Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus just announced the party’s strategy to win elections and build the party. The party’s strategy, based on its Growth and Opportunity project, includes some old ideas and some innovative ones that, if all work, could possibly put the party of Lincoln on a path to winning elections and possibly the White House in 2016.
The announcement was based on 219 recommendations made by party members throughout the country. One of the most attention-getting proposals is the field operation effort which will cost approximately $10 million. The field operation is designed to engage communities at the local level, focusing on demographic target groups. The Republican National Committee plans to hire political directors from the Hispanic, Asian, African American communities as well as from women’s groups. The party will invest in a mobile voter registration effort and while doing so will conduct an aggressive marketing campaign across the country, especially in minority communities, about what it means to be a Republican.
They will beef up their communication efforts with representatives from these minority communities, and will hire field staff specifically targeted toward the 2014 congressional races. While this is going on, the party plans to establish senior level advisory councils for Hispanics as well as for African Americans and Asians. They will establish swearing-in citizenship teams to introduce new citizens to the Grand Old Party after naturalization ceremonies and they will communicate more with groups such as LULAC, NALEO, NCLR and the NAACP, etc.
The Republican Party must walk the walk
Indeed the Republican Party’s strategy is ambitious and does more to reach minorities than ever before. However, there is a long way to go for the party to begin to attract minorities, especially Hispanics.
For one thing, it’s not enough for the Republican Party leadership to say they plan a strategy to go into the communities to get acquainted, to register voters and to attend citizenship swearing in ceremonies. The leadership must understand we Hispanics are not a monolithic group. We may speak Spanish but our cultural backgrounds and political interests can be very different. The Democrats have proven they get this. Only the Hispanic Republicans can teach the differences and the Republican leadership, if it expects to effectively reach out to Latinos, must learn to listen to them, as in really listen and understand.
Moreover, it will not be enough to attend the national conferences of Hispanic organizations such as the NCLR and LULAC. The Republican leaders will have to stop and talk with the convention attendees, not just speak a few words and rush off after the speech as if someone yelled, “fire.”
The party should take note from Republican Congressman Steve Pearce, who is re-elected time and time again in a predominantly Democratic district in New Mexico. He gets elected because he pays close attention to his constituents and responds quickly to their needs. Meanwhile, the Republican Party can throw Senator Marco Rubio at the Hispanic community all they want, but Rubio—who is of Cuban background—will have to roll up his sleeves and get to know the other Hispanic subgroups, especially the Mexican-Americans, just as a non-Hispanic White would have to do.
The late Dr. Hector P. Garcia of Corpus Christi called Mexican Americans, “the forgotten people.” We Mexican Americans indeed have been forgotten within the Republican ranks. Yet, we are the largest sub group of all Hispanics and reside in decisive swing states that in the 2012 presidential election made the difference in electing Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. This group should be center stage in any effort to build the Republican Party, certainly not to the detriment of excluding other Hispanic sub groups just in a way to engage us more than before. Of course, we Mexican Americans need to engage ourselves more if we want to make a difference within the Republican Party.
More of us should run for office, work in campaigns and bring other Hispanics along into the party. The party also has its work cut out for them in terms of bringing together all those claiming to be Republicans. At last weekend’s convention of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), there were some who spoke ill of other Republicans. This sort of Republican bashing against each other doesn’t go unnoticed by those that are trying to decide whether to join the Republican Party—”if they attack each other what will they say about me” is a legitimate fear of those looking toward the party of Lincoln. So there is a lot of work ahead for Chairman Priebus before he can even dream of bringing his new strategy to fruition, but with the help of dedicated and committed Hispanic Republicans he may just very well accomplish his strategic goals. Stay tuned!