GOP and Hispanics
Two weeks before the presidential election, President Obama was quoted as saying: "Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community."
From his perspective, President Obama could have named any number of reasons why he would win the election, including the women's vote, the auto bailout, or because of his support for the middle class. Instead, he presciently identified the alienation of the Hispanic community as the foremost reason why Gov. Mitt Romney would lose the election.
Unfortunately for Republicans, he proved to be right and so was his aggressive outreach to the Hispanics that garnered over 70 percent of their vote.
Republicans should learn from Obama's declaration and Romney's loss. Ignoring what happened in this year's election, the Republican Party risks its long-term survival as an integral part of the two-party system a political party that has served this nation well since Abraham Lincoln aligned Republican interests to free the African slaves from bondage in America.
President George W. Bush understood the political, demographic shift that is occurring in our day, and rather than alienate the Hispanic vote, he pursued it with vigor. For example, President Bush received 44 percent of the Hispanic vote during his last election, compared to Romney receiving only 28 percent of that vote in his election. President Bush won the presidency twice, while Romney tried twice but lost both times. Had Romney won the support of just 44 percent of the Hispanic voters, he would be the next president of the United States.
Among other policies, Romney's stated policy to force "self-deportation" and his rejection of the "Dream Act" sealed his fate with Hispanic voters and ended his chance to win the presidency. Both outcomes are unfortunate for him, the Republican Party and the nation. The alienation of the fastest growing demographic in the country has proven to be political malpractice, if not suicide.
Too many Republicans fail to recognize the strong, natural relationship that can and should exist among Hispanic, cultural and religious values and Republican, political values. The failure to see what should be, has left most minority groups but especially Hispanics feeling rejected by Republicans, when they should feel embraced.
The majority of Hispanics and Republicans hold common interests, including their support for faith and family; protecting the life of the unborn; honoring traditional marriage; promoting jobs, self-reliance and hard work; seeking effective educational opportunities and prosperity for the rising generations; and defending liberties, especially religious liberties.
These areas of common interests and values should be reason enough for Republicans to reach out to the Hispanic community and make them feel welcomed into their ranks.
Republican leaders should become much more effective communicating both within and outside the party about Hispanic interests and how the party can and should become a champion for them. Until that happens, Republicans will continue to lose critical elections, ultimately left to represent only white males, which will soon be the least important minority group.
In short, if the GOP continues to ignore Hispanic voters, it does so at its own peril.
Stuart C. Reid is a Republican Utah state senator representing District 18.
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