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The GOP’s Hispanic Problem

Republicans would do well to avoid feeding the narrative that they are anti-Hispanic.

by
Ruben Navarrette Jr.

Bio

August 24, 2009 - 12:18 am
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I might be one of the last Latinos in the United States to think this way, but I still believe that America’s largest minority would be smart to keep open the possibility of voting Republican now and then.

Latinos will have more power and influence by putting their chips all over the board and splitting their votes between the parties than they would if they simply gave all their votes to Democrats in perpetuity. Besides, there are plenty of policy areas — vouchers, faith-based initiatives, school accountability, national defense, abortion, gay marriage, etc. –  where Republicans are more in sync than Democrats with the average Latino voter. So I think Latinos should give Republicans a chance to make their case, keep an open mind, and support candidates they can live with.

I’m hardheaded like that.

You see, these days, Republicans aren’t making it any easier for me to make that case. A few years ago, it was because of the immigration debate which some Republicans help give an anti-Hispanic flavor while refusing to acknowledge the degree to which the dialogue is propelled by racism, xenophobia, and a fear of demographic and cultural change.

And now, it is because 31 Republican senators recently voted against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor even after many admitted that she was qualified for the very position they were intent on denying her, leaving the impression that the Republicans were pandering to white constituents put on edge by Sotomayor’s speeches on “The World According to ‘A Wise Latina.’”

I’m hearing from a lot of Latinos from all around the country who tell me that it’s “game over” and that the GOP has cooked its chorizo with voters like them because of how the Republican senators treated Sotomayor. It’s not just the “no” votes. It’s the fact that those votes came with side orders of condescension and hostility and even ethnic-ribbing as when Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, channeled Ricky Ricardo and informed the federal judge that she “had some ‘splaining to do.”

Nice. Fit that man for a white sheet and matching hood.

Not surprisingly, Republicans are in denial about the backlash and don’t want to accept it. They’re whistling past the graveyard and telling themselves that they won’t pay a price for petty and condescending opposition to the first Latina Supreme Court nominee in U.S. history.

Good luck with that, folks.

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