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Editorial: Hispanics and the GOP
Guest EditorialMarch 27, 2013 | 923 views | Post a comment
I am considering a career move to become a “professional Hispanic.” A professional Hispanic is a person who cries “Hispanic!” anytime they see an opportunity or they want attention.
Recently, some professional Hispanics gave their opinions to national GOP leaders and to the national media about how the Republican Party needs to “reach out” and to “embrace” Hispanics. Some hinted at the Party accepting some form of amnesty for the 12-14 million illegal aliens in the United States. What’s shameful is that many of these professional Hispanics are yelling “the sky is falling” so they can get contracts marketing the GOP to Hispanics.
However, the GOP leaders should understand the following points. First, Hispanics are not all the same. Some are Cubans, some are Puerto Ricans, and some are Mexican Americans. Some are acculturated, others are bilingual/bicultural, and yet others just arrived in the United States. No one group or person can assume to speak on their behalf or know what’s best for Hispanics as a whole.
Second, immigration, amnesty, and Hispanic support for the GOP have never been tied to each other. In 1984 Walter Mondale won 61 percent of the Hispanic vote while Ronald Reagan took 37 percent in a national landslide victory. Two years later, Reagan signed into law the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli Immigration Reform Act, which gave amnesty to several million illegal aliens. That amnesty was supposed to bring Hispanics into the GOP, but in 1988 Democrat candidate Michael Dukakis took 69 percent of the Hispanic vote while George H.W. Bush won 30 percent. Amnesty didn’t help the GOP very much. In 1996 Bill Clinton took 72 percent of the Hispanic vote while Bob Dole only captured 21 percent. That was the lowest Hispanic support for a Republican candidate ever recorded. However, in 2004 John Kerry got 58 percent of the Hispanic vote, while George W. Bush won 40 percent, which is the highest Hispanic support for a Republican candidate on record. Contrary to what many think, immigration and amnesty are not critical.
Third, to win Hispanic support in any election, good grass-roots organizing is needed as well as candidates that are accessible and responsive. (Romney had neither.) This means the GOP precinct chairs, GOP clubs, and conservative organizations like the Tea Party must be active in the outreach to Hispanics. These people should be speaking to their Hispanic friends and neighbors, inviting them to meetings and providing them information. The personal touch is more important to winning Hispanic votes (or anyone else) than some slick marketing campaign.
Republicans, particularly in Texas, should not pay “professional Hispanics” to do what precinct chairs, conservative groups, and candidates should be doing. If the GOP is going to win elections at the national, state, and local levels, then GOP leaders and candidates need to reach out at the local level.
As an American of Mexican descent, I personally want politicians who are responsive and accountable on conservative issues. I do not need ethnic pandering by professional Hispanics.
George Rodriguez is president of the South Texas Alliance for Progress. Follow him on Facebook at “El Conservador.”
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