Sunday, June 12, 2016

The GOP’s Hispanic Crucible

As a long time political activist, first for the GOP and now for LGBT rights issues, I continue to be stunned at the shortsightedness of the GOP's continued focus on the shrinking, aging and poorly educated white voting block at the expense of the growing Hispanic and non-white population.  Do the numbers and extrapolate out in the future and it is a recipe for political extinction unless the party plans on imposing a right wing dictatorship under someone like Donald Trump so that voting no longer matters.  I simply do not understand the logic - or more accurately, the lack thereof.   An editorial in the New York Times looks at the baffling shortsightedness.  Here are excerpts:
Republican leaders laid out a blueprint for the revival of their party after the defeat of Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. “If Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies,” the so-called autopsy report warned, noting that Mr. Romney had received 27 percent of the Latino vote, down from George W. Bush’s 44 percent in 2004. Quoting Dick Armey, the former House Republican leader from Texas, the report cautioned, “You can’t call someone ugly and expect them to go to the prom with you.”
Yet now, Republicans are doing just that. Donald Trump has emerged as the party’s standard-bearer while scapegoating Latinos and other minorities to stoke the fears and resentment of working-class white voters. . . . He recently created another wave of consternation by accusing an American-born federal judge of being biased because of his Mexican ancestry.
The Trump candidacy has put other Republican candidates in a bind. They can tie their lot to his immigrant-bashing campaign and hope that voter-suppression tactics will blunt the growing segments of the electorate galvanized by the prospect of defeating him. Or they can disavow him, recognizing that further alienating nonwhite voters will do severe damage to the party in the long run.
Besides being self-defeating, vilifying groups of people is morally abhorrent. Republicans are signaling to millions of citizens and aspiring Americans: You’re not welcome here; this is not your home.
This hostility has invigorated a decades-long effort by Latinos and other groups to increase political participation. More than 27 million Latinos will be eligible to vote in November, a 60 percent increase from a decade ago. Civic groups and Spanish-language media are making a huge push to register voters and get permanent residents to become citizens in swing states, hoping to unlock the power of a voting bloc that has historically had low turnout.
California’s political evolution offers a lesson for Republicans. In 1994, Pete Wilson, then the governor, championed a ballot initiative to bar unauthorized immigrants from public services as he ran for re-election in a tight race. He won, and the initiative, known as Proposition 187, passed. But the highly divisive campaign over the measure, which was thrown out by the courts, set off a surge of political participation by Latinos that has kept the Democratic Party dominant in the state ever since.
Republican leaders in other states watched California with alarm. While some have tried to make the party more inclusive, the prevailing tactic has been to underhandedly discourage minority voters.
Whites now make up 70 percent of the electorate, down from 85 percent in 1980. Demographers project that by 2060, whites will make up 46 percent of the voting pool, while the Latino bloc will have grown from the current 13 percent to 27 percent. Given those trends, it’s astounding that the Republican Party has taken a harder line on immigration.
“It’s a self-defeating strategy in the long term,” said Representative Joaquín Castro, a Democrat from Texas. “But the focus for a lot of politicians here is the short term. A lot of them don’t think they’ll be in politics in 20 years.”
Maybe things will change after the November election, said Representative Ruben Gallego, a Democrat from Arizona. “The way to push back on all this is to have an absolute victory at the ballot box and force the Republican Party to have a conversation about what it needs to do in order to survive,” he said. Of course, that is the same conversation they had, and then ignored, in 2012.

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