How to Appeal to Hispanics: DON'T!
I was scanning RealClearPolitics this weekend. And there it was: “Jeb to GOP: How to Appeal to Hispanics" by Mary Anastasia O'Grady of the Wall Street Journal. It's a preoccupation of both political parties. How do they get the fastest growing and the largest minority demographic to cast votes? But with the growing sophistication of the electorate at large and Hispanics in particular, this whole idea of “appeal” is being seen for what liberals have made it: “pandering.” For Democrats, the strategy is always the same: promise the world and rarely deliver. But the GOP always seems to be at a loss on how to get that far. Let me just say that my article isn't a criticism of the former governor of Florida; in fact, I'm a fan. Nor is this article a criticism of the writing of O'Grady. My only beef is with the premise: “appealing” to Hispanics. Why would any Hispanic take seriously a party that changes its values just to garner votes? Here's a thought: why not treat Hispanics just like any other group of Americans? The surname or skin color doesn't make a person any more worthy of lawmakers' attention. As an Hispanic man, I've always been of a mind that a winning strategy for the GOP in its “outreach” to Hispanics is: don't bother!
This whole concept of “outreach” -- that's what liberal politicians do. It's a cynical maneuver designed to tell certain interest groups what they want to hear. The whole idea is to rally that group just in time for elections to vote for Democrats. The problem is that those same Democrats end up ignoring those Hispanics and their issues the rest of the time. We've seen this most recently in the debate about the DREAM Act. The bill was so important to President Obama, Harry Reid, and deposed Speaker Nancy Pelosi that they couldn't be bothered to bring it up until just before the 2010 midterms.
We can also see the disastrous results when an ethnic group pledges its unconditional support to the Democratic Party. The black family is in shambles. According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, between 1980 and 2000, the proportion of all black families that were headed by single parents climbed from 52% to 63.2%. All the while, the African American community has voted in lockstep with Democrats. In the current economic disaster, blacks are hardest hit by job loss and poverty despite full Democratic control over all branches of government for two years and the first African American president. And who can forget the well publicized practice of Planned Parenthood, another liberal special interest group, targeting black women for abortion? The effort seems to be working, as a recent report showed that 60% of all black pregnancies end in abortion in New York City. With friends like liberals, who needs enemies? The Hispanic community owes a large debt of thanks to blacks for taking the slings and arrows from the Democrats and showing us the cost of unconditional devotion to any one political party.
The Republican Party ought to realize that Latinos are conservative in almost every way that is significant. The biggest struggle, as far as I can see, is for GOP candidates live up to the conservative roots in Republican Party platform. Consider the following. Only 20% of the U.S. population consider themselves liberal. A recent poll in Texas shows that 18% of the Hispanics in that state consider themselves liberal. Just about 1/5 of the Hispanic population self-identifies as liberal, roughly the same proportion as the United States at large. That means Republicans should forget pandering to Latinos. The GOP only needs to live up to its core values and 4/5 of Hispanics are up for grabs.
Culturally, Hispanics are hard-working individuals. Democrats can hardly lay claim to the mantle of hard work. To the contrary, the Democratic Party is the party of welfare. Democrats believe in pay for no work. We can see examples of this with the record extension of unemployment benefits advocated and passed by Democrats during our current economic crisis. We can also see evidence in Democratic constituencies like unions. Only a liberal could conceive of the auto industry's job bank, a program that pays union autoworkers for no work. Hispanics believe in being able to keep more of their hard-earned money so they can support their families and give to the charities of their choice. Contrast that with a Democratic Party that promises to confiscate more wealth commensurate with a person's success. Democrats have always believed they have the right and ability to spend your money better than you can. Democrats give taxpayer money to their own charities like GM, various banks, and the aforementioned unions. But as stated, Democrats give your money, not their own. Is it any wonder why survey after survey find that conservatives are more charitable?
Hispanics tend not to believe in abortion on demand. Democrats raise campaign funds promising to keep the barbaric practice going. The countries of origin of many Hispanics have governments that stand in stark contrast to conservative values. The governments in these despotic nations often control all the wealth for a select group of elites. The citizens are often left in abject poverty. Corruption is a way of life in these nations. That's why the ancestors of American Hispanics fled those nations. Democrats envy the unchallenged government power in these backward countries, but conservatives stand for something greater, our American ideals. In truth, it shouldn't be all that hard. Hispanic voters are ready to hear conservative ideas because they've seen the destruction that liberal thought brings. The GOP just has to articulate the differences between the parties.
If the GOP really wants a successful strategy for persuading Hispanics, for heaven's sake don't do “outreach.” Hispanics are sophisticated enough to know when we're being pandered to. The word “outreach” rings about as hollow as the myriad of campaign promises already broken by President Obama. We'd just as soon the GOP treat us as Americans, not as a voting bloc. We get plenty of that from Democrats already. If one must call this strategy something, to help get your mindset right, call it a“partnership.” That word indicates investments, skin in the game, and mutual risk and reward.
In short, if you want to “appeal” to Hispanics, don't -- at least not in the traditional liberal Democrat sense. Instead, recognize that Hispanics, at least the majority who are not overt leftists, want the same things that all Americans want. I think the GOP has been a victim of the mainstream press. The biased purveyors of so-called “news” in America have gone out of their way to present the Hispanic community as a monolithic voting bloc. And the media has been dutiful in trotting out the most extreme leftists imaginable as de facto spokespersons for that group. Is it any wonder that the GOP and America in general believe that all Hispanics want cradle-to-grave welfare, desire open borders with Mexico, and look at America as the “Great White Satan”? Rest assured, these loud-mouthed leftists in no way represent a majority of Hispanics, much less the total group. Our ancestors came to the United States to escape oppressive leftist governments. These governments were full of politicians that squandered wealth and resources in an effort to enrich themselves with control and power. The GOP shouldn't try to “appeal” to Hispanics by just telling us what they think we want to hear. It's a safe bet that if the Grand Ole Party simply advocates small constitutional government, low taxation, and the rule of law, they'll have the Hispanic vote. Just be honest and forthright and deliver on the promise that is America. That's where Democrats have fallen short. And it's all any American really wants.