Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hispanics/Latinos Won

It's a great night for Latinos and Hispanics. This was their victory as well as Obama's.

It will be a very long time before we see another mainstream national candidate scorn this segment. And Republicans will trip over themselves to work with the president to pass immigration reform this term. Spanish-speaking voters can consider themselves, from this day forward, Ohio.

It wasn't the shameless flip-flopping that cost Romney the election. It wasn't the 47% comment. What lost Romney the presidency was his anachronistically hard-assed stance on immigration - specifically, his "self-deportation" meme. Hispanics and Latinos are not just an up-and-coming population. They've already upped and come. They are our demographic future, and the Republican party committed the political blunder of the century by ignoring this.

It was especially dumb considering that the Mexican-Americans and, uh, Central American-Americans who are a large part of this population tend to be hardworking, pious, family-values, law-and-order, don't-tread-on-me squares. They are natural-born Republicans. All they needed was for the party to embrace them.

George W Bush understood this very well, and the party of his era made it a top priority to reach out to that community. But today's Republicans, utterly infatuated with - and terrorized by - the Tea Party, let that drop. The 2010 midterms frightened them into abandoning all other constituencies. So during debate after primary debate, Republican candidates outdid each other with tough talk on immigration, hoping to score points with their base of immigrant-hating blue collar whites. And Romney tacked right of every one of them, cavalierly suggesting that undocumented immigrants simply "self-deport" (and then declined to shake the Etch-A-Sketch).

That base knows its primacy is over. They understand, and fear, that "the minorities" are on the brink of becoming the majority. And Republicans short-sightedly deemed this a leverage point. Unable to resist an opportunity to stoke fear, they sided with the shrinkers. So immigrants gave Obama Virginia, Nevada, Iowa, and more. And he didn't even have to work for it. At Romney's urging, they self-deported right into the Democratic Party.

Republicans will pivot, fast and hard. They can't win a national election until they fix this. So, congratulations, Spanish-speakers (and, also, Asians). You are now personas muy, muy "grata".

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