OCALA, Fla., April 29, 2014 — It’s no secret that the Republican Party wants to win a greater share of the Hispanic vote. In order to compete throughout several battleground states, shoring up more Hispanic support is becoming a necessity.
The question is this: How should the GOP appeal itself to Hispanics?
First and foremost, it must be remembered that the term “Hispanic” does not denote a single ethnicity, let alone race. Rather, it is a label that many who descend from lands colonized by the Spanish Empire use to describe themselves. There are Hispanics of all races, ethnicities, and creeds.
However, in the United States, Mexicans constitute the overwhelming majority of Hispanics — 65 percent according to the Pew Center. Most Mexicans who have immigrated to the U.S. come from their country’s poorest ranks. The Mexican government encourages immigration to the United States for two reasons: Relieving a longstanding overpopulation crisis and ending generational poverty within its borders.
Considering this, the widespread support of big government programs among recent Hispanic arrivals is quite understandable. Well, to everyone except the GOP, that is.
Back in the late 2000s, George W. Bush and his congressional allies tried to pass a sweeping amnesty program for illegal aliens. Due to unexpectedly strong opposition among U.S. House Republicans, though, the proposal tanked. Subsequent polls revealed that immigration policy wasn’t a strong concern for most Hispanic voters.
Republican operatives then decided to make an appeal to Hispanics by way of social issues. Seeing as most Hispanics are Roman Catholics, and their religion imposes draconian rules against abortion, it was thought that an aggressive “pro-life” pitch might finally bring them into the fold.
Last November, this notion was put to the test in Albuquerque, which has long been a power base for Americans of Mexican background.
Jeri Clausing of the Associated Press reported that “(i)n a closely watched, first-of-its kind municipal election, voters in New Mexico’s largest city have soundly defeated a ban on late-term abortions.
“Voters… rejected the measure 55 percent to 45 percent following an emotional and graphic campaign that brought in national groups and hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising. The campaign included protests that compared abortion to the Holocaust and displayed pictures of aborted fetuses.”
In other predominately Mexican-American areas, such as Greater San Antonio and Southern California, politicos who support abortion rights and fiscal leftism win with ease. Republicans who oppose abortion rights and champion financial conservatism, meanwhile, lose.
There is a clear trend here.
Like it or not, the antiabortion movement does not appeal to the Hispanic majority at polling places. The idea that because Hispanics are mostly Catholic, social rightism will follow is sheer nonsense.
Economic benefits appear the motivating factor in support of a candidate, not what some priest says from his pulpit.
So, what’s next for GOP Hispanic outreach? Aside from currying favor with small business owners, likely not much.
On thing is for certain, however: Antiabortion devotees will ignore their own unpopularity. How come? Simple: They never earnestly cared about Hispanic votes in the first place. Any claim to the contrary is an effort to save face. All they wanted was a new vehicle for eroding abortion rights.
By promoting the legislation they do, most anti-abortion rights crusaders believe that favor has been curried with the divine. This belief is so strong that, even in our growingly secular society, antiabortion activism remains a hallmark of right-wing politics.
During the years ahead, if Republicans wish to remain electorally viable, then bidding antiabortion zealots farewell is essential. Making sure another immigration amnesty program never sees the light of day is no less important.