situation.

Conversely, few policies have had such a devastating effect on the job opportunities of minority youths as minimum wage laws, which are usually pushed by Democrats and opposed by Republicans.  But these facts do not "speak for themselves."  Somebody has to cite the facts and take the trouble to show why unemployment among minority youths skyrocketed when minimum wage increases priced them out of jobs.

The loss of income from an entry-level job is only part of the loss sustained by minority young people.  Work experience at even an entry-level job is a valuable asset, as a stepping stone to progressively higher level jobs.  Moreover, nobody gains from having a huge number of idle youths hanging out on the streets, least of all minority communities.

Labor unions push minimum wage laws to insulate their members from the competition of younger workers, and Democratic politicians are heavily dependent on union support.  For the same reason, Democrats have to go along with teachers' unions that treat schools as places to guarantee their members jobs, rather than to provide the quality education so much needed to rise out of poverty.

What Democrats cannot say under these conditions is what Republicans are free to say-- even if Republicans have seldom taken advantage of that freedom to make inroads into minority voting blocs.  Inroads are all they need.  If the black vote for Democrats falls to 70 percent, the Democrats are in deep trouble.

But if Republicans continue inarticulate, then it is they who are in big trouble. More important, so is the country.


Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is



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  1. JDZComment by JDZ
    November 13, 2012 @ 10:24 am

    I am beginning to hate political parties because they allow for broadbased partisanship, cronyism, generalized assumptions (because one Republican makes a stupid comment about rape…all Republicans are like that), etc. We now have a polarized country that is perpetuated by a stitched together group of self serving special interest groups who call themselves Democrats/liberals and the rest of the country who call themselves Republicans/conservatives.

    We have the entitlement/takers (welfare/food stamp/unemployment/disability/etc) primarily buried within the Democratic umbrella and who, as Romney rightfully stated, will vote Democrat every time because they are afraid Republicans may cut their benefits while they know Democrats want to expand the entitlement community. The Hispanic population, which should be conservatives, have learned to use immigration as a cover for their real interests, which are the “freebies” they can get from the government. The public service unions help perpetuate bigger government because bigger government adds more members, which means more union dues, which means more money to fund election campaigns for Democrats. This incestuous relationship is one of the root causes of the huge and growing budget problems within government at all levels.

    The 55% of women who voted for Obama are young women who believe that “Republicans” want to take their right to choose from them, which is rediculous, bu to them real. This may be the easiest misperception to fix because it is clearly a misrepresentation.

    But, the question is, how does the Republican “umbrella” (conservatives, moderates, evanjelicals, etc.) who encompass most of the “makers” stop the growing entitlement generation, growing public service union membership, socialist activists, environmental extremists, etc. from winning every election looking head? We may have breached a tipping point that no level of improved “messaging” can turn around.

    Maybe the only way enough Americans wake up to what is happening is when enough cities, states, and now, the federal government basically goes bankrupt and can no longer pay it’s bills. Cannot service lavish public service union membership salaries and benefits. Cannot continue giving the 100 million receiving welfare the financial support they are getting. Maybe the public will believe the Republican arguments about how to turn the economy when the government can no longer borrow money to pay its bills or print more money to cover its debts.

    It is like an alcoholic who is in denial until he/she wakes up living on the street with no other options then to acknowledge he/she has a problem and seek help.

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    • cdrcodyComment by cdrcody
      November 13, 2012 @ 1:13 pm

      Thomas Jefferson was against political parties. Now you know why.

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    • cborgersComment by cborgers
      November 13, 2012 @ 6:43 pm

      On these pages, it appears to have become popular to repeat the idea that American society can neatly be divided into “makers” and “takers”.

      How about the trash man who picks up your garbage? Is he a “maker” or a “taker”? He almost certainly belongs to the 47% who don’t owe income tax. Which group do you count him in? How about the person who checks you out in the supermarket? The truck driver who brought your oranges from Florida? The gas station attendant who puts gas into your car? Most of them don’t owe income tax, you know? How about the many veterans who belong to those 47%? Are they “makers” or “takers”? They do get government-sponsored health care. Would you like to take it away from them?

      How about the unemployed? The elderly? They often don’t pay income tax. “Takers”, therefore? In fact, they surely ARE takers, but do you really want to insult them for that? The elderly also get government-sponsored health care, and they seem to like it.

      Before repeating such slogans, think what it is that you are trying to say. Whom exactly do you mean when you talk about the “takers”? Nothing is as bad as slogans repeated without thinking on your own.

      And then, there are the “makers”. The high-income people who pay income tax. Some of them sell pornography, that’s how they make their high income. Are they “makers” in your book? Some of them just buy and sell real estate. Nothing is being “made” there, except money. Do you count them as “makers” nonetheless?

      Romney managed to alienate most of the 47% who don’t pay federal income tax — veterans, elderly, unemployed, janitors, cash register clerks, gas station attendants, truck drivers, the people who fix the potholes in your street, the unemployed. And many people on these pages offend those people further, as if they were trying to make absolutely sure that they will vote Democratic in 2014 and 2016, too.

      All it takes is a few of the high-income people (whom I belong to) to joint the so-called “takers” in voting for the Democrats, and you are left with no chance to win any elections in the future. I think you should re-think all that, and stop repeating a slogan that has already lost once, namely last week Tuesday.

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  2. librabobComment by librabob
    November 13, 2012 @ 11:19 am

    I say it’s time to show the ignorant people of this country that the man they voted for will not bring economic prosperity back to America. All of us must now suffer the consequence of those misinformed voters. Obama’s false allegations of the republican’s war on women, minorities, the poor and middle class worked well for his re-election. However, his popularity, as well as that of the democrat party, can not be sustained into 2016 as the economy sinks further into chaos. It’s time for the republican party to stand down and just let it happen and stop giving him the opportunity to blame the other party for his leadership failures. We should just give into his demands for higher taxes on the rich. The subsequent failure of his tax the rich economic policy will be his final undoing, as well as his party’s. More importantly, he will be unable to blame the republicans for that when unemployment skyrockets and the economy tanks. Republicans have to start looking ahead to the 2014/2016 elections.

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    • sexysadieComment by sexysadie
      November 14, 2012 @ 12:48 am

      I agree. Like a drunk, America will not wake up until she hits bottom–rock bottom. She has made her choice, now we all have to live in it. Eventually, within the next 4 years, the truth of our future will come to fruition–and it isn’t going to be pretty. Then and only then will America finally wake up to the destructive and devastating policies they have voted in. Yep. I believe it is time for conservatives and republicans to stand down. Sometimes you just have to let the baby burn its little fingers on the stove so it will truly understand the danger of fire.

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  3. katatkmsComment by katatkms
    November 13, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

    I read one of Thomas Sowell’s comment on Sept. 26, 2012 regarding “Obama vs Obama”. It seems that even when someone tries to put the word out of the real Obama, nobody wants to listen or believe. Like you say as long as the Democrats keep giving away the freebies to the people who don’t want to make a better life for themselves then they will keep voting Democrates in. I believe the reason for Obama’s re-election in which the Media pro Obama news does not want to print or report is the US Country mass Voter Fraud this had been, was being reported and still nobody wants to investigate., along with a few unknown news stories of NAACP / Black Panthers, people being bussed in that could not speak english, Houston report of reporting voter intimadations, military ballots delivered day after elections, not being counted, photo copies of ballots, ballot box put in car and driven off, Republicans showing up to observe voting precints and being pushed or not being allowed to enter, etc, etc. Why doesn’t the american people who voted for Republicans STAND UP and DEMAND investigations? Obama stooped in the sewage to bad mouth Romney/Ryan, campaigning about all the things Romney/Ryan would do if elected and if you pay attention, Obama is doing the same thing. SENDING JOBS OVER TO CHINA, RAISING TAXES, etc etc. And lets not forget the Bengazi cover-up, and now the CIA. So now what do we sit and let the Democrates win everytime or do we say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?

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    • sexysadieComment by sexysadie
      November 14, 2012 @ 12:53 am

      “Why doesn’t the american people who voted for Republicans STAND UP and DEMAND investigations?”

      The answer is that even if there were investigations into the myriad corruptions of the BO admin, the investigations would be summarily squashed and/or controlled by BO backers just like the treasonous msm. It would just wind up being another pack of lies and obfuscation.

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  4. mmnlynch9812Comment by mmnlynch9812
    November 15, 2012 @ 11:12 am

    I agree wholeheartedly that the biggest contributor to the downfall of the Republican party and my total frustration with this campaign was and is the inability or worse, conscious decision of candidates to not articulate a coherent plan based on market principles, principles which have been tested and retested by all governments, and to not use both historical and current facts to rebut misinformation and policies proposed by the opposition. These 2 factors obfuscated the real issues and enabled an ignorant electorate to vote for status quo..unbelievable.

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