Home / General / How the GOP Keeps Getting Less Diverse

How the GOP Keeps Getting Less Diverse


Rany Jazayerli:

In the 2000 election, approximately 70% of Muslims in America voted for Bush; among non-African-American Muslims, the ratio was over 80%.

Four years later, Bush’s share of the vote among Muslims was 4%.

What happened? Well, a lot.


Individually, each of these incidents was upsetting but tolerable. But they were part of a pattern; while officially the Bush Administration was careful to say that the American Muslim community was not under suspicion, their actions spoke otherwise. Most egregious was the way the government handled the case of the Holy Land Foundation.

The Holy Land Foundation was a charity founded in the late 1980s, ostensibly to provide humanitarian relief to the people of the Palestinian territories. In December, 2001, the federal government formally accused the Foundation of siphoning some of their funds to support Hamas, which had been designated a terrorist group by the United States in 1993. While some thought this was a witch hunt against a pro-Palestinian organization, most Muslims – myself included – were mortified that a respected charity had deceived the American Muslim community as to where their donations were going. The case finally proceeded to trial in 2007, and every count against the Foundation ended in either acquittal or a mistrial, in what the New York Times called “a stunning setback for the government.” Undaunted, the Feds pursued a retrial the following year and obtained convictions on many counts.

But it’s not the way the Bush administration handled the Holy Land Foundation that rankled the Muslim community. It’s the way they smeared virtually every Muslim organization in America in the process. As part of the indictment against the Holy Land Foundation, the government submitted a list of “unindicted co-conspirators”. This was a list of individuals and organizations who the government had not a shred of evidence implicating them in supporting terrorism, but decided to smear them with the accusation anyway.

It’s hard to overstate just how distraught and disappointed this made the Muslim community. The list of “unindicted co-conspirators” ran over 300 members long, and included the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the largest umbrella organization of Muslims in America; the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the premier civil-rights organization working for Muslims; and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), which as holder of the deed of hundreds of mosques, is the largest Muslim endowment in America. Basically, if you were a Muslim organization and weren’t on the list, you probably weren’t that important.

Read the whole etc.

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  • Todd

    And not that there haven’t been some on the Left who’ve made some unfortunate comments; but, try and imagine if the Dems had nominated a Mormon for the Presidency.

  • Dallan

    I think Scott, of all the LG&M writers, would appreciate the compare-and-contrast to the Conservative Party of Canada’s lamentable success with similarly-minded immigrant constituencies by successfully downplaying (even flat-out muzzling) its own nativist elements which were holding it back from that rich field of votes in the past.

    • howard

      dallan, the question i’ve been asking myself during this campaign is, when the time comes to replace older white men in the voting constituency, in which direction will the gop pivot?

      my own belief is they’ll go to the rove/bush try to win 1/3 of the hispanic-americdan vote route, with some kind of religious/family values outreach amalgam.

      • Chester Allman

        I saw (can’t remember where, unfortunately) a conservative commentator suggesting that the GOP might first try to address its gender gap simply by recruiting/nominating more women for office. Which is sort of touchingly naive, though at the same time, I’m all for the Rs helping to further normalize female candidacies.

      • NonyNony

        when the time comes to replace older white men in the voting constituency, in which direction will the gop pivot

        Pivot? Hm. I’m not sure that they can pivot. A pivot implies a change of course that they make themselves, and I’m not sure that they can do that. Their coalition is too narrow and exclusionary right now – it’s a tenet of modern Republicanism that intolerance is good and if you are too different then get out. How do you pivot away from that to attract more members to your group?

        They’ll probably crash first. Then pick themselves up and rebuild from what’s left of the rubble. The only real question is how much damage will they do as they crash. I suspect a lot – a lot of damage.

  • bill

    2000 is a dubious point of comparison, because the Republicans did better among Muslims that year than pretty much any other, but the effect described is certainly real.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      Why did they do so well in 2000? My guess would be Lieberman’s appearance on the Democratic ticket…but there are many (perhaps unfair) assumptions behind that guess.

      • Hob

        See; more. Basically, Bush was an unknown entity who had made some mildly positive noises, and most people weren’t aware of how influential the neocons were with him. Lieberman probably didn’t help, but there were already other reasons to be pissed at Clinton and, by association, at Gore.

        • Alan Tomlinson

          I have no idea how American Muslims felt about Lieberman, but here in Europe he was despised and feared. I had the sense that the GOP could have run Elmer Fudd against Gore/Lieberman and they would have won the Muslim vote. Lieberman’s (perceived) links to Israel were seen as toxic by Muslims here, from what I saw.


          Alan Tomlinson

      • rea

        Also–abortion, feminism, gays. Your devout Muslim isn’t fond of any of those things. And those of them who are doing well in this country may want lower taxes, too. It’s much the same with Hispanics. Many of them would be Republicans, if Republicans weren’t focused on appeasing their nativist base by attacking them.

      • My guess: the “compassionate conservative” message Bush used in that election resonated with Muslims.

  • Before 2000 a very large number of Arab-Americans both Christians and Muslims voted Republican regularly. In part is was because many of them were small businessmen who were for lower taxes and less regulation. The same thing applies to Iranian-Americans and Pakistani-Americans. In part this was because the Democrats in the Congress, not the Republicans have historically been the most hard core enablers of Israeli aggression and repression. So Bush getting most Muslim voters in 2000 is not surprising at all. What is surprising is Bush’s adaptation of an extreme anti-Palestinian stand previously associated primarily with Congressional Democrats.

    • Chester Allman

      Indeed. It was Bush pere who pushed the Israelis to the table at Madrid in 1991.

      The apple ended up on a different planet from the tree.

      • NonyNony

        I knew that Bush the Lesser was going to be a terrible President in 1999 – but I thought “how bad could it be in the end? His old man wasn’t the greatest President ever but it’s not like he was Richard Nixon or something”.

        Sigh. Famous last words.

    • Murc

      Also worth mentioning that a large chunk of the Muslim-American community (especially Iranian-Americans) are people who left their home countries less than voluntarily and were in favor of some sharp, hawkish diplomacy. I went to high school with a fellow whose parents were forced to leave their cushy lifestyles in Tehran and who would vote for anyone they thought would start a war there. (And presumably still do that.)

  • Keaaukane

    The Muslims were being a wee bit too sensitive. Whatever Bush was doing to American Muslims, he would never have hurt his paymasters in Saudi Arabia.

    • Holden Pattern

      Oddly, most American Muslims aren’t Saudi. Or more to the point, Saudi royals.

      • Keaaukane

        That’s true. I’m just saying Bush didn’t hate all Muslims, not even the ones who attacked us. He just didn’t like poor ones, and that was not being singled out or picked on. Bush didn’t like the poor regardless of race, creed or color.

  • Major Kong

    I disagree. The GOP is very diverse.

    With apologies to Hedley Lamarr/Harvey Korman:

    They want:

    Unabashed Racists
    Abashed Racists
    Firearm fetishists
    Fundamentalist Evangelicals
    Evangelic Fundamentalists
    Oil Barons
    Coal Barons

    • They’re not all old, white, southern, Evangelical, rural males.

      They also have, for instance, old, white, western Evangelical, rural males.

      And middle-aged, white, southern, Evangelical, rural males.

      And old, white, southern, Catholic, rural males.

      And old, white, southern, Evangelical rural females.

      And old, white, southern, Evangelical, urban males.

      It’s a real rainbow coalition.

  • DrDick

    AS part of their larger war on science, the GOP is now waging a war against demography. I strongly urge them to continue their efforts to alienate everybody except stupid, hateful, rich, old, white men.

    • Malaclypse

      No, they are cool with stupid, hateful, nonrich, old white men as well. That’s the closest they have to a growth demographic.

      • Pestilence

        reading fail, Mal

  • Jim Lynch

    That 70 per cent of the Muslim community that voted for Bush/Cheney/GOP in 2000 were long overdue for a wising-up. While their subsequent disenchantment is understandable, they should feel equally as embarrassed they were so so damned naive to begin with.

    • I wonder about that.

      Looking back at Dole/Kemp, Bush/Quayle, Reagan/Bush, and Ford/Dole, as well as the “modest foreign policy, compassionate conservatism” message of the 2000 campaign, was there really any reason why American Muslims should have seen Dubya/Dick as a threat during the election?

  • Karen

    The most ironic thing about this is that the R’s, by scaring off Muslims, will am,e Muslims more liberal on social issues by default and reduce the influence of conservative Muslim clergy. The Ds are not perfect, but clearly gays and feminists have significant influence in the party, and the Muslims will have to accommodate themselves to that fact. Thus, they will move to the left on social issues, I the same way as most Catholics outside their hierarchy. That means that American Muslims will become a counterweight to the Saudis, providing money and influence for a better Islam. Truly God works in mysterious ways.

  • Gene

    I remember that during one of the 2000 debates, Bush was asked about racial profiling. He responded by talking about a very specific kind of racial profiling, the use of. “Secret evidence” in prosecutions against Muslim Americans. I thought it kind of came out of nowhere, but it was apparently a deliberate nod to the Muslim community that his party was then trying to court. Of course, 9/11 changed everything, etc. The sense of betrayal in the Muslim American community must’ve been profound.

  • Murc

    I think it’s worth mentioning that one should never underestimate the ability of a constituency to turn conservative and reactionary as they age.

    My grandfather, who died a few months ago, was born in 1924 as the son of sicilian immigrants. (Sicilians, for those who don’t know, were despised even by other Italians; it was as low-status as you could get.) He was called ‘wop’ as a youth more than once.

    After the war, he worked in a good union job all his life, one that he got because the local Democratic party was all about getting immigrants into their political machine. He was able to send both his children to college. By the time he was forty, he no longer had to worry about having slurs hurled at him; the times had changed, and they changed because of liberals.

    And starting with Reagan, he voted a straight Republican ticket from 1980 until the day he died. He was particularly prone to grumbling about how immigrants “these days” weren’t assimilating and “working hard and learning english” the way “his parents did.”

    I feel bad for speaking ill of him, because he always did right by me and I loved the old man… but once he was comfortable economically, he started voting straight culture issues, and assumed that his prosperity was the natural order of things rather than recognizing that he was greatly blessed.

    This, from a man who was literally beat up more than once because of the olive cast of his skin.

  • The Dark Avenger

    According to Manju, that was the only time in the history of America where a working-class Democrat was won over by the social conservatism offered by the Republicans.

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