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Dear Latinos: Don’t be Fooled by Republican Overtures
Latinos gave Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney a whopping 27% of their vote in the 2012 election. I am surprised that he got that many votes, considering all the racist anti-Latino legislation Republicans have pushed in recent years.
There is an attempt by Republican to stereotype Latino issues as “opposition to abortion and support for religion, entrepreneurship and traditional family values.” The prominently White Republican power structure hopes these issues are where they can make in-roads into the overwhelming advantage Democrats have with Latinos. Don’t believe it.
Republican support for the family amounts to a bunch of platitudes. A look at their legislative record highlights their true ideology. Republicans have passed or proposed cuts to family food programs, cuts to family planning and prenatal health care, cuts to children’s healthcare, cuts to Medicare for our grandparents, cuts to schools, cuts to food stamps that help poor families, and so forth. This directly contradicts the myth that Republicans support the family, and most Latinos know that.
Are Democrats really anti-religious? No. In one survey, only 1.5% of all members of the last Congress said they were non-monotheistic, non-believers or declined to state their religious beliefs. Both parties fall over themselves to demonstrate their faith. To support Republicans because they profess more faith is uninformed. Shouldn’t the test be how well we treat each other, not what we say is our religion?
The fact is that not all Latinos are strongly religious, and only 23% of Latinos are protestant Christian, like the core of the Republican base. Romney not only lost the White, non-hispanic Catholic vote by 1%, he lost the Latino Catholic vote by nearly 50%. Unless a miracle (apocalypse?) occurs and Latinos turn overwhelmingly evangelical in the next four years, an appeal to religion won't help Republicans win the Latino vote.
Moreover, Republicans are involved in more sex scandals than Democrats, or they get caught more often. Should the party that “supports religion” more be such philanderers? What about corruption in Washington, DC? According to The Hill, the newspaper of all things Congressional, Republicans are inundated with scandal. “Republicans’ abuses will end up helping to reduce the absolute power that has corrupted them.” If only that were true.
Certainly, Democrats are involved in corruption too, but they generally don’t call themselves the party of Christ, and don’t go forth passing laws to restrict voting rights for minorities and passing laws that allow the police to racially profile Latinos, laws like SB 1070 in Arizona. Just going to church or touting god in a speech is not enough. You must practice what you preach.
Democrats have a record of supporting entrepreneurs, but they also have a record of supporting workers, the majority of Americans. So while Republicans keep saying they are “job creators”, the fact is they have supported attacks on unions, teachers, and workers in general. These attacks include the passage of “right to work” laws that weaken unions and make it nearly impossible to increase union membership in states where these laws are on the books. Republicans have also attacked collective bargaining in Wisconsin and elsewhere. What Republicans have yet to learn is that Latinos are one group where unions are gaining members in recent years. Attacking workers will not get Latino support.
While the reasons (listed above) Republicans promote to garner Latino support are dubious at best, they have also pushed a lot of anti-union, anti-diversity and outright racist legislation. That alone should be enough to leave the party out of favor for a majority of Latinos for years to come.
The most powerful symbol of this legislative attack on Latinos is Arizona’s SB-1070. The law allows police in Arizona to “ask for papers” of those they pull over for routine traffic stops, and has been repeatedly used against citizens who happen to be brown, i.e. Latino. So, if you have a cracked windshield, usually a fix-it ticket, you can end up in a detention center if you are Latino or Chicano and don’t carry a copy or your birth certificate or other proof of legal status with you.
Another major legislative attack on Latinos and other immigrants are English only laws. Professor and author Warren Blumenfeld writes, “I argue that making English the official language in the United States or any state is about as necessary as establishing popcorn as the official snack at movie theaters.” These laws can be divisive and pit generations against on another. They stigmatize the 10 million legal immigrants who are still not proficient in English but can function well with “survival English” and with the help of their families and communities.
Republicans are also the main impediment to passage of the Dream Act. The Dream Act would provide a 6 year path to citizenship for those who were brought into the U.S. before their 16th birthday, have a high school diploma (or a GED) and be of “good moral standing.” That sounds exactly like the type of citizen we want. However, Republicans have blocked this reasonable path at every turn.
Voter ID laws were also passed by Republican controlled legislatures in the past few years and disenfranchised millions of Latino citizens. Not only do Republicans pass laws that discriminate, they want to take away Latino votes. I guess they feel if you can’t beat ‘em, cheat ‘em. And now, after passing all these discriminatory laws, Republicans are trying to make Latinos believe they care.
According to Mother Jones magazine, there have been 164 anti-immigration laws passed since 2010, mainly targeted at Mexicans and passed by Republican state legislatures. “Just how wide-ranging has the recent anti-immigration push been? Only seven states (Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) failed to pass anti-immigration laws in 2010 and 2011.
The Republican party is in a bind. The choice is to soften their stance on immigration (and minorities in general), pander, and hide their true ideology to gain Latino votes, or the party could stop pretending and show their true anti-immigrant, anti-diversity, mostly White face. Many in the Tea Party wing of the party want the GOP to stay the course:
Katrina Pierson, a political activist and member of the Dallas Tea Party, said many of the rank-and-file Republicans want to see less pandering to an ethnic group and more work to pass strict immigration laws in Texas, laws like the one in Arizona that requires police officers to check the immigration status of people they think might be in the country illegally.
“It’s one thing to be inclusive,” Pierson said. “But it is another thing to abandon your principles.”
Let’s hope Republicans remain entrenched and disappear like the Dodo while the country becomes more diverse and Whites become the minority in the coming years.