This morning on Meet the Press, David Gregory ran a video clip of GOP strategist Mike Murphy’s appearance on the show from March 1. Murphy was the campaign manager for Sen. John McCain’s 2000 effort. On the future of the GOP, Murphy said:
The country is changing. Ronald Reagan won in 1980 with 51% of the vote. We all worship Ronald Reagan. But if that election had been held with the current demographics in America today, Ronald Reagan would have gotten 47 percent of the vote. The math is changing. Anglo vote is 74 percent now not 89. And if we don’t modernize conservatism, we are going to have a party of 25 percent of the vote going to Limbaugh rallies, joining every applause line, ripping the furniture up, we’re going to be in permanent minority status.
Roll tape forward to this morning when David Gregory showed Murphy’s remarks to Sen. John McCain and asked him, “How does conservatism modernize itself, how does the party get back to power?” McCain said:
The party of ideas, the part of inclusivesness, uh – outreach to other ethic aspects of the American electorate, in my part of the country, especially Hispanic voters. We have to recruit and elect Hispanics to office. We have to welcome new ideas. And there are — you know — a lot of people complain about divisions within the Republican Party. That’s good right now. Let’s let a 1,000 flowers bloom. Let’s have different clashes of ideas, sharing the same principles and goals. Look, if we were having this show in 1982, the Republican Party was dead. In 1994, the Democrat (sic) Party was dead. Right now — err, look, but — there’s a great resilience in American politics and I have –I’m very optimistic about the future of the Republican Party, if we do the right things.
In my view, this exchange shows just how out of touch John McCain is and explains why he lost last year. Murphy, love him or hate him, is exactly right — the demographics of the country are changing. The U.S. electorate is becoming less white while the voting populations for Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans are increasing. Yet, in the 2008 election, the Republican share of the Hispanic vote dropped to 33% from an all-time high of 40% in 2004.
For his part, in this run on sentence of an answer to Gregory’s question, McCain seems to accept Murphy’s diagonosis of the problem. Fine. But with his actions in the Senate, particularly since his defeat, McCain make me question his willingness to embrace the “new ideas” he proposes as the solution the GOP’s demise. Witness McCain’s floor speeches and remarks about the President’s stimulus plan and budget. Since November, it’s just more of the same: saying no. Where is Sen. McCain’s spending alternative? Where are his new ideas?