Why is the Republican Party so white


The Republican Party in the USA
Career, strategies and deficits

If you look at the literature on the political system of the United States, the more general introductory works and the focus on individual presidents and their administrations predominate. It is all the more commendable that the Bonn political scientist Philipp Adorf singles out one of the two major US parties with “The Republican Party in the USA” and subjects it to an in-depth analysis. In doing so, he succeeds - so much is anticipated - in always keeping the connection between this topic and more general questions of the political system in an exemplary manner. Adorf himself emphasizes: "The history of the Republican Party [...] also provides insights into the general challenges with which American democracy is confronted in the 21st century" (11). Underhandedly, this party study developed into a representation of the central political developments in the United States in the post-war period. And a look at the recent behavior of Republicans in the US Congress, particularly illuminating with the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump in the winter of 2019/20, shows the far-reaching and long-term changes in this party over the course of the past decades up to the present day Status.

Initially, Adorf referred to the 2016 presidential election and stated that "the Trump candidacy and its ultimate success [...] puzzled analysts, scientists and the leadership of the Republican Party" (7). However, Adorf vividly describes not only current events and processes within the political system of the United States, but also identifies Trump and his politics as a consequence of the development of the Republican Party since the 1960s, because: “[O] without the decades of preparatory work by other Republican politicians und strategists ”would not have been possible“ Trump's candidacy and his internal party success on the basis of his nativist populism ”. The author therefore focuses on those aspects "which made Trump's successful candidacy possible, which explain his popularity within his own ranks and which will also explain the future of the Republican Party" (8).

In chapter two, Adorf goes into detail about the “conquest of the south” (13) by the Republican Party. He spans the arc of Barry Goldwater's defeat in the 1964 presidential election (the beginning of the “Southern Strategy"[28, italics in the original]) on Richard Nixon's" Adjustment of the Southern Strategy (41) through to Ronald Reagan's “Perfecting the Southern Strategy“(57) and its role since the Reagan presidency (1981-1989). In the third chapter, among other things, the question of whether one can speak of a “coronation of the Southern Strategy“Could speak (cf. 128). Adorf's assessment is in agreement when he writes: “Morally certainly more than questionable, thanks to the focus on white voters with racist resentment, the triumphant advance in the south led to a political dominance that helped the Republican Party to the status of the leading actor on various political levels. "(221)

In the third chapter already mentioned, Adorf then describes the composition of the Republican Party at the beginning of the 21st century. In doing so, he addresses the party's political elite as well as the role and importance of the Christian conservative voters and the "Tea Party" movement, which has been active since 2008 (cf. 93 ff.).

Again and again the author picks up problem-oriented important aspects, each of which he subjects to a more detailed analysis. According to Adorf, one's own identity (“identity”), for example, has become one of the central political and social lines of conflict: “Within a considerable part of the republican core electorate, politics is increasingly perceived as a struggle between the various ethnic groups, in which the increase in political The influence of minorities (not least symbolized by Barack Obama's victory) inevitably comes at the expense of one's own political relevance. It is a narrative that has been nurtured by the Republican side for decades - Donald Trump's triumph is in a way only the latest example of this tried and tested strategy. ”(9) At the same time, Adorf also explains the possible limits of this policy:“ In relation to an electorate , which has become (and will become) more and more secular, educated and less white, the Republican Party is presenting itself shortly before the 2020 presidential election as a party of white, (Christian) conservative voters without a university degree ”(9). In summary, this means: “The Republican Party is running out of voters. Because almost every demographic trend in the country speaks for its democratic opponent ”(11; more detailed 149 ff.).

At first glance, the position of the Republican Party in 2019 does not seem too bad: it controls the office of president, holds a majority in the US Senate and an overwhelming majority in the chambers of parliament at the state level, “in which often continues the most important everyday political decisions in the country are made ”(cf. 221 f.). Even if “the party only once in seven attempts since 1992 Popular vote was able to win the presidential election, it still has a constituency of the electorate that it thanks to the mode of Electoral College allows to be competitive even in this electoral environment ”(222, emphasis in the original).

At second (and third) glance, however, "the demographic change in the country [...] will leave the party no other option than to address segments of the electorate that it has disregarded up to now." demographic change in the United States as well as the changes in the ethnic composition of the country as well as "[r] Republican deficits in [...] growing segments of the US population" and Republican measures to maintain power like that redistricting (and the associated imbalance of representation in the US House of Representatives) as well as activities to restrict the right to vote are discussed (cf. 180 ff.).

In doing so, it is important to keep the following aspect in mind, as Adorf later summarizes: The voters who have brought Trump into the White House form "by no means the radical fringes of the Republican Party, but rather its ideological heart" (222) . The Republican Party must be understood as "a construct of impressive ideological (as well as demographic) homogeneity" (223).

As much as Adorf is from a political science perspective on the "party in the electorate", that is: the electoral demand side stands out and thus also writes a piece of political and social history of the United States, so much one would have wished that the "party organization" , so the structural structure of the party with its various governing bodies and leaders would have been more taken into account. The important area of ​​the “Party in Congress” or “Party in Government” should have received (even) more attention. How much the image of this party, especially in the perception of the American public, is also determined by the actions of its MPs, is unfortunately not further elaborated in this way.

But if you want to know more about why the Republican Party and its actors act as they do today, this book is the best choice, because en passant the party history and characterization of the Republican Party expands to a representation of the general political Development of the United States over the past few decades. The work impresses with a wealth of numbers, facts and data. Adorf's assessments and judgments are to be followed in almost all cases. A detailed list of sources at the end of the book invites you to read on. The inclined reader is now waiting for a similar volume to be written for the United States Democratic Party. This volume should also be as informative and exciting as the book presented here.