Tag: midterm elections

Kiss and Make Up

I’ve written before about the Republican Party’s image problem with Hispanics. For the most part, conservatives are content to appear as unappetizing as possible to Latino voters. It’s almost as if the GOP is saying, “We’re not really a bunch of redneck nativists who despise your culture, but you’ll just have to take our word on that. Now, who’s up for some stereotyping and deportations?

Perhaps many Republicans are afraid of offending their hardcore base, which is, let’s face it, not the most open-minded group. Or maybe conservatives were heartened by their “shellacking” of the Democrats in the midterms. Or possibly they’re feeling no pressure because U.S. Census figures indicate that red states are growing much faster than blue ones.

But wait — upon closer inspection, maybe that last one isn’t so uplifting to conservatives after all. As Fox News Latino points out, “the irony is that many of these growth centers … are the beneficiaries of population growth due in large part of immigration and brisk Latino birthrates.” In other words, one reason that the red states are bursting is because Hispanics are moving in. As such, these states have “a strong Republican Party presence, and an increasingly unsympathetic Latino electorate to counter that party’s influence.”

So if anything, conservatives should be bending over backwards to attract Latino support. At least a few Republicans know this.

Among them is our old friend Newt Gingrich (!), who recently admitted the truth about immigration reform when he said, “We are not going to deport 11 million people. There has to be some zone between deportation and amnesty.”

Gingrich’s surprising statement got the Washington Post’s attention. The newspaper opined that “making nice with Hispanics has become an incipient Republican cottage industry” and expressed “hope it grows enough to shut down the hateful rhetoric and demonizing of Latinos by too many Republicans in recent years.”

Well, let’s not get carried away. As the Post makes clear, nativists “have cowed the Republican Party with a message of rejection and hate that most Latinos take personally.”

And here is where the GOP fails to understand a basic truth: Slamming immigrants doesn’t just offend undocumented people. It also pisses off Latino citizens, many of whom are naturalized immigrants, have family members who recently arrived here, or just don’t like to see people who look like them get blamed for everything.

Indeed, as the National Council of La Raza states, the recent elections brought to power “some of the most extreme members of the House who are going to be the calling card of the Republican Party to Latinos.” This doesn’t really help conservatives, who “need to rebuild their relationships with Latinos.”

Still, it’s not all bad news for the GOP when it comes to Hispanics. There is one group of Latinos who are positively giddy about a significant part of the Republican platform. Unfortunately, these Hispanics are not citizens, or even residents.

It seems that the GOP insistence on making guns readily available is a big hit with Mexican drug cartels. Yes, although the right to carry a firearm is supposed to deter crime, the truth is that “Mexico’s most violent drug cartels are exploiting U.S. guns laws to acquire massive quantities of assault rifles and other firearms for use in their war.”

Ouch — somehow I doubt this fact will help win over Latinos in 2012.


Again

Wow, you would think that I know better at this point. After three years of writing this blog, I still make the mistake of saying, “I’m not going to write about this topic anymore” and then promptly turning around and writing about it (whatever the specific “it” might be at that moment).

In this case, I intended to let my recent post on the midterm elections be my final word on the subject. After that, I was going to let the bitter results speak for themselves. Yes, I planned to ignore the horrific stench rising from Washington DC as Tea Party activists climbed up on the furniture and howled their nativist agenda.

But that was before I was surprised, and a bit amused, to discover that a GOP Latino group called Somos Republicans has written an open letter to Republican leaders.

The group expresses concern that some of the incoming GOP leadership has “repeatedly engaged in rhetoric that is aimed negatively toward Hispanics” and has “used defamatory language that is extremely offensive to Hispanics.” Somos Republicans says that certain GOP leaders — guys who will soon be calling the shots in Congress — have “engaged in an ill-advised platform… that has been perceived as insensitive” and “inflammatory.”

I have to wonder why Somos Republicans is only noticing this trend now. After all, the fear-mongering was pretty well publicized, advertised, and encouraged during the election season. How could they have missed it?

In addition, Somos Republicans seems less upset about the dehumanizing of their fellow Latinos, and more worried that the image problem will hurt GOP chances in 2012.

By the way, they are correct to be concerned.

Now, some will argue that Somos Republicans are nothing more than sell-outs. As I’ve written before, I don’t advocate for litmus tests about what constitutes a “real Latino.” Sure, denying your heritage might qualify one for fake-Hispanic status. But short of that, I believe that a person does not have to adhere to a strict political agenda to be considered part of la familia.

Still, it’s difficult to reconcile the self-loathing that many Hispanics have for their immigrant origins. So it’s good to see that at least some conservative Latinos are disturbed by the flagrant xenophobia being peddled as a patriotic value.

But really, somebody has to tell Somos Republicans to change the name of their organization. Don’t they know that English is under constant attack from people who deny that it is our official language? I mean, you would think Republicans would know that.


Postmortem

Once again, thanks to Ankhesen Mie for her always insightful comments. Building off that last post, and reneging on my claim that I would not go further into the results of last week’s midterm elections, I have to add one small snowball to the avalanche of analysis that is still cascading down the internet.

As I wrote previously, the GOP gambled that by firing up their base, they would be the big winners on November 2. One of the ways they did this was by appealing to the fears of older white voters. As Speaker Boehner can tell you, this strategy worked.

However, my pals at the Huffington Post have pointed out something that I also noticed. The GOP approach may have backfired more than celebrating Republicans would care to admit.

This is because, despite their success at reclaiming the House, “their hopes of controlling the Senate as well were stymied by a firewall of Latino voters who were outraged by Republican demonization of Latino immigrants.”

Yes, although Republicans coasted to victory nationwide, some of the most virulent conservatives in Senate races failed to capitalize. For example, in Nevada, Sharron Angle — a woman who never saw a race-baiting ad she didn’t like — lost to the embattled Harry Reid. His margin of victory can be attributed to the fact that he earned “a whopping 90 percent” of the Hispanic vote, which “was up from 12 percent of the electorate in the 2006 midterms to 15 percent in 2010.”

Similarly, in Colorado, Illinois, and my current home state of California, Latinos were the difference in high-profile Senate and governor races. It appears, therefore, that more than a few Hispanics were mobilized to vote against politicians they saw as actively hostile to them.

Again, I’m not saying that all Republicans are racists. But it’s clear that Hispanics heard the rhetoric that conservatives employed in this election and didn’t see it “as a difference about a policy or issue. It directly offended the Latino community’s sense of identity, pride and self-worth.”

Now, it’s true that many Latino Republicans won elections last week, a sign that at least some Hispanics are OK with the GOP label. However, it’s also true that in eight key states, “Latinos overall voted for Democrats over Republicans by approximately 75 percent to 25 percent — a 3 to 1 margin.”

In sum, the short-term benefits for Republicans may not have been worth it. This is because Hispanics (and you know this fact already) are the nation’s fastest-growing demographic, and “as the Latino population continues to grow, it will rapidly become impossible to put together an electoral majority … with that kind of Hispanic opposition.”

Of course, Republicans aren’t so dumb or oblivious that they haven’t noticed this development. Their hope, of course, is that by the time the next election comes around, Hispanics will have forgotten that much of the GOP message this time was based on lambasting Latinos. Party leaders are assuming that Hispanics will lapse into amnesia when casting their votes.

This is not crazy. After all, it’s apparently what happened to everyone else in the country last Tuesday.


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