November 7, 2012
After Tuesday’s big win for Democrats, who kept control of the Senate and White House, the Republican Party verges on obsolescence. If Republicans cannot win against high unemployment, soaring debt, nagging inflation and a foreign policy scandal, they cannot win most future state and national elections under any conditions.
As this column often points out, Republicans have been felony stupid in their ostracism of Hispanics — the largest-growing and most fundamentally Republican demographic in the country. It is unfathomable that leaders of a major political party would offend and effectively write off this group without expecting dire consequences.
Yet, that’s exactly what Republicans have done. By one account, Obama’s support among Hispanics on Tuesday was a whopping 71 percent; 27 percent for Romney. This, despite the fact Hispanics are largely church-going, traditional-values Catholics who oppose abortion, same-sex marriage and generally embrace much of what Republicans advocate. Given more Hispanic support, Romney could have won in a landslide.
Ronald Reagan understood the value of Hispanics in the 1980s, when they made up a considerably smaller voting bloc. He reached out and won 40 percent support in 1984.
George W. Bush built on Reagan’s legacy and received 44 percent support in 2004 to win a second term. Republicans could and should have built on that base.
In a 2011 article for Latino Magazine, Ruben Navarette explained that Obama’s Latino support had plunged to about 50 percent. Like other Americans, Latinos worried about home foreclosures, unemployment and all aspects of Obamanomics. Furthermore, Obama had deported illegal immigrants at a rate higher than any president in history and had done nothing to reform immigration.
Tea party conservatives had elected big-name Hispanics in 2010, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. Never had Latino support been more available to the GOP.
Instead of capitalizing, Republicans outdid each other with hostile-sounding anti-immigrant rhetoric. Early in the primary, as polls showed waning Latino support for Obama, fellow Republicans ganged up on Texas Gov. Rick Perry during a debate. Perry, the farthest-right candidate among them, was pummeled for signing a bill to allow instate tuition for innocent children of illegal immigrants. Meanwhile, Obama cast himself as minority friendly.
“Never underestimate the power of a political party to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory,” wrote Navarette, explaining how Republicans wanted to “out swagger one another on the immigration issue.”
With the help of talk radio, viewed as a component of the GOP, Republicans appeared openly hostile to Latino culture.
“In a country that is becoming more Latino by the day, and where this group will likely account for 25 percent of the population by 2040, this is a suicide mission,” Navarette warned.
Mission accomplished. Resurrection will come only at the mercy of Hispanics, who Republicans must court. They should start by leading the charge for meaningful, constructive, humane and inclusive immigration reforms.
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