GOP Outreach to Latinos Draws Fire from Conservatives

Bush made headlines when he told the two hundred or so people in the audience that, because of the growth of the Latino community, it would be “incredibly stupid” for Republicans to ignore the Latino vote.

I’ll co-sign that. And I’d add that what would be even more stupid would be for Republicans to continue to do what they do now, which is far worse than ignoring. These days, many Republicans antagonize Latinos by using them as piñatas to entertain white constituents -- or, worse, boogey men to scare up votes. This is the modus operandi for too many in the GOP who are content to use Latinos as a convenient foil.

And yet, it seems not every conservative wants to kiss and make up with Latinos. Some just want to fight. And they resent being treated like the problem children of the GOP. So that leads them to go on the defensive and slug it out with anyone who is offering Latinos an olive branch.

This includes the racist and reactionary website, vdare.com, which quickly published a snarky piece about the conference -- the basic point of which seemed to be that these kinds of overtures were foolish, unnecessary, and racist because they targeted a specific ethnic group: Latinos.

It also includes radio talk show host Mark Levin, who slammed Bush for his remarks. According to Levine, they were nothing less than “divisive” and “destructive of conservatism.” The host accused Bush of “race-baiting” and of not being “that bright.”

Repairing the breach between Republicans and Latinos won’t destroy conservatism. It will extend its life by giving it a heart transplant. And the greatness of this nation isn’t defined by cultural uniformity but rather by its immigrant traditions. It has always been thus. Pick up a history book. It’s not like Latinos are the first ethnic group to get schmoozed by a political party. If it wasn’t considered the end of civilization a hundred years ago when the folks getting courted were Italian, Irish or Jewish, why is it any different today?

Besides, in the final analysis, what are the critics so worried about? It’s not like Jeb Bush insulted the Republican Party, and so they had to rush in and defend its honor. I did some GOP-bashing in my remarks. But Bush simply warned his fellow Republicans that they couldn’t afford to ignore Latinos. Do his detractors really want to take the opposite view, and argue that the party should disregard a group of voters?

If so, they shouldn't be surprised when, come election day, Latinos return the favor.