An article in the Lubbock Avalanche Journal (by Enrique Rangel) caught my eye this weekend. It talked about the need for the Republican party to embrace minorities, and featured in the article was a complaining (again) Aaron Pena.
The article takes us back to Texas Monthly’s cover photo featuring Wendy Davis and the Castro brothers, which earned the Castros the insult of “wetback” from a bigot, to which Mayor Castro responded. Apparently, so did Aaron Pena.
So, Peña spoke up as loudly as he could.
“As conservatives grounded in principles of decency and respect for all people, it is our responsibility to openly denounce these sorts of demeaning statements,” he wrote in a letter to the editor published in the San Antonio Express-News.
“Our state is changing in many ways, demographically and otherwise,” Peña added. “If we are to move forward cohesively and productively as the great state we are, we must put these ugly vestiges of our past behind us.”
Given Republican attacks on women and the state budget, I’m haven’t seen the “decency and respect,” but as the immigration debate moves forward, it seems the vitriol is getting worse, thanks to Republican Steve King of Iowa and his “canteloupe” comments about DREAMers. Needless to say, it is even upsetting Republicans like Pena.
Over the years, King has also compared immigrants to dogs and proposed an electrified fence along the border with Mexico.
Back in Texas, Dallas tea party leader Ken Emanuelson said recently Republicans don’t want blacks to vote because they overwhelmingly support Democrats.
“Our party doesn’t need those people and we should denounce them as strongly as we can when they make or post those ugly comments,” Peña said.
Even another Republican Latino had something to say.
“The problem is that those at the top, the leaders, don’t know how to deal with these people (the bigots),” said former Rep. Raul Torres of Corpus Christi.
“They have failed us miserably, hoping the problem will go away.” Torres said of GOP leaders who say little or nothing when a racist remark triggers a public uproar.
Hell, although not racist in nature, but more “chicken-shittedness,” I had my issues with the Democrats who listened to a consultant who told them back in 2005 that the immigration issue would just go away and not to engage Republicans on it. That said, not much has changed, other than some cosmetic engagement and, now, a complete giveaway of the store (border militarization) during the negotiation over immigration reform to appease the Republicans–which has failed.
Bottom line, it will take a lot more than simply “being nice” to turn Latinos “red,” in vote and not in anger. Republican stances on education (K-12 and College), Obamacare, and jobs/economy are not very well liked by Latinos according to the latest Latino Decisions polling.
Much like it is said that Latinos are not monolithic (although Obama’s 71% in 2012 says much), they are also not a one-issue group of people, unless Republicans go negative on immigration (which then turns into anti-Latino rhetoric).
I had a relatively short conversation with a Republican Latina who attended the Gus Garcia Day celebration this weekend who tells me she is going to file to take on John Cornyn for U.S. Senate because of his stances on immigration. Other than telling her she faces a lonely road in the GOTea primary, since Latinos stay away from that primary a lot more often than from the Dem primary, it was difficult not to smirk. “Bless her heart,” I thought, but I reminded her of the fact that Latinos are not a one-issue people, and Republican primary voters are certainly not what you would call pro-Latino or pro-immigrant, given the kind of stuff they come up with at their conventions.
Nonetheless, a run by her may be what it takes to convince Republicans to let go of the new-Jim Crow attitude they are portraying with their immigration stances, voter ID, etc. But she would still be a Latina Republican left to defend and convince Latinos on draconian budget cuts and everything else the GOP is trying to dismantle.
In other words, the name-calling is just one part of the reason Republicans aren’t earning the Latino vote.