Republican Comeback Strategy: Hug a Latino
¿Qué hay de nuevo, GOP?
Evidently “elections have consequences” because a brief two months ago the Republican Party nailed up one of the most hardline immigration planks in GOP history to its 2012 Platform. That policy, drafted by America’s #1 Nativist, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, called for such controversial policies as the completion of a border fence, the end of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and an end to sanctuary cities. You might remember Kris Kobach as the person who prepared the original legislation that became the inspiration for Arizona’s SB1070, as well as hardline immigration laws in Alabama, Georgia, and other states.
The platform also pledged support for national E-Verify, an Internet database to be run by the federal government that makes it harder for undocumented workers to get jobs. (Big Gubmint isn’t all bad, I guess)
Simultaneously, the Romney campaign was soft-pedaling anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric and, indeed, aired some Spanish-language campaign ads in Florida, included some campaign stops with high-profile Hispanics, flirted with the idea of Marco Rubio for their Veep, spray-tanned their candidate, and even trotted out a Spanish-speaking Romney son to appeal to swing state Latinos.
Nevertheless, the base must have its way and the Republican Platform Committee was easily swayed by Kobach’s pitch:
We recognize that if you really want to create a job tomorrow, you can remove an illegal alien today. That is the way to open up jobs very quickly for U.S. citizen workers and lawfully admitted alien workers.
and they voted overwhelmingly in favor of Kobach’s immigration plank, effectively wiping out the inroads that had been forged by George W. Bush into the Latino electorate which enabled him to score an enviable 40% of the Latino vote.
The GOP, faced with an embarrassing defeat, is now showing every sign of being as short-sighted and ham-handed as ever in addressing its systemic problems. It’s not surprising that Republicans are floundering after this defeat which puts to rest the notion that the 2010 mid-term elections presaged some sort of Republican renaissance, rather than a peculiar political blip—an all-in last gasp of “angry, white” American misanthropes orchestrated by Old Guard die-hards like Dick Armey and Karl Rove.
The same old Republican fatal flaws are glaringly evident. The party is looking for a quick fix that will allow them to win elections without going through the pain of a serious ideological self-examination, or the shocking revelations of listening to people and taking them seriously.
If it wasn’t so very pathetic, it would almost be funny that Republicans, like Charles Krauthammer, seem to have, very quickly, come to the conclusion that Latinos are “Republican by nature” and that all the GOP has to do is package their pitch carefully to strike Hispanics’ internal chords of Republicanism. Put that in your pipe, Bill O’Reilly . . .
All of a sudden, hispanic immigrants have gone from being opportunistic job suckers, uneducated, unskilled parasites, criminal predators, and drug and gun runners to the “salt of the Earth,” a perfect fit with the GOP’s God and family traditional values. Or, as Peter Beinart of The Daily Beast put it, the GOP is beginning to see “Hispanics as Tea Partiers with visa problems.”
It will be a shock to these geniuses to learn that Cubans, Caribbean Hispanics, South and Central Americans, Spaniards and Mexicans are not all alike—until that dawns on them, they will waste a few election cycles herding cats, when they could have just paid attention to the world they live in:
According to the Pew Research Center, half of Hispanics now favor gay marriage compared with one third who oppose it. Hispanic Catholics are about as pro-gay marriage as white, non-Hispanic Catholics, and Hispanic evangelicals are less opposed than their white, non-Hispanic counterparts. And while some past polling has shown Hispanics to be more anti-abortion than other Americans, the distinction is diminishing as second- and third-generation Hispanics prove far more pro-choice than their immigrant parents and grandparents. In fact, according to ABC News, 2012 exit polls actually showed Hispanics to be more supportive of keeping abortion legal than other Americans.
If Hispanics aren’t all that culturally conservative, they’re not obsessed with immigration either. According to Pew, 60 percent of Hispanics rated the economy as their top issue (almost exactly the same as the public at large). After that came health care, the deficit, and foreign policy. A USA Today/Gallup poll this summer found that Hispanic registered voters prioritized health care, unemployment, economic growth, and the gap between rich and poor over immigration.
Here’s another fact about your “natural Republicans,” Mr. Krauthammer:
According to Pew, while only 41 percent of Americans as a whole say they want a bigger government that provides more services, a whopping 75 percent of Hispanics do.
I predict that the GOP’s strategy to woo Latinos will be to consult their Big Golden Book of Ethnic Stereotypes and launch some entertaining attempts at becoming “latinized.” They may drop some of their more aggressive English-Only programs. They may decide to let smart kids and soldiers stay without too much hassle. They might offer a retirement plan to America’s Toughest Sheriff.” They’ll probably find a few more photogenic Cuban-American Republicans to poster-ize in the mistaken belief that immigrants vote ethnicity over policy.
Maybe the GOP is still in a state of denial but how does it really help to delude themselves into thinking that Latinos are natural Republicans as long as women, gays, blacks, secular whites, Asians and the young are not? Doesn’t that suggest that perhaps “natural Republicanism” is fatally flawed and might not be worth pushing to anyone? Or is that too hard to sort out? The problem with courting the 1% is that they are only 1% and one of the lessons of 2012 is that money still doesn’t buy American elections.
Meanwhile that “angry old white men” base is simmering, stewing and threatening to blow sky high if you threaten to give any more of “their America” away.
Tough spot, GOP but, you know what?—You built it!