The victory of Republican Mayra Flores in a historic Texas Democratic stronghold on Tuesday punctuates President Joe Biden’s problem with Hispanics. His woke agenda appears to be driving them into the arms of Republicans. Born in Mexico, Flores won the special election for the 34th Congressional District on a staunchly conservative platform of “God, family, and country” — a repudiation of Biden’s fixation on secularism, libertinism, and identity politics.
Her victory is no doubt setting off alarm bells in Democratic circles, but it can’t come as a complete surprise to the party’s strategists. Some of the shrewder ones have been fretting recently over the party’s alienation of Hispanics.
Liberals deluded themselves into seeing Hispanics as a permanent Democratic constituency.
“Clearly, this constituency does not harbor particularly radical views on the nature of American society and its supposed intrinsic racism and white supremacy,” wrote Democratic strategist Ruy Teixeria last December. “They are instead a patriotic, upwardly mobile, working class group with quite practical and down to earth concerns. Democrats will either learn to focus on that or they will continue to lose ground among this vital group of voters.”
That sums up the appeal of Flores. Openly patriotic, she poured scorn on Biden’s plans to transform the country fundamentally. Hispanics, she argued, want a traditional, not woke, America.
The party of critical race theory is paying a price for its complacency. It assumed that pandering to Black Lives Matter would appeal to all minorities. It doesn’t. To the Hispanics Flores represents, lectures about America as a product of white supremacy are boring and irrelevant. What worries them is not America’s past but its present. Biden’s policies are “destroying the country,” said Flores on the campaign trail. She noted that America under Biden is becoming as dysfunctional as the countries from which Hispanic immigrants fled.
Donald Trump got more Hispanic votes in 2020 than he did in 2016. Barack Obama attributed that to “a lot of evangelical Hispanics who, the fact that Trump says racist things about Mexicans, or puts undocumented workers in cages, they think that’s less important than the fact that he supports their views on gay marriage or abortion.” But the problem for the Democrats is broader than that, as the victory of Flores suggests. She poached from the Democrats Hispanic voters who not only support the GOP on social issues but also on issues related to the economy and border.
“Flores campaigned hard on her story as the wife of a U.S. Border Patrol agent and as a Mexican immigrant whose parents brought her to the United States as a young child,” reports the Texas Tribune. “In one of her TV ads, she said the Rio Grande Valley is ‘under attack’ at the border and promised not to let the ‘compadrismo’ — cronyism — ‘in Washington ruin our communities.’”
Liberals deluded themselves into seeing Hispanics as a permanent Democratic constituency. But the assumption that they would always favor open borders and a socialist welfare state is dissolving. Neither race wars nor class wars seem to interest them. The economy, jobs, and education rank higher on their list of concerns than the boutique causes of the left.
Even if Flores loses her seat in the next election due to Democratic gerrymandering, as is expected, her victory is still a notable bellwether. If a Trumpian Hispanic conservative can win in South Texas, where can’t the GOP pick up Hispanic votes?
For too long, obtuse country club Republicans kept Hispanic conservatives like Flores at a distance. But now it looks like the GOP is finally embracing them. It invested heavily in her race and has other Hispanic candidates running in the fall. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Hispanic voters are gravitating to the GOP not due to any politically correct pandering but due to the party’s contrast with the wokeness of the Democrats. To retain Hispanic voters, then, the GOP will have to resist the temptation to mirror Democratic policies. (Whether the GOP is capable of that resistance is doubtful, as evident in the Republican National Committee’s “Pride Month” tweets and the transgender propaganda now seen on Fox News.)
The lesson to be drawn from the shift in Hispanic voting is that the Democrats need to moderate their platform while the Republicans should preserve theirs. To scoop up Hispanic voters, all Republicans have to do is stand back as Joe Biden wars on religion, obliterates traditional morality, poisons education, and sabotages the economy. It is by accentuating the differences between the parties, not by narrowing them, that the GOP has the best chance of gaining a Hispanic majority. Given the choice between a woke America and a Judeo-Christian America, Hispanics choose the latter. The left’s culture war is as tiresome to them as its race and class ones.
The party of “gender fluidity” and multicultural condescension was bound to turn off Hispanics. By draping themselves in wokeness, by pushing anti-American propaganda, and by adopting the radicalism of Al Sharpton and company, the Democrats in effect prioritized the votes of blacks and white progressives over the votes of Hispanics. It is a choice the Democrats now may regret as they lose those votes to candidates like Mayra Flores.