Karl Rove wrote about a subject that is near and dear to my heart and with which I wholeheartedly agree. In his article in the Wall Street Journal last week, Rove raised several issues regarding the Republican Party’s ability to successfully woo Hispanic voters.
He mentioned that while Latinos overwhelmingly support the passage of immigration reform, that isn’t their single concern — the economy and jobs are just as important to them as they are to the rest of Americans.
It’s true that Hispanics overall aren’t interested only in immigration reform. Right now though, it happens to be the big elephant in the room, and it is the one single political issue that could make or break the Republican Party with Hispanics for years to come. That, along with the dwindling white population and ever-growing Hispanic population, could sink any prospects of electing a Republican president in the future.
He goes on to point out that certain Republicans prefer that the party go all out to court whites rather than Hispanics. Simply said, it’s a numbers game from here on in, and whether the Republican Party old guard likes it or not, the party has its work cut out to successfully elect the next President of the United States based on demographic changes alone, nevermind anything else.
For all it’s worth, the Republican Party is moving forward to reach out to Hispanics by creating an outreach position at the Republican National Committee (RNC). The person in charge of this effort is Jennifer Sevilla Korn, who goes by Jenny Korn — a name that no one outside the party will know belongs to a person of Hispanic heritage.
The RNC will have to carry out a huge public relations blitz to promote her within the Hispanic community, as well as to promote its agenda from now until the 2016 election cycle. It’s one thing for the Republican Party to establish an outreach program to reach out to Hispanics, but it’s totally another issue to convince them to vote for Republican candidates — and therein lies the Republican Party’s biggest challenge.
The Republican Party needs to update its approach
For years, the Republican Party has referred to the Hispanic community as their partner in conservatism (i.e., they consider Hispanics to lean more toward conservative issues than other minority groups), yet it’s amazing that the party hasn’t done more to work with this community to capture their interest and their vote until now.
The reason there is suspicion in the Hispanic community about the GOP’s current efforts to reach out to them is that they’ve never been truly courted until Mitt Romney’s loss on the Hispanic front was handed to him on a plate full of enchiladas.
But the Republican Party still doesn’t get it — Hispanics aren’t going to become members of the Republican Party because of a mere legislative piece or because the party is developing an outreach program especially for them. If you recall, many Latino voters said after the 2012 presidential election that they voted for Barack Obama because he and the Democratic Party made them feel comfortable.
Unfortunately, the party of Lincoln, unlike the Democratic Party, hasn’t traveled much on the road that leads to the Hispanic community, in turn making them feel unwelcome never mind uncomfortable. If anything, many Republican elected officials go out of their way to unnecessarily alienate Hispanic voters — especially those whose districts are comprised of primarily white conservative voters.
It’s as if they’d rather defend their place in their particular district rather than court a population group that has proven its effect on national election results, thereby conceding all future presidential elections to the Democrats.
In the meantime, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio understands that this country, for a whole host of reasons, needs immigration reform and did his part to make it happen. Currently, Sen. Rubio’s leading role in the immigration issue is recognized by many Hispanic households across America. Yet, tea party activists are coming after him as if he’d committed the biggest sin in America.
If immigration reform passes, Republicans won’t get much credit. But if it fails, Republicans will be blamed.
Any way you cut it, the future of the Republican Party lies in the hands of the millions of Hispanics that are poised to vote Democratic for many years to come unless they feel comfortable with the next GOP presidential candidate, the party and its platform.