Layton: Diversity is not the Delaware GOP’s strength


Greg Layton is a resident of Willow Grove.

The recent news that Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown, has resigned from the Delaware House of Representatives reminded me immediately of an Opinion by Rep. Bryan Shupe, R-Milford, that appeared in these pages (“2024 elections could create political ruling class,” Oct. 27).

In it, Rep. Shupe complained that Delaware’s voters continue to elect Democrats and that Democrats’ supermajorities in the General Assembly could result in the “tyranny of the majority.”

But I believe this self-described “student of history” misunderstands both “tyranny” and the “majority.”

Tyranny, as it has existed in the United States, has come about when a party in power serves the interests of a particular demographic group. And, in American history, that demographic group has been straight, White, Christian men.

There’s nothing inherently evil about that group. I happen to belong to it, but problems arise when the concentration of power in the hands of one demographic group tempts it to disregard or become hostile to the rights and interests of others.

And that seems to be the case with the Delaware Republican Party, whose representatives and senators now include no women, no people of color, no LGBTQIA+ individuals and almost no one who isn’t a (Protestant) Christian.

For context, 51% of Delawareans are women. About 30% of Delawareans either belong to non-Christian religions or hold no religious affiliation. Twenty percent of Delawareans are Black, 10% are Hispanic, and close to 5% are members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Those groups are represented by Democrats in the General Assembly because the Democratic Party comprises not a homogeneous majority but a diverse coalition of women and minority groups. It’s a big tent.

The two parties’ policies reflect their demographic makeup.

Delaware Republicans regularly vote in opposition to women’s rights and LGBTQIA+ protections, and have even opposed the teaching of Black history in schools.

Two of their members — former Sen. Colin Bonini and current Sen. Dave Lawson, R-Marydel — once went so far as to storm out of Legislative Hall when members of a religion other than their own were allowed to pray.

Earlier this year, Sen. Eric Buckson, R-Camden, opined in a Facebook video that southern Delaware should secede from voters with concerns different than his, even though such a move would cost his district alone millions of dollars in taxpayer support.

The only disenfranchised group I can think of that the Delaware GOP has taken a stand for is corporations.

To extort Democrats into giving voting rights to corporations in Seaford, House Republicans walked off their job in June, threatening to kill a bill to provide millions of dollars for city governments and nonprofits that serve human needs, including fire and ambulance services in their own communities.

I don’t need to tell you which demographic group would benefit most from further empowering corporations over people.

Perhaps Rep. Shupe could have written a positive message, espousing his party’s platform, but — if they have one — the document does not appear on the Delaware GOP’s website.

Instead, the party merely offers a vague word salad they call a statement of beliefs, which offers no specific policy positions to guide them. Who wrote it and whether its authors considered the viewpoints of women and minorities remain unclear.

The Delaware Democratic Party, by contrast, provides a thorough platform developed through consultation with Delawareans from throughout the state — of all demographic groups.

You can find it at

It’s no wonder Delaware voters prefer the candidates the Democratic Party offers, while resoundingly rejecting out-of-touch Republican nominees like Christine O’Donnell, Scott Walker, Lauren Witzke and Lee Murphy.

It’s not my job to advise the GOP, but I’ll just say this: Politics and government aren’t T-ball. There is no mercy rule. There are no participation trophies.

If Rep. Shupe wants Republicans to stop losing races in Delaware, he and other party leaders must appeal to and serve a broader array of Delawareans.

But, unless they’re willing to boldly defy the demographically narrow cohort that chooses them in primaries, they will continue to lose outside the reddest of districts — and deserve no pity.

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