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Commentary: St. Paul, Minnesota -- the land of make believe

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  • Cafferty says GOP once stood for small government, tight spending, integrity
  • Cafferty: Republicans have lost track of principles and damaged their brand
  • GOP faces demographic challenge as U.S. becomes more diverse, he says
  • Cafferty: Younger voters and growing minorities want change
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By Jack Cafferty
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Editor's Note: Jack Cafferty is the author of the best-seller "It's Getting Ugly Out There: The Frauds, Bunglers, Liars, and Losers Who Are Hurting America." He provides commentary on CNN's "The Situation Room" daily from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. You can also visit Jack's Cafferty File blog.

Jack Cafferty

Jack Cafferty says the Republican party has lost track of what it stands for and is losing its hold on voters.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- This week the Republicans gather for their convention. For four days, they will labor under the illusion their party is still relevant. It's not.

It is entirely fitting that the headliner for this masquerade is a feeble looking 72-year-old white guy who doesn't know how many homes he owns.

It's more than symbolic that when a million Americans are losing their homes to foreclosure, the Republican candidate for president has lost track of his holdings.

McCain surrounds himself with people like former Republican Sen. Phil Gramm who called America a "nation of whiners" and said we are only suffering a "mental recession."

That's the same problem the Republican Party has. It has lost track of what it used to stand for: small government, a disciplined fiscal policy, integrity.

In a way, the perfect storm of a rapidly changing population -- old white people aren't going to be in the majority very much longer (and isn't that who most of the Republicans are?) -- has combined with the total abdication of principles, Republican or otherwise, of arguably the worst president in the nation's history to mark the beginning of the end of the Republican Party as we know it.

Republican Congressman Tom Davis of Virginia said it best: "The Republican brand is in the trash can. If we were dog food, they would take us off the shelf."

It is so bad that more than 10 percent of the Republican members of the United States Senate aren't even bothering to attend their own party's convention. They recognize dog food when they see it.

And it almost doesn't matter who the next president is. We are witnessing the beginnings of a sea change in this country.

A wakeup call has sounded for young people who are suddenly interested enough in politics to make a difference. New voter registrations across the country are making a mockery of the old polling models.

Voter turnout in the primaries was staggering. Blacks and Hispanics feel they have a real stake in things -- and as their numbers continue to grow as a percentage of the population, their voice will only get louder. The march of the next generation is underway and the older generation has no choice but to eventually get out of the way.

Watch for the signs this November. Republicans stand to be turned out of office at every level -- from the U.S. Congress to governors' mansions and state legislatures. Republicans who remain in office will be rendered impotent by their shrinking numbers.

Republicans under George W. Bush have done a lot of damage to this country in the last eight years -- but they have done more damage to themselves. It will take a good long while and a great deal of soul searching before their brand returns to the shelves in good standing.

Don't look for it to happen in St. Paul, Minnesota. This week, Republicans will be happy in the land of make believe.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

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