NORMAL — Republicans are likely to do well in the mid-term elections and might even gain control of the U.S. Senate, but the party’s longer term future looks dim, according to New York Times journalist and political commentator David Brooks.
In the Twin Cities to deliver the Adlai Stevenson Memorial Lecture on Tuesday night at Illinois Wesleyan University, Brooks gave a brief talk followed by a question-and-answer session at Illinois State University earlier in the day.
Asked if he was drifting to the middle, the conservative columnist said, “I feel the Republican Party is drifting more to the right and I’m staying put.”
Because turnout among older white males, a strong demographic for the Republican Party, tends to be higher than other groups in years without a presidential election, Brooks said Republicans probably will do well — which might lead party leaders to think, “Oh, we don’t have to reform.”
But Brooks said the demographic groups and regions where Republicans are strong are shrinking, while the ones that are growing — such as a Hispanics, single people and young people — are where Republicans do poorly.
“The energy of the party is in the most insular parts of the party,” he said. “They’re driving the debate off to the right.”
If the Republican Party wants to broaden its base, regain the White House and strengthen its hand in Congress, it needs to support immigration reform and back a social mobility agenda with pro-family measures, such as a larger child tax credit, and entitlement reform, Brooks said.
Asked about signs of improvement in government today, Brooks said, “In politics, I really can’t offer much sign of encouragement.”
He said, “It’s as bad as we’ve ever seen the political system” and there is “plenty of blame to go around.”
However, he does think Republicans and Democrats will reach a compromise to avoid a government shutdown.
“I don’t think we’re going to go over the brink,” Brooks said. “Neither one wants to go over the edge.”