LatinaLista — Performing my daily ritual of surfing news headlines, I had to stop and give a mental high-five to the person who authored a response entitled All Latinos vote Democrat? Please.
While most people should already know that some of the strongest and most loyal members of the Republican party are Latino, it’s (obviously) a fact that is all too often forgotten by not just the-rank-and-file GOP members but the party leadership itself.
Maybe that’s why the GOP seems to have written off Latinos — not just at the polls come November but in creating the potential for any dialogue with Latino constituents in the meantime.
(Photo source: Marco Grob for TIME)
For example, during this immigration debate, Republican politicians have continuously failed to reach out to the Latino constituency. It’s as if they are afraid to face Latino voters or those who advocate for reforming current immigration policy.
As the author wrote, “As long as Republicans think (immigration) reform is a cheap political plot for new voters and label entire ethnic groups as future Democrats, they will be seen as the anti-immigrant party.”
Hmmm, good possibility and if the Sunday televised appearance of two of the leading GOP party leaders, Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Pete Sessions (both from Texas btw – ouch) is any indication, GOP leadership is probably resorting to that line of defense because they don’t really have a good reason for not wanting to work with Democrats to reform immigration. In the process, they’re too afraid to be called out on it by Latinos a la Meet the Press style.
Even a conservative columnist wrote that the current GOP attitude towards Latinos isn’t helping their political cause any for the longterm.
In 1994 California had around 1.3 million illegal immigrants and spent about $3 billion per year on services for their benefit. Prop 187 was designed as a solution to the problem by barring illegal immigrants from receiving state services. Republican Gov. Pete Wilson made the bill one of his primary campaign issues and ultimately used its popularity to overcome a 20 percent deficit at the polls. But it was a success only in the short term. As NBC’s First Read explains:
Democrats won California just ONCE in presidential contests from 1952 to 1988. But after Wilson’s Prop. 187, Republicans haven’t come CLOSE to winning the nation’s biggest state. It’s not even remotely close to being a swing state.
The consensus among rational Republicans is that it’s a scenario doomed to repeat itself unless the GOP leadership quits taking the holier-than-thou stance. Surprisingly, there has been no outreach to the Latino community by even Hispanic GOP leaders to the greater Latino community.
Only one Republican has made a very vocal and public display of reaching out to Latinos — Newt Gingrich!
Not sure if he had an epiphany after converting to Catholicism in 2009 — still the religion of choice for the majority of Latinos in the United States — but since that time Newt has made it a point to address the Latino presence within his party and venturing beyond the elephant ring.
First, at a time when most of his colleagues were touting English-Only laws, he included a Spanish section on his personal homepage.
Next, he created the bilingual political opinion site The Americano where in both Spanish and English conservative ideals are discussed and promoted, but no one ever said it wouldn’t have this editorial agenda given Gingrich is bankrolling it.
And now, come this December, Gingrich’s The Americano is sponsoring the First Annual Hispanic Forum 2010.
According to the website:
We are currently facing a battle of ideologies in democratic societies in many different regions. The Conference will focus on the importance of defending American values, democracy, and how best to counter political messages that threaten our natural right to freedom.
American Hispanics and the emerging Hispanic world already share the concept of American liberty, but there is still a long road to travel. This road to freedom represents a journey some have just begun. For the sake of liberty, human freedom, and those who are young in their democratic history, we need to defend this cause and do all we can to support Hispanics around the globe.
The forum already lists an impressive array of conservative Latino and Latina speakers – many of whom have actively challenged the greater GOP’s current stance on immigration.
Organizers have also sent word that they want people to nominate someone to be recognized as an “Outstanding Hispanic.” The person has had to have “attained personal, educational, or professional achievements and then given back to the community.”
The assumption is that people won’t be discriminated because of their party affiliation, or lack therof.
Recently, Gingrich announced that he was interested in running for the presidency.
And while he’s still courting Latinos in a backhanded kind of way, he’s come out more clearly with not condemning the NAACP’s recent Tea Party resolution. In fact, he suggested that the two groups hold joint Town Hall meetings to dialogue with one another.
It’s clear that Gingrich is all about dialogue these days and that’s definitely a step in the right direction. Yet, if that’s the case, then there’s one question that begs to be asked:
How come he doesn’t speak out encouraging his party to go to the table with the Democrats and start working on reforming immigration?
During these days, that is the ultimate outreach to the Latino community.