United States Senator and prospective presidential also-ran Rand Paul warned Republicans today that until they get "beyond deportation," they will be ineffective at courting Hispanic voters. Politico reports:
“The bottom line is, the Hispanic community, the Latino community is not going to hear us until we get beyond that issue,” he said at a conservative event. His comments came immediately following a discussion on work visas, in the context of a broader address about reaching out to that community.
“They’re not going to care whether we go to the same church or have the same values or believe in the same kind of future of our country until we get beyond that. Showing up helps, but you got to show up and you got to say something, and it has to be different from what we’ve been saying.”
The only problem with Sen. Paul's plan? Hispanics aren't going to vote Republican anyhow. From The New York Times last September:
A new survey shows that Hispanics, the nation’s largest minority group, have grown increasingly negative toward the Republican Party during the political battle over changing immigration law and lean surprisingly liberal on social issues like gay marriage — a combination of factors that presents a steep challenge for Republicans in trying to win back Hispanic voters. (Emphasis mine.)
Ok, so Hispanic voters are not a lock for the G.O.P. on values. What about Paul's assertion of shared religious values between Republicans and Hispanics? From the same Times piece:
The religious identities of Hispanics are also changing, with 69 percent saying they grew up Catholic, but only 53 percent saying they identify as Catholic now. Those saying they are evangelical Protestants have increased by six percentage points to 13 percent. But Hispanics, like Americans as a whole, are increasingly claiming no religion at all: 7 percent of Hispanics say they were raised in a faith but now have no religious affiliation, bringing the total percentage of Hispanics with no religion to 12 percent. (Emphasis mine.)
No help there. What about the notion that Hispanic voters share the Republican vision for the future? About a year and a half ago, Ramesh Ponnuru over at National Review picked apart a previous conservative manifesto on courting Hispanics:
...[T]hey write that Republicans, once they overcome the impression of many Hispanics that the party is hostile to them, should "at a minimum" be able to win the support of those Hispanic voters who believe that government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals." The assumption here is that these voters would be Republican voters but for their impression that the party hates them. The analysis reports that 23 percent of Hispanics in Colorado voted for Romney, but 30 percent thought government does too many things; 25 percent of Hispanics in Nevada voted for Romney, but 35 percent thought government does too many things.
Does this gap represent easy pickings for the Republicans, that is, the "minimum" they can expect if they stop seeming anti-Hispanic? No. The exit polls show that Romney won only 74 percent of all Americans who think the government does too many things, with Obama winning 24 percent.
Most Hispanics, like an increasing number of Americans in general, want government to do "more." And not even all of those who feel otherwise vote G.O.P. This does not sound like a group who is simpatico with what Paul thinks the future of America should look like. Lest you get the idea that the picture is rosier for Republicans on a local level, that is not the case according to Governing. And even in Texas, Hispanics still lean Democratic according to Gallup, albeit slightly less so than in the rest of the country.
If the senator believes that immigration reform is of moral or economic good, he should make his strongest case. But he needs to stop promoting the foolish idea that Hispanic voters are a natural G.O.P. constituency.
Oh, and the dig on Paul as a future presidential also-ran? That's nothing personal. I am just increasingly glum about the prospects of victory in an age when voters seem to prefer a benevolent Santa Claus figure to a bunch of Grinches slinging personal responsibility.