Why the GOP should be court­ing His­pan­ics

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - GRACE VUOTO

Repub­li­cans are miss­ing a golden op­por­tu­nity to widen their base of sup­port and se­cure a long­stand­ing rul­ing ma­jor­ity. In re­cent months, His­pan­ics have at­tracted na­tional at­ten­tion mostly due to il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. How­ever, His­pan­ics should be of in­ter­est re­gard­less of this hot-but­ton topic. They must be courted on a variety of is­sues — or ig­nored at the peril of the fu­ture of the GOP and the con­ser­va­tive move­ment.

His­pan­ics are the largest mi­nor­ity group and are ex­pand­ing at a faster rate than any other seg­ment of Amer­ica. Lati­nos cur­rently com­prise 14 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion, or 43 mil­lion peo­ple. About eight mil­lion of th­ese are be­lieved to be il­le­gal. More­over, the Cen­sus Bureau es­ti­mates that by 2050, the His­panic pop­u­la­tion will triple. This will be fur­ther com­pounded by the flow of il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion across the south­ern border, which con­tin­ues un­abated.

In con­trast, by 2050, the nonHis­panic white pop­u­la­tion will in­crease by only 7.4 per­cent.

Thus, even if the border is mirac­u­lously and im­me­di­ately shut down, Amer­i­can de­mo­graph­ics have been ir­re­vo­ca­bly altered. His­pan­ics are here to stay; and they will be in­creas­ingly in­flu­en­tial in our so­ci­ety.

The ques­tion now re­mains: Will His­pan­ics mir­ror the vot­ing pat- terns of African-Amer­i­cans and largely for­sake the GOP, or will they be­come stal­wart al­lies and help the party to se­cure re­peated elec­toral vic­to­ries? We stand at a rare mo­ment in a na­tion’s his­tory when a few ac­tions will de­ter­mine the fate of two ma­jor groups — Repub­li­cans and His­pan­ics — and con­se­quently al­ter Amer­i­can pol­i­tics.

Both Repub­li­cans and His­pan­ics will greatly ben­e­fit by forg­ing an al­liance. This is the com- pelling ar­gu­ment in Les­lie Sanchez’s re­cent book, “Los Repub­li­canos: Why His­pan­ics and Repub­li­cans Need Each Other.” Ms. Sanchez, the founder of IM­PACTO Group LLC and a for­mer mem­ber of the Repub­li­can team for His­panic out­reach, ar­gues that most His­pan­ics have con­ser­va­tive be­liefs. Yet, the vast ma­jor­ity do not iden­tify them­selves as such. Thus, Repub­li­cans need to re­veal to Lati­nos how the party’s ideals are in har­mony with car­di­nal His­panic val­ues. On the other hand, His­pan­ics must re­al­ize that em­brac­ing the con­ser­va­tive mes­sage will be more to their ad­van­tage than ac­cept­ing the Democrats’ pre­vail­ing de­struc­tive ide­ol­ogy of de­pen­dence and vic­ti­mol­ogy.

Ms. Sanchez’s ex­ten­sive re­search re­veals that Lati­nos are nat­u­ral con­ser­va­tives. The vast ma­jor­ity sup­port tra­di­tional val­ues. His­pan­ics are more spir­i­tual than the rest of the Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion; a ma­jor­ity are pro-life on abor­tion and op­pose same-sex “mar­riage.” They are stal­wart de­fend­ers of fam­ily and com­mu­nity; they are gen­er­ally pa­tri­otic and law-abid­ing. Many His­pan­ics are en­tre­pre­neur­ial: They are start­ing their own busi­nesses at three times the rate of the rest of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion. His­pan­ics are proud and self-re­liant: They dis­like big gov­ern­ment and tax-and­spend poli­cies; in fact, only a small per­cent­age rely on gov­ern­ment pro­grams. In essence, His­pan­ics strive to im­prove their lot by their own ef­forts. Thus, re­gard­ing both so­cial and fis­cal is­sues, most Lati­nos live ac­cord­ing to con­ser­va­tive prin­ci­ples.

Yet His­pan­ics none­the­less vote 10 to 15 points more for Democrats than Repub­li­cans. This is likely to change due to three ma­jor fac­tors that are in­creas­ingly com­pelling this mi­nor­ity group to grav­i­tate to­ward the GOP: a ris­ing class of young pro­fes­sion­als who are drawn to poli­cies of fis­cal re­straint; a grow­ing, ac­tivist group of evan­gel­i­cal His­pan­ics who are pas­sion­ate and vo­cal on so­cial is­sues; and a large and grow­ing pop­u­la­tion in south­ern states, es­pe­cially in the sub­urbs, that is adopt­ing the con­ser­vatism of the re­gion. Th­ese fac­tors, along with the pop­u­la­tion’s tra­di­tional her­itage, make them ripe Repub­li­can re­cruits.

The His­panic vote there­fore re­mains up for grabs. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Repub­li­cans and His­pan­ics has been badly dam­aged as a re­sult of the re­cent failed im­mi­gra­tion bill. How­ever, Repub­li­cans need to re­mem­ber that, in most sur­veys, im­mi­gra­tion ranks fourth or even as low as sev­enth among is­sues His­pan­ics hold most dear. They have been tem­po­rar­ily alien­ated, not be­cause the bill failed, but due to the over­all tone and lan­guage used by many Repub­li­can op­po­nents of the bill and their ob­vi­ous com­plete lack of un­der­stand­ing, sym­pa­thy and ed­u­ca­tion about the His­panic com­mu­nity.

Many His­pan­ics want to join the GOP, but they of­ten do not feel wel­come. And Repub­li­cans des­per­ately need the His­panic vote; yet they re­main un­com­fort­able court­ing this group for fear they must aban­don their prin­ci­ples or will lose their base of sup­port in the process. Both must rec­og­nize that th­ese bar­ri­ers can be eas­ily sur­mounted.

It is time both sides ex­tend a warm em­brace. Repub­li­cans and His­pan­ics are brothers: By work­ing to­gether they can trans­form Amer­i­can pol­i­tics for gen­er­a­tions to come.

Grace Vuoto is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Ed­mund Burke In­sti­tute for Amer­i­can Re­newal. The views ex­pressed in this op-ed are her own.

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