LatinaLista — The big question since the GOP lost the Latino vote in the 2008 presidential election has been: How serious are Republicans about including Latinos in the GOP?
The answer, fresh from the heart of GOP country -- Waco, Texas -- is not at all!
It seems some Latino Republicans in McLennan County recognized that their local GOP is not doing enough to go after Latinos, blacks and young adult voters. Fed up, they created their own club this past fall and call themselves the Hispanic Republican Club of McLennan County (HRCMC).
Needless to say, this declaration surprised the founders of the Hispanic Republican group.
"I expected to be hit by the Democratic Party, not by Republicans," said Duke Machado, the creator of the group.
Janet Jackson, a conservative activist from Bosque County who is working with Machado on the club, said the party has a bad track record when it comes to bringing minorities and young people into the fold.
Jackson said the club's mission includes recruiting Republicans to fill empty precinct chairs in minority neighborhoods.
The Republican Party lacks precinct chairs in about 40 precincts countywide.
The idea that the main GOP party would disassociate itself from a group that only wants to grow their party is laughable and underscores the fact that the GOP is its own worst enemy when it comes to preventing their party from stagnating into irrelevance.
Yet, this isn't the whole story.
When the longtime GOP county leader M.A. Taylor was pressed about what was so wrong about the Hispanic Republican Club of McLennan County recruiting members to be precinct chairs in minority neighborhoods, what emerged from Taylor's mouth was a clear sign of how little he knows -- or wants to know -- Latinos.
Taylor's response was:
"They think because there are 92 precincts in McLennan County, we need to have 92 precinct chairs," Taylor said. "What they fail to understand is about half of those precincts are minority precincts, and you're not going to find any Republicans in them."
Maybe it's because nobody asked them.
A casual review of the Latino voting record shows that, historically, Latinos have identified with Republican platforms. It's only recently since the GOP leadership surrendered to the wingnuts of their party and have let them dictate the party's message, that is offensive to most Latinos, has the relationship been strained between Latinos and the GOP.
If the Hispanic Republican Club of McLennan County can start to change that perception, what party leader in their right mind wouldn't encourage that?
Unfortunately, the Hispanic Republicans are caught in the middle of another feud entirely.
Taylor acknowledged that the conflict between the local GOP and the Hispanic Republican club has a personal element.
"The driving force behind this organization is Janet Jackson," Taylor said. "She's been a pain in our backside for many years, and she continues to be. We've found we cannot work with her and have refused to try."
That Jackson is helping the Hispanic Republicans outreach to communities that Taylor and his group have ignored or dismissed isn't just a pain in Taylor's backside but a major challenge to his Texas male ego.
And just so he can put Jackson in her place, Taylor is going to discredit the Hispanic Republican group? It appears that to him, Latino voters are expendable for the sake of establishing territorial control.
But this is a new day in Texas GOP politics, and if anything, the HRCMC has signaled that the time for change has come and, finally, on Latino terms.
Machado, of the HRCMC, knows what he wants to do to outreach to potential Latino crossovers, and again, Taylor shows ignorance not just about his Latino neighbors but how people even communicate these days.
Meanwhile, Taylor and Machado disagreed on the importance of a new Web site that Machado has touted as a way to get people involved in Republican politics.
"He wants to start this Web site thing and have Hispanics subscribe to it, and that whole approach puzzles me," Taylor said. "What's this going to do to build the party?"
If ever there was an argument for term limits for local party leadership, this is it.