Why We’re Losing the Latino Vote Faster than Usual.

by Little Miss Attila on November 26, 2008

Ruben Navarrette, Jr., at PJ Media has the scoop. This is a pet peeve of mine. For every intellectually consistent “enforcement first” anti-”illegal” advocate out there, someone is on the radio complaining about taco stands, or people who speak Spanish among themselves, or use too much cilantro on their food. Presumably we should trade in those tamales for something American—like pizza.

Even the sainted Mark Steyn complained in America Alone about “Hispanics” and “assimilation” and “learning to speak English,” as if there aren’t plenty of Latinos out there who don’t speak Spanish at all (or know precious little). Why?—because they were born here, Mark. And plenty of their parents wouldn’t let them speak it at home, or if they did they’ve largely forgotten most of their Spanish vocabularies as they’ve moved into jobs where they’re rubbing elbows with WASPs and WASCs and blacks and Asians and American Indians and Indian Indians and even those people from Commonwealth countries, whom one can barely understand.

The nation’s 46 million Hispanics are America’s largest minority, and they’re on track to represent one in four Americans by 2042. Every two years, another 1 million Hispanics join the voter rolls. Two-thirds of Hispanics voted for Barack Obama. Political experts say that, if Republicans don’t stop hemorrhaging Hispanic support, they might never win another presidential election. Period.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Republicans need to re-brand their party and convince Hispanics they’re welcome. If they believe their ideas on education, economics, defense, trade, foreign policy, and other issues are superior, let them make that case to Hispanics. That doesn’t mean ditching their core principles, but it might mean changing their tone. It doesn’t mean alienating core voters, but it does means being more inclusive.

And it doesn’t mean giving up the party’s opposition to illegal immigration. Polling suggests that Hispanics will go along with enforcement measures that seem reasonable such as increasing the number of border patrol agents and giving them resources. The GOP doesn’t need to sign on to open borders. But it wouldn’t hurt to open a few minds within the party.

Specifically, there are five things that Republicans did which [that] cost them Hispanic support.

• They made language and culture the issue rather than illegality, which irked U.S.-born Hispanics who might otherwise have stayed out of the fray;

• They didn’t condemn the racism in their ranks on the part of those who believe that Hispanic immigrants are inferior to the immigrants of old;

• They let the debate digress from one that was anti-illegal immigration to one that was anti-immigrant to, finally, one that was anti-Hispanic;

• They fell into the trap of offering simple solutions to what remains a complicated problem; and

• They either assumed that Hispanics were not in play or that they could win some of those votes on the cheap with a spattering of Spanish ads.

None of this worked out very well, as some conservative commentators are starting to figure out. During a recent appearance on the Hugh Hewitt radio show, neoconservative commentator John Podhoretz described the GOP’s anti-immigrant saber rattling as a “political and demographic disaster” for Republicans.

He’s right. And you notice Podhoretz said “anti-immigrant” as opposed to anti-illegal immigrant. He’s right about that too. People like to pretend they’re only opposed to illegal immigration. But, when they start to list the reasons why, it usually boils down to the fear that American culture is changing for the worse. And, whether it’s about language or food or customs, it is not just illegal immigrants who bring those changes. It’s also legal residents and U.S.-born Hispanics.

So, not surprisingly, a large swath of the Hispanic community takes offense — and, in the case of an embattled political party, takes names.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Synova November 26, 2008 at 11:30 am

The Hispanic people here in Albuquerque had ancestors in this city that took up collections to send to the colonists fighting the English in the revolutionary war.

One thing that I see missing from what is quoted above is whatever extent the “anti-immigrant” label is imposed by the open border folks, the amnesty people, and those who simply, reflexively oppose anything the “other side” does. Certainly it makes it harder to control one’s “brand” when people on the anti-illegal immigrant side complain about taco stands, but lets admit there are other forces trying to define the conversation than just the anti-illegal people and the anti-immigration people.

Isn’t it true that those pushing for exactly the sort of common sense enforcement measures listed are labeled racist?

Do you think that would change if the idiots calling radio shows to complain about taco stands stopped calling in?


Little Miss Attila November 26, 2008 at 12:08 pm

I’m perfectly aware that there are people who will label anything the center-right does as racist.

Hell; some Obama supporters labeled it racist for people to criticize Big O–or even to vote against him.

And my position has come around to enforcement first (reluctantly), because of the national-security risk of leaving the borders as porous as they are: we must check for criminal backgrounds and terrorist ties before we let people across. And then we can discuss the path to citizenship for those who truly do want to stay, work, and become American. (We know what happens when we do this in the wrong order.)

But a lot of those who complain about the issue remind me of my bigoted grandfather, with his “chilipod”-this, and “chilipod’-that, and his incessant whining that at some point nonhispanic whites would end up as a minority!

As long as people are working hard, and learning English, I really have no problem with them. In fact, that’s one of the things I’ll miss about Bush: it was cool to have Latinos as part of the extended First Family.

Weren’t we at one point supposed to be . . . a melting pot? Remember?


Little Miss Attila November 26, 2008 at 1:52 pm

And it’s one thing for anti-taco idiots to call in to talk radio–another thing entirely when the host doesn’t rebuke them, or at least come up with the verbal equivalent of rolling his eyes.


adagioforstrings November 26, 2008 at 4:53 pm

This topic is one you can vote on where you imagine that you influence the next RNC chair…currently ranked #11 behind reaching out to Ron Paul voters…:

do a better job in Black and Latino communities


‘I’m a Black conservative/republican. 95% of Blacks vote Democrat and 60% of Latinos. Those stats are RIDICULOUS. There is no way America can become this multicultural and our party not have a plan.


Darrell November 27, 2008 at 1:00 am

2/3rds of Latinos voted for Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter before him. Cubans vote heavily Republican. Lev Davidovich Trotsky did not wind up in Mexico by accident.
Or a Carnival Cruise.

If you change your core principles to lure new voters, you’ve lost anyway. Legal immigration–si. Anything else–no. Revisit 1963.


Little Miss Attila November 27, 2008 at 11:28 am

Of course–but I’ve been around members of the GOP whose first question, upon meeting someone with a Latin American accent, has been “are you here legally?” The presumption that any Latino is likely to be here illegally is rather offensive, and does not serve us well.


Brendan Kelly November 27, 2008 at 3:27 pm



I live in Houston now, but my Mom immigrated from the UK right after WWII, my wife’s family came over from England when he was hired to work on the Apollo Project in the 60s. I was raised in Albuquerque where all my friends were named Armijo, Chavez, and Vigil who had ancestors who had moved to New Mexico back when John Adams was still in diapers. This gave me an interesting persepective on the immigration issue.

Yes, the GOP lost because they decided to spend 2007 and much of 2008 resurrecting the Know Nothing Party Platform of 1854.

Sure, it was the talk radio hosts who drove the issue, but when a political party is unable to distinguish between what makes good radio and what makes good policy, you know you have a problem. I strongly suspect that this was done “as a sop to the base” by the inside the beltway Bushies. The fact that they thought that that clown Trancdeo and his dozens of followers represented the base of their party gives good evidence of just how out of contact they are with the people who really make up the rank and file of the GOP.

The really tragic thing was that this had been done before. Prop 187 ended Pete Wilson’s political career, as well as any hope of California voting Republican for at least a generation. Gov. Schwarzenegger is the only Republican to win a gubernatorial, senatorial, or presidential election in California since 1994, thanks to the work done by Pete Wilson and Prop 187, as you know all to well. How replicating this on a national level was supposed to end well for the GOP is beyond me.

None the less, in 2007 and most of 2008 the GOP leadership decided to replicate the “success” of Prop 187 by making illegal immigration their nationwide centerpiece issue. The Country Club GOP leadership may not have totally embraced Tom Trancedo and his supporters, but as a sop to the base they did gave them center stage for about 18 months. By doing so the GOP managed to distract the national conversation from Iraq, or the increasingly obvious bubble in stocks and housing, but they also proceeded to systematically and repeatedly offend every Hispanic and immigrant voter in the country.

(Personally I find it highly offensive that the Country Club Republican “leadership” would think that Tracnedo and his ilk somehow represented the actual base of the GOP. One gets the impression that the Country Club GOP leaders have the same opinion of the Republican Base that the Democratic Country Club members do.)

The Country Club GOP leadership may have forgotten this, but Hispanic voters did not, as you can see from the polling data..and based upon the experience of California probably will not. The House GOP’s shameful embrace of Nativisim regarding the immigration reform bills of 07 and 08 will not been forgotten.

The frustrating thing is, in order to please a tiny minority of people who will probably vote GOP anyway, the Republicans went out of their way to offend people who, had sanity and not bigotry prevailed, they should have been recruiting. The Hispanic people I know (and coming from Texas and New Mexico that is a lot) generally have strong family values, are generally pro-life, have a strong work ethic and include a great many small businesses owners. In fact the biggest social change in the Hispanic community in America is that they are moving in increasing numbers from the Catholic Church to Evangelical Protestantisim, hardly a move away from the traditional social postitions that would normally cause them to vote Republican. These people make up the largest and fastest growing minority group in America, and they were turned away from the GOP by a small group of loud, activist, nativist nuts, and the GOP leadership was happy to let this happen in the name of “placating” a base they know only through polling data and the columns of The NEW YORKER.

Hispanic voters have deep roots in America. Los Angeles, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, St Augustine, San Antonio, San Francisco, San Diego and Corpus Christi are all very old cities, and they were not founded by wandering ice cream makers from Vermont. None the less, for most of 2007 and 2008 voters who are rightfully proud of the fact their families had come to America back when John Adams was still a loyal subject of King George were told by the GOP, (or at least the GOP’s allies in talk radio) that they should stop speaking Spanish, stop clogging up our emergency rooms, and “go back to Mexico”. While the word “wetback” was never (to my knowledge) actually used by on the floor by the House Republicans during the immigration debate, it was certianly “hanging in the air” while the GOP was pushing bills to make English the nation’s official language and turned “amnesty” into a dirty word. (Such words were literally “in the air” if one listened to talk radio a that time; I distinctly recall Talk Show Host Mike Gallagher comparing Hispanics to a “nest of filthy breeding rats”, right before I switched him off permanently.)

All the Dems had to do at this point was register these voters and deliver them to the polls. Tom Trancedo, Pat Buchanan, Michael Savage, Peter King, Mike Gallagher, Lamar Smith, Eric Cantor, and dozens of others had already convinced these folks to vote straight ticket.


Sejanus November 30, 2008 at 1:26 am

I opposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform, or amnesty because it was a bad idea cooked up by a failed president and immediately embraced by leftist as an oppurtunity to apply social engineering principles to Mexican families that worked so well on Black families when they got hold of them in the sixties.

The plan eventually boiled down to slavery without the boat ride. The problem is we have a farm workers visa program that allows them to bring in as many legal pickers as they want but farmers prefer illegals. The problem with illegal immigrants is the darn illegals won’t stay in one place doing the shitty jobs we hired them for so the Democrats (This means you Senator Feinstein) proposed a sort of tenure plan to keep’em down on the farm. The libertarian farm lobby loved it because they didn’t have to pay them minimum wage and local government would continue to pick up their health care costs I can only dream what immigration reform will look like under Obama.

I thought Tom Tancredo ran a reasonable but boring campaign considering the Billingsgate being slung his way by Maldef and La Raza(The Race). The racism in this issue mostly flows from the open borders crowd that knows if their opponents ever get a fair hearing their support disappears. The main stream media effectively marginalized Tancredo since his message didn’t fit with their narrative of what Americans were concerned about.

We have, since the seventies, let in one million or so legal immigrants every year, that’s more than the rest of the world combined they and their children account for the entire population increase in the United States since then, illegals add another half million or so a year. The Democrats recognize that and pander to immigrant sensibilities in order to secure their votes. This has historical precedent, Mayor Wagner encouraged Puerto Ricans to settle in New York, and the political machine took it from there. Puerto Ricans are citizens already so there is not a direct comparison but you can thank his honor for making the big apple into the Democratic paradise it is.

I think Mr Kelly’s comments are informed with sentiments derived more from MSNBC than FNC. I am not surprised that the citizens of Albuquerque sent a contribution to the Continental Congress as they were subjects of Spain and hence an ally. The governor of Mexico Bernardo Galvez, the man Galveston is named after did great service to the American cause by defeating the Brits at Pensacola but again as a Spanish subject and not necessarily because he was nuts about Democracy. I doubt if history lessons about how the Spanish settlers were here before Americans stealing the land from Indians are useful to your argument, even less so are pasting sentences from Wikipedia articles.

I believe that the Republican Party should show Latino voters that they are the party of church goers, that opposes Gay marriage, recreational abortion and government interference in peoples’ lives. Latinos are remarkably conventional as far as morality goes and you’d be surprised how appealing that last one is to people that have lived under a Permanent Revolutionary Party. I think instead of kissing some ethnic group’s collective ass, the Republicans should polish up there principles and let people vote their own self interest

We might also learn that there is a difference between Socialism and paying higher taxes, I think immigrants can be shown that the reason they came to America in the first place was because of the relative lack of Socialism here as opposed to where they came from.


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