To the Republican Party: We Told You So!

By: Daniel Nardini

There is no question that the Latino vote did help to contribute to the defeat of the Republican Party’s presidential candidate Mitt Romney on November 6th. Latinos voted three to one for current U.S. President Barack Obama. No, most Latinos are not thrilled about Obama. He did not keep his promises for immigration reform and to give Latinos more say in government in his first term. I cannot exactly believe that Obama will do much for Latinos in his second term either. However, Romney scared the hell out of most Latinos, and I am not surprised that Latinos voted in droves against Romney. I am surprised Romney got any votes from Latinos at all. One of the major goof-ups by Mitt Romney was to embrace the extreme anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. A leading member and lawyer for the anti-immigrant group the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform, Romney scared way too many Latinos into believing that if he won the election, he would support all kinds of discriminatory laws against Latinos.

More to the point, one of the reasons why the Republic Party itself had a poor showing with Latinos is that there are relatively few Latinos in the party. This was pointed out by current New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, one of the few leading Latinas in the party. In her view, the Republican Party could have more influence with Latinos if it had worked over the years to attract more Latinos into the party to begin with. In her view, a lack of ethnic and racial diversity had made it easier for the Democratic Party to state that the Republican Party is being run by a bunch of “white men.” While this is not true, this perception is a very strong one. There are many Latinos in the Republican Party. They have ancestry that comes from everywhere—from Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Venezuela, and so on and so on. The problem is that the numbers on the ground have not always translated out into political clout. The fact that the anti-immigrant factions in the party seem to have held sway during most of the election campaign has made the Republican Party seem all too much like an exclusive club for white men.

Even if Mitt Romney won the presidential election, Latinos within the Republican Party in many ways do not have a “voice.” Actually, they do have a voice, but that voice was largely drowned out. This did not help the party, nor the Latinos within it. What this means is that the Republican Party will have to do a major rethink about how to reach out to Latinos, emphasize that the Republican Party believes in conservative core values shared by most Latino families, and eject the strident anti-immigrant faction within the party that helped contribute to the ruin of the party’s chances to win the election. This of course is all easier said than done. The anti-immigrant faction will not be so easily kicked out, and chances are Latinos will make slow if any headway in the party at all. Nevertheless, leaders within the Republican Party will have to do a major rethink in regards to the Latino vote, and greater Latino participation in the party. With the coming 2014 and 2016 presidential election in the not-so-distant future, there is a lot at stake for the Grand Old Party.

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