It's time for Republicans to address Hispanic voters on the subject of illegal immigration in a new, more respectful manner than the mutually degrading approach employed during the Bush-McCain years.
To understand why, consider the data from the latest Pew Hispanic survey of Latino voters—along with the amusingly Pavlovian response of the Main Stream Media.
The Republican Brain Trust has long been petrified by the brand of logic relentlessly propounded by career Hispanic activists, Democrats, and the MSM:
If Hispanic voters will make up a dominant fraction of the electorate Real Soon Now
And if Hispanic voters are fanatical backers of more illegal immigration…
Then, the GOP must preemptively surrender and put illegal aliens on the road to citizenship and voting (or, at least, never mention opposition to illegal immigration).
Curiously, evidence for these two Big Ifs has never been abundant. For example, while it has proven very difficult for the GOP to get Hispanics to vote Republican, it has simultaneously proven fairly difficult for the Democrats to get them to vote at all.
The headline of the Washington Post's October 5, 2010 article by Nia-Malika Henderson and Krissah Thompson accurately sums up the Pew poll: Latino voters support Democrats but may not vote for them, poll reports.
"There is good news and bad news for Democrats in a new poll ahead of the 2010 elections - Latinos support the party, but about half of those questioned say they might not show up at the polls on Nov. 2."
Actually, the Pew findings were even worse for the Democrats than that summary suggests. Of 1,375 Hispanic adults interviewed, only 44 percent claimed to be registered voters. And only about half of those said they were certain to vote.
And Republican Latinos, while rather thin on the ground, are more fired up to vote in November than are Democratic Latinos. (Similarly, five-eighths of registered Hispanic voters are American-born, and native Hispanics are more in the mood to vote in 2010.)
So the distinction I've been pointing out since 2001 remains valid: mass immigration is bad for the Republicans in the long run—but there's still plenty of time to do something about it without being immediately demolished in reprisal.
Moreover, remember all that stuff you read about how Arizona's SB1070 was going to doom Republicans in November by awakening the Sleeping Giant of Hispanic Racial Wrath?
Well, not for the first time, immigration turns out to be a less than burning issue for Hispanic voters. Out of the seven issues the Pew Hispanic Center asked registered Latinos to rate in personal importance, immigration came in only fifth, barely ahead of … the environment!
That Hispanics tend toward apathy over voting and ambivalence over illegal immigration shouldn't surprise anybody who has followed polling and election results in this millennium. (For example, here's my October 13, 2002 VDARE.COM article analyzing the Pew Hispanic Center survey of eight years ago.)
Yet the data always come as a shock to reporters because their sources keep telling them the contrary.
For example, Henderson and Thompson's Washington Post article is a typical case of Rolodex Reporting on Autopilot. They begin their article with the actual news from the Pew poll about the 2010 decline in Hispanic electoral significance. Then they transition blithely to self-professed Hispanic leaders repeating the same old unchallenged talking points about how important they are:
"'We are getting to the point in American politics where, in all 50 states, the Latino vote is a determining factor, especially in close races,' said Fernand Amandi, [email him], a managing partner in Bendixen & Amandi, a Miami-based strategy firm."
"'There is a lot of enthusiasm, but also anger over immigration that has carried over from Arizona to California,' said Arturo Vargas, [Email him] executive director of National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. 'Voters are upset that people are exploiting the issue of immigration without resolving it.'"
"'Historically in Colorado the Latino demographic has become a real powerhouse when it comes to [voter] mobilization,' said Maria Teresa Kumar, [Email her] executive director of Voto Latino."
This time around, the Pew Hispanic Center didn't bother asking Hispanic voters whether they were for or against mass immigration. But when Pew inquired back in 2002, the results were highly illuminating.
Of course, how questions are phrased greatly affects the responses. The first chart on p. 38 of the 2002 report showed the opinion of Latino registered voters about the number of immigrants in the U.S. today. No less than 48 percent felt there were too many immigrants—versus only seven percent who said there were too few.
When you think about it from the point of view of the typical American-born or naturalized Latino, this reality—that Hispanic voters generally lean toward immigration restriction—is hardly surprising.
Is the vast influx of recent immigrants making life better for the average Latino and his family?
Definitely better—if he's a Hispanic politician or activist. Maybe— if he's, say, a bilingual foreman managing a crew of illegal aliens.
But absolutely not if he's a worker. Massive numbers of immigrants pounding down his wages and driving up his cost of living aren't doing his or his kids' standard of living much good.
The second chart, however, showed the effect of reminding Hispanic voters that, in modern day America, they, being a minority, are supposed to be racialist:
"Thinking about Latin American immigrants who come to work in the United States, percent who think that the U.S. should…"
When prodded to think about Latin Americans, the "Allow more" figure jumped to 36 percent, while the "Reduce the number" share fell to 21 percent. (Of course, even that was still not up to the level of extremism on immigration that the MSM demands from Hispanic voters.)
The MSM has assiduously attempted to cultivate ethnic anger among Hispanics. Thus on October 6, 2010, the Washington Post''s Krissah Thompson was back in with a follow-up to her Pew summary, Will Arizona's immigration law motivate Latino voters?
She sympathetically pounded the drums for her contacts' attempts to promote racial rage:
"Groups that have been working to increase turnout among Hispanic voters are pondering this question: Are they mad enough? Polls predict low turnout among Latinos in November, but Hispanic civil rights and civic participation organizations are hoping outrage over 'anti-immigrant' rhetoric and the uptick in laws targeting illegal immigrants will counter apathy in the electorate."
NNotice how she implicitly condemns anger among immigration restrictionists but approves of it among immigration enthusiasts? That's becoming the MSM template.
Another case: In the Senate race in Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid should have a cakewalk because he brings home billions in pork. Yet having bet that rewarding illegal aliens with his failed DREAM Act would pay off with support from legal Hispanics, Reid is currently sweating. Turnout of Hispanics at Issue: Democrats hope level of participation equals election two years ago reported Laura Myers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal on October 7, 2010:
"Hispanics, who make up 26 percent of the Nevada population and 12 percent of its 1 million registered voters, could make the difference between the four-term senator's victory or defeat on Nov. 2. 'We got our job cut out for us,' acknowledged Fernando Romero, a Democrat and leader of Hispanics in Politics …"
In contrast, Republican outsider Sharron Angle has driven Washington wild with anger by running TV spots pointing out Reid's pandering to illegal aliens. Of course, it's unwise to count out Washington's ultimate insider, but Angle seems currently to be ahead by 2 to 4 points and Politico has just reported (October 8) Sharron Angle surge unnerving Nevada Democrats —perhaps because, crazy as it may sound, it's actually a smarter political strategy to appeal to voters than to nonvoters. Ask Cruz Bustamante, wherever he is now.
This doesn't mean that the MSM's long campaign to elicit Hispanic racial anger will never pay off. In Latin America, talented demagogues such as Hugo Chavez of Venezuela do periodically appear.
And, needless to say, it's not clear that the MSM actually would like what it has tried so hard to conjure up. Judging from the hilarious Rick Sanchez imbroglio, in which the blowhard CNN anchorman from Cuba was instantly fired after scoffing at the suggestion that Jews are an oppressed minority "as much as you are", press elites haven't fully thought through this whole Hispanic victimism ideology.
My conclusion: After a Bush-blighted decade, it's time for Republican candidates to address Hispanic voters directly over illegal immigration.
As a general rule, human beings respond more constructively to being challenged than to being pandered to. Hence, GOP candidates should forthrightly ask for the support of Hispanic voters in opposing illegal immigration.
"My Democrat opponent expects you to vote for him because he assumes that on the issue of illegal immigration, you vote as Mexicans, as Salvadorans, as Colombians, or so forth. In contrast, I expect you to vote as patriotic American citizens because more illegal immigration is bad for American citizens. As President Kennedy said: 'And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.'"
Would this work? Would appealing to Hispanic voters as patriotic Americans rather than as entitled ethnics convert some to voting Republican?
But how could it be worse than the Rove rout?
More importantly, a straightforward appeal to Hispanic patriotism would subvert the MSM's dominant trope that being against illegal immigration is somehow shameful.
Instead, shame the illegal immigration profiteers—by daring the patriots among their putative followers to join the overwhelming majority of their fellow Americans.
[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog. His new book, AMERICA'S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA'S "STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is available here.]