What next: Will the GOP finally reach out to Latinos?

Tony Blankley writes an interesting reflection on the Presidential election. The key passage:

But as a national cause championed by a national party, a conservative agenda must, for example, learn to speak persuasively to a near majority of Hispanic-Americans, or we will be merely a debating society. When Texas joins states such as Colorado, New Mexico (and even North Carolina, Virginia, Arizona and Florida), where Hispanic votes are necessary for victory, there is no possibility of national governance without finding that voice.

I hope he is right and I hope Latinos will respond. Reagan and Bush II were able to see the large demographic shifts occurring in our country before Clinton, Gore and Kerry were. The GOP’s image problem with Hispanics is a result of several factors that I will list here briefly, and will expand upon later.

  1. Institutional integration: Latinos, as a percent, make up a disproportionately smaller group of leaders in the GOP than they do voters. The party needs to implement party policies with regard to recruitment and retention to change this.
  2. Outreach: Bush and McCain in previous elections demonstrated that if you build it they will come. Latinos respond well to outreach efforts meant to earn their vote. This includes outreach efforts in the schools. There are very few Latino clubs centered around conservatism or capitalism. Programs need to be set up to help create these or assist other clubs to recruit Latinos into existing clubs.
  3. Policies: Latinos desire programs that will help them navigate through the pitfalls of our modern economy. Programs in education, small business development, healthcare, and home loans. This is not to say that Latinos want handouts. Much of this has to do with demonstrating empathy.
  4. Tonal: The GOP brand is very damaged in the eyes of Latinos largely because of the immigration debate. Latinos will support measures to secure the border (see Napolitano in Arizona) if they trust that the policy is more about security and economics than culture. Treating entrepreneurs who cross the dangers desert borders seeking a better life as felons is disrespectful and does nothing to actually secure our borders. Mexican-Americans are as fed up with drug-warfare on the border and beyond as anyone. Focusing efforts on violent offenders and not lumping job seekers into this category of people would be a good start.
  5. Ideological: Hispanics are quite comfortable with conservative values, but they cannot be seen as a vehicle used for promoting cultural purity by the likes of Tancredo and Buchanan. Cloaking cultural purists in the language of preserving American values against Hispanics suggests that Latino values are incompatible with American values. Not only is it false, but it ignores history and the willful integration of past migrant groups into the mainstream.
  6. Educational: The GOP must demonstrate a willingness to understand the problems and issues that mean most to Latinos and they must also work to integrate Latinos into the general American culture. This does not mean enforcing or demanding english-only laws, but helping with night classes to help Latinos learn the language.
  7. Organizations: Latinos have a set of great organizations that need nurturing and assistance with helping Latinos improve their positions in life. Groups like NALEO, MALDEF, NCLR, etc. all work in various ways to help Latinos navigate American society. A greater effort to assist these groups will go a long way in creating the beginnings of a Republican society.
  8. New organizations: The GOP needs a way to mine the talent out there for future leaders. This will require a long-term effort at cultivating talent from the colleges and business world. There needs to be greater recruitmet of Latinos into businesses, the sciences, etc.
  9. Think tanks: Think tanks like Heritage Foundation, Reason, etc. need to come up with ways to study the potential avenues of commonality that can be used to create connections between Latinos and conservatives/capitalists. This will require a great effort in seeking out talent within the Latino community and even abroad to Mexico, Latina America, etc.
  10. Political: The gop needs to realize that Cubans aren’t the only Latinos out there and that Cubans are not interchangeable with Latino groups in other parts of the country. Greater attention needs to be paid at the local context of the Latino community. Parachuting in a Cuban into a Latino community in Los Angeles is unhelpful and works only to confirm that the GOP’s view of the Latino community is only superficial.

I hope to add and expand on these initial thoughts later, but I think this election has created an opportunity for a resurgence in conservative and capitalist thought, and an opportunity to reach out to new segments of our country’s changing population.


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