American Zombies – Cadillacs and Conservatives

21 May

Cadillac had a problem about 10 years ago when it’s marketing folks finally came to the realization their buyers were dying off…


Cadillac’s market appeal was to folks over 60 who had grown up with large American style cars, a shrinking demographic. Younger folks who had been weaned on smaller, typically foreign cars preferred the smaller size and handling characteristics of foreign luxury makes, versus the bloated floating gunboat handling common to America cars. They were much more likely to gravitate to Acura, Lexus, or Mercedes than to buy a “hog”.

The CTS was designed to attract younger buyers with style, handling, and performance competitive with foreign Luxury brands.

In response to the realization that their market was literally dying out – the company went on a crash campaign to attract younger buyers by introducing models like the CTX whose handling and performance characteristics were more in line with their foreign competitors.  Now – the company didn’t really have a change of heart as the Brobdingnagian gas guzzler SUV line proved – and their clinging to the 60’s era American maxim that more cubic inches and horsepower makes up for all design shortcomings…

But – they at least (grudgingly) are making an effort.

Which puts them far ahead of Republicans, who are facing the same market issue. Their market is white, male in their 60’s and 70’s and dying off. Not soon enough for many of us – but thank God for small favors. Their counter approach seems to be to turn their believers into Zombies – a technology which worked with some success in creating the Tea Party. Unfortunately the technical difficulty of retainng live, functioning brain cells is still beyond their reach – resulting in even bigger problems.

Case in point –

GOP problem: ‘Their voters are white, aging and dying off’

When presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney appears before Latino small-business owners in Washington on Wednesday, he’ll address a group whose explosive birth rates foreshadow a seismic political shift in GOP strongholds in the Deep South and Southwest.

“The Republicans’ problem is their voters are white, aging and dying off,” said David Bositis, a senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, who studies minority political engagement.

“There will come a time when they suffer catastrophic losses with the realization of the population changes.”

Over the next several generations, the wave of minority voters — who, according to U.S. Census figures released this week, now represent more than half of the nation’s population born in the past year — will become more of a power base in places like Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. That hold will extend across the Southwest all the way to California, experts say.

The coming political revolution could result in a massive changing of the guard on nearly every level of government, potential cultural clashes, and the type of political alliances that are now considered rare.

Offspring of immigrant farm workers

In Georgia, those rumblings are already being felt.

It is a state that depends heavily on immigrant labor to pick peaches and peanuts and work in poultry plants. So when Georgia — like its Southern sister states of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and South Carolina — passed a tough anti-immigration bill that also penalizes businesses, Hispanic groups and farmers alike pushed back.

“This election cycle Latinos in Georgia are upset about (the law),” said Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of GALEO, a nonprofit and nonpartisan group geared toward Georgia’s growing Latino population. “That’s going to spur more galvanization than we’ve ever seen before.”

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Southeastern states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee boast some of the greatest percentage increases in Latino population growth. They are also states where the percentage of Hispanics roughly doubled.

And, according to Pew, the Latino population boom helped Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington net additional congressional seats.

Though Georgia’s Latino population has mushroomed over the past ten years, according to Pew, roughly 23% of that group is eligible to vote, compared to roughly 76.2% of whites and just over 69% of African-Americans….

So far, Republican efforts to offer Latinos a place at the table have fallen short.

The nation’s Hispanics tend to vote Democratic, and overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama and Joe Biden in 2008.

Romney in particular has stumbled with this critical voting bloc, after his comments suggesting that making the economic landscape tough for illegal immigrants will force them to “self deport.”

Trying to convince a growing population

Even Republican Hispanic lawmakers, such as Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, have urged the GOP to soften its language when discussing immigration and such proposals as the House-passed version of the Violence Against Women Act, which killed expanded coverage for illegal immigrants and Native Americans who are victims of domestic abuse, and the failed DREAM Act, which would have given U.S. residency to immigrant kids with high school diplomas.

The GOP is trying to clean up its image with Hispanic voters, with an eye toward the demographic’s looming political clout.

Romney is slated to speak at the Latino Coalition’s Annual Economic Summit in Washington on Wednesday. Last week, his campaign released “Dia Uno,” a Spanish-language version of an ad underscoring Romney’s mission for the first day he assumes the presidency.

If Republicans continue to struggle to appeal to Latino voters, Spanish-language ads may not stave off a change that experts like Bositis see coming in the not too distant future, when states such as Georgia go purple and eventually blue.

“There’ll be a tipping point where you’ve got the Republicans in charge, but you’ll get to the point when the population becomes minority,” Bositis said. “When that happens the statewide offices will fall. Republican governors will fall. Things will change.”


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