How the GOP Should Talk (and Not Talk) to Latinos About Immigration

6) And finally, once they determine that they are, in fact, in a hole with Latino voters, rather than change their tone and improve their policies, they go for a “quick fix” such as proposing that whoever eventually wins the GOP presidential nomination put U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio from Florida on the ticket as kind of a silver bullet solution and one-man PR team.

What Republicans could do right instead:

1) They could stop shading the truth and be honest about the nature of the problem and what they’re going to do to fix it, how what they propose would work, and why it is a better alternative to what is currently being suggested by others and just tell the truth about what motivates them to tackle the issue and what concerns them about the present situation;

2) They could resist dwelling on the negative and instead accentuate the positives associated with immigration -- even the illegal kind -- while also acknowledging the contributions that illegal immigrants make to the economy and industries like agriculture by doing jobs that Americans won’t do, paying taxes, and increasing profits for companies that pay taxes;

3) They could acknowledge that simple solutions don’t work and instead offer substantive and complex proposals for dealing with illegal immigration that reflect a deeper understanding of just how complicated the issue can be and which actually stand a chance of working because they don’t oversimplify the challenge;

4) They could stop taking an all or nothing approach to the immigration debate, be more flexible in their demands and more realistic in their expectations, and learn to compromise in ways that give them most of what they want even if they don’t get everything they ask for;

5) They could find their backbone and stand up to the racists, nativists, and xenophobes in their own party and, to do that, they’ll need to first acknowledge that this sort of poison is in this debate and do everything they can to eliminate it by coming down hard on those who put it there;

6) And, finally, they could forget about those quick and easy fixes that don’t accomplish anything (i.e., “Marco Rubio for Vice President”) and concentrate instead on watching their tone, holding their tongue, changing their policies, and improving their ideas in concrete ways so they can approach Latino voters more successfully.

And this is just what I told the group of Republicans at the Lincoln Club in Orange County. Some of my remarks were well received, and other parts weren’t. Some people were ready to hear the message, and others looked like they were ready to kill the messenger. Some stuck around after the panel to meet me and pose for pictures, and others hightailed it out of there.

That kind of mixed reaction is totally understandable. Not everyone in the Republican Party is ready to hear this kind of blunt and tough talk. Well, they had better get ready. Because, unless Republicans kiss and make up with Latinos over immigration -- and fast -- there’s a good chance their party won’t be around much longer.