Two weeks before the 2012 presidential election, President Barack Obama declared: “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, Obama could have picked any number of reasons why he would win the election, including the women’s vote, the auto bailout or because of his declared support for the middle class. Instead, he presciently identified the alienation of the Hispanic community as the foremost reason why Mitt Romney would lose the presidential election. Unfortunately for the Republican Party and the nation, Obama proved to be right and so was his aggressive outreach to Hispanics that garnered over 70% of their vote.
Republicans should learn from Obama’s declaration and Romney’s loss. Continuing to ignore what happened in that election, the Republican Party risks its long-term survival as an integral part of the two-party system that includes the indispensable political party that served this nation well since Abraham Lincoln aligned Republican Party interests with freeing the African slaves from bondage in America.
President George W. Bush understood the political demographic shift occurring today and rather than alienate the Hispanic vote, he pursued it with vigor. For example, Bush received 44% of the Hispanic vote during his last election, compared to Romney receiving only 28% of their vote in his election against Obama. Bush won the presidency twice, while Romney lost twice.
Had Romney won the support of 44% of the Hispanic voters, like Bush, he would have won the election against Obama. His failure to appeal to more Hispanic voters resulted in not only his loss of the presidency, it produced a faltering Republican Party that would eventually elect a president who would be impeached twice (once for the violent insurrection he provoked against the Capitol and the Constitution) and who would lose the presidency, the Senate and the House.
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. Looking back, 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 self-destruction.
Too many Republicans fail to recognize the strong, natural relationship that can and should exist between Hispanic cultural and religious values and the political values, until recently, held by Republicans. 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 and similar values, including their support for faith and family, protecting the life of the unborn, honoring traditional marriage, promoting small business job creation, 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, making them feel welcomed into their ranks.
Republican leaders should become much more effective communicating with Hispanic voters, understanding their interests, while demonstrating how the party can and should become a champion for them. Until that happens, Republicans will be left to represent the shrinking populous of white Christian nationalists, who insist the nation be maintained in their own image, even if it requires dishonesty and disruption to hold onto power.
In other words, if the Republican Party continues to snub Hispanic voters to satisfy its blinkered base, it does so at its own political peril and the disunion and eventual disintegration of the prized political system that has sustained the American republic for centuries.
Stuart C. Reid, is a Republican, a supporter of Sen. Mitt Romney and a former Utah state senator from Ogden.