It’s true that the November elections brought prominent winners in both parties, but the contrast between Democratic and Republican victors is highly revealing.
The biggest Democratic success stories involved re-elected Sens. Barbara Boxer and Harry Reid, and new California governor Jerry Brown – all age 70 or above! The GOP, meanwhile, hailed breakthrough victories for 39-year-old Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida, 43-year old Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin, 38-year old Governor Nikki Haley in South Carolina, 42-year- old Sen. Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, 47-year-old Sen. Rand Paul in Kentucky, and many other youthful candidates bringing fresh, conservative perspectives to high office. Moreover, with Hillary Clinton ruling out a future presidential race, Joe Biden reaching age 74 by 2016, and John Edwards utterly unthinkable, what younger generation Democratic star could plausibly succeed Obama?
The Democrats, in other words, have become a party of shop-worn retreads while the GOP bench is full of next-generation leaders of potential national stature, including Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Rick Perry of Texas, Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Senators John Thune of South Dakota, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, and many more.
Looking toward the future, the rising stars of the GOP not only look more vibrant and dynamic than the Pelosi/Reid Democrats, they also count as increasingly diverse.
After the recent elections, skeptics can no longer deride the GOP as an all-white party of grumpy old men. Marco Rubio, 39, became the new Senator from Florida while fellow Latino Republicans Bryan Sandoval in Nevada and Susana Martinez in New Mexico became the nation’s only two Hispanic Governors. Jaime Herrera, age 31, captured a Democratic Congressional seat in Washington State, while Raul Labrador did the same in Idaho. Two more Hispanic Republicans– Bill Flores and Quico Canseco—knocked out incumbent Democrats in Texas. In South Carolina, Indian-American Nikki Haley won for Governor while black conservative Tim Scott beat Strom Thurmond’s son (among others) for a Congressional seat. Alan West, an African-American Iraq War hero, trounced an incumbent white Florida Democrat.
In the new Republican House of Representatives, eight members of the GOP majority will proudly qualify for a potential “Republican Hispanic Caucus.” Geraldo Rivera may dismiss such victories as “window dressing,” (as he did recently on Fox News) but they have changed both image and substance of the GOP.