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Does He Risk Losing the Latinos?

Dolan, not Romney, that is. This piece by Thomas Edsall is well worth a read. He argues:

Most importantly, the Pew surveys show that 89% of voters who identify themselves as Republican are white. Faced with few if any possibilities of making gains among blacks and Hispanics whose support for Obama has remained strong the Romney campaign has no other choice if the goal is to win but to adopt a strategy to drive up white turnout.The Romney campaign is willing to disregard criticism concerning accuracy and veracity in favor of "blowing the dog whistle of racism resorting to a campaign appealing to racial symbols, images and issues in its bid to break the frustratingly persistentObama lead in the polls, which has lasted for the past 10 months.

The Republican party's reliance on racial dog whistles is nothing new in our politics, obviously. But the position of Latinos within the Republican racial imagination is still more of a work in progress. Since 2010, Republicans seem to have moved decisively against George W. Bush's admirable efforts to reach out to Latino voters. With Latinos set to deny their votes to the "go deport yourself" Republicans in historic numbers, Bush's 40% support among Latinos seems like a distant memory. I wonder whether the leader of the American bishops has considered the possibility that cozying up so tightly to an increasingly anti-Latino Republican party is unwise (church) politics.Although the social conservatism of Latinos is a little overstated, the diversity of the Latino communities would normally make it a little surprising to see them rejecting Romney in such overwhelming numbers. But the "Arizonafication" of the GOP, as Jeff Biggers dubbed it on the Huffington Post, is a dealbreaker even for otherwise conservative Latinos. It is hard to exaggerate the significance for Latinos of the hateful nativist rhetoric (and the hateful kinds of people) associated with the self-deportation movement that the Republican party has chosen to embrace. And when Mitt Romney jokes about no one askingto see his birth certificate, the irony is not lost on Latinos in Alabama and Arizona and elsewhere who have had to produce birth certificates to send their kids to school or who have had to worry about venturing to the grocery store without their "papers."Latinos have been very faithful Catholics, but I suspect that -- unless the GOP radically revises its approach to racial politics -- the integration of the Catholic hierarchy with the national GOP will cause no small number of Latino Catholics to wonder about their place in the U.S. Catholic Church. [To be perfectly clear, I'm not suggesting Latinos will run for the exits immediately. But an increasingly tight association between the Catholic hierarchy and the GOP will, absent some shift in the GOP's current stance toward Latinos, have a tendency over time to alienate Latino Catholics from the church. If the native-born Catholic hierarchy had made common cause with nativists in the late 19th century, what would the impact have been on Irish and Italian Catholics' relationship to the American church? Of course, 19th century nativism was linked with anti-Catholicism, so the analogy does not really work, but you get the point.]

About the Author

Eduardo Moisés Peñalver is the Allan R. Tessler Dean of the Cornell Law School. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the subjects of property and land use law.



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Eduardo - I couldn't agree more. This would be a wonderful topic for Cardinal Dolan to work into his benediction this week. Just as I argue that liberal Catholics need to call the Democratic Party to account on liberal policies that contravene church teaching, it falls to conservative Catholics to do the same for the GOP.

@Jim Pauwels (8/27, 3:51 pm) Good point. Given that Cardinal Dolan speaks at least some Spanish (well enough to celebrate Mass), perhaps he could take a page from his own sermon when he became archbishop of New York---deliver a significant part of the prayer in Spanish? (

"If the native-born Catholic hierarchy had made common cause with nativists in the late 19th century, what would the impact have been on Irish and Italian Catholics' relationship to the American church? Of course, 19th century nativism was linked with anti-Catholicism, so the analogy does not really work, but you get the point.]"I sure do get the point. Shame on the Irish and Italians who show "of what spirit they are" when they have little sympathy for Latinos. Unfortunately the movement towards the Republican party is a human nature thing whereby people associate being Republican with having made it. Even many Hispanics who are doing well tend to gravitate toward the Republican party. It is the desire to be among the privileged and escaping being stereotyped. There has always been blacks who seek to disassociate themselves from their roots. All in all it is minimizing the gospel while climbing the social ladder. Like the hierarchy does. Go right to one issue while bashing gays and women while claiming to be for them. With upward mobility comes the delusion that we made it on our own while the downtrodden deserve their misfortune. Everybody makes it except the gospel.

I think that the very successful encroachment of Pentecostals into virtually unchurched Latinos and Hispanics has done more to extract them from this church than ANYTHING that Dolan or any other ecclesiastic can do. Come to think about it, a failure in ecclesiastical creativity on how to minister to Latinos and Hispanics in so many of their home countries because of adhering to counter-productive ideas on married and male-only priests has a long history of imposing a large element of risk on the future of Catholicism in those countries.Thank you, bishops and fellow travelers all the way up and down the food chain.

More downright rejection than lack of creativity. Latinos, by and large, coming to this country attempted to attend Catholic churches only to find rejection. After that they found friendly Pentecostals and other welcoming churches. Actually Cardinal Spellman of New York had the most foresight to train priests and nuns for the Latino Apostolate. So much so that clergy and religious came to New York to learn how to cater to that apostolate. Chicago lagged behind. Even rejected a million dollar (a lot of money at that time) offer from Andrew Greeley to build Hispanic parochial schools.

Why Obama should appeal to a large majority of US Latinos after the way he's treated them is beyond me. Are you sure they do? I'm not.

Shame on the Irish and Italians who show of what spirit they are when they have little sympathy for Latinos.Bill Mazzella: What the Irish and Italians have little sympathy for are, among other things, People who violate our immigration laws to gain entry, then whine about how racist America is, demand (and sometimes get) in-state tuition unavailable to American citizens (as in California), complain that traffic stops for DUI drivers are racist (as in California)... you get the idea.Legal immigrants from Mexico, Central America, South America, and China are the pride and joy of this nation. If they choose to take the side of illegal immigrants in political issues, that's their prerogative, but they are being very foolish if the do, and they will reap what they sow. And it won't be johnny jump-ups.

@Bob Schwartz (8/28, 2:30 am) The Irish and Germans who came in the mid-19th century came at a time when there was effectively no such thing as "illegal immigration" for "free white persons". Racist immigration laws directed at Asians started in the 1880s, and starting in the 1920s applied more broadly---with about 80% of legal immigration slots reserved for Northern Europeans (Italians, Jews and Slavs being, among others, "inferior races").'m curious: what do you have in mind when you state that if Latino and Chinese legal immigrants "choose to take the side of illegal immigrants in political issues...they will reap what they sow. And it won't be johnny jump-ups"?

Bob, you've just made Bill's point. Of course my great grandfather's ship was turned away at New York harbor and every port north, until it staggered into a Canadian harbor. He crawled over the border and got to NYC in time to be a Civil War conscript. I guess that made him a "greenback." Oh, and exactly what is the process for a farmworker, roofer or cook to "get in line" and emigrate "legally?" So far as I'm aware, there pretty much isn't one. So, like my forbears, they can starve in the old country or take their chances with deportation here. "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in," unless, of course, I didn't have papers.

The Republican partys reliance on racial dog whistles is nothing newNow that is rich, especially considering that it is the Democrats who routinely crucify any black politician or notable who dares stray from the Liberal plantation. I cannot even count the racist cartoons etc. of Condolezza Rice when she was in the Bush administration, not to mention the routine racism to which other black Republicans are subject by the Left.As for the Latinos-Republicans relation, while it is probably true that (sadly) some Repubs have a too-narrow view on indocumentados, and that the Church should speak out more on the treatment of immigrants (all immigrants by the way; not just Mexicans), nonetheless, Republicans will get the votes of Latinos who vote on cultural issues like abortion and traditional marriage.And of course, Mary Kennedy (post just above) is exactly correct in noting that Christ himself specifically mentioned the treatment of travellers and strangers; He did so for a reason. I like how Chesterton was quipped (paraphrased) that; If we make the camel as small as possible, and make the needle as large as possible; if we take the words of Christ to mean in this instance the least they could possibly mean, the least He must have meant is that a rich man is not morally trustworthy. While Chesterton is humorous, this is a good technique that helps clarify things. Now, if we apply this sort of technique to Christs comments in Matthew (or indeed in other books like Romans and Job), it seems the least we should all do is calm down about how Mexican indocumentados, and realize they are real people, not just numbers, not just 'problems'.

As a strategic/demographic matter, since most Latinos are Catholic, granting permanent residence status to non-problematic Latino indocumentados (i.e., those who are not criminals) should be a no-brainer. At least we should consider this remedy for Mexican indocumentados; they are Catholics, and our next-door neighbors after all.If the USCCB had more of a backbone, it would ram this point home and simply tell anti-immigrant Catholics they are wrong and they need to figure out how to adjust their views/policies to accommodate the Church on this issue. By way of information; those with permanent residence status can live and work here indefinitely etc., but cannot vote. Hopefully this recent HHS ordeal with give the bishops strength enough to engage narrow minded Catholics on immigration.

Luke:Johnny Jump-ups are lovely flowers, otherwise known as Violas, with 1-inch blossoms of deep purple, yellow and white. What the illegals will reap instead is more chaos, more resentment, more grief. Incidentally, I believe that any employer who hires illegal immigrants receive a minimum fine of $10,000; on a second offence, mandatory prison sentence of 1 year.Mary:You said For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, unless, of course, I didnt have papers.I believe you are confusing personal charity with government policy. An employer may make huge charitable contributions to alleviate the suffering of refugees from economic Hell-holes, but he may not violate the law. And if the laws governing legalization are not to your liking, there is a process: You know, the political process?Ken: You said Christ himself specifically mentioned the treatment of travellers and strangers;Although that is a necessary condition, it is not a sufficient condition. What does our treatment of strangers have to do with the treatment of lawbreakers?

Democrats, as in this post, frequently warn about the racial dog-whistles that they detect in Republican messages. They should also be wary of architectural dog-whistles. It seems that the ever crafty GOP has adopted for their convention sets identifiable elements of Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture. As insiders know, Wright served as the basis for one of the characters in the novels of Ayn Rand. Thus the unwary can easily fall into a Rand trance. Caveat spectator.

@Bob Schwartz (8/28, 2:01 pm) Thanks for the clarification.

But he built so many churches, Patrick.

Patrick Are you really saying you think even the dcor is racist, or are you simply joking?I do not understand.

Ken - I was joking. I don't have much confidence in the ability of those, e.g., Chris Mathews, who detect dog-whistles.

Btw, this Clarence Page column might be of interest - it reflects on a recent NBC News / Wall Street Journal Poll that shows that Mitt Romney currently receives, not 10%, not 5%, not 2%, but 0% support among African Americans.

@Jim Pauwels (8/28, 5:22 pm) Alas, Page's column is behind the Trib's paywall. If you wouldn't mind quoting a few key lines, that would be great.

It would be interesting to see the economic demographics of the 10% of African-Americans who support Romney. I'll speculate that they are closer to the financially top 10% of the AA population than the rest of the 90%.

I hit the button before I finished.I know that there are LGBT Republicans, too. Economic self-interest is a strong motiving factor to sell your soul.

My apologies, Luke and all. Try this link - the entire column came up for me here:

No, Bob Schwartz, I wasn't confused at all. Where is it written that we should compartmentalize our lives so that our "private charity" in some way is permitted to be opposite of that which we urge as public policy? And while your "employer" pivot was slick, this thread was discussing the treatment of immigrant populations by the Church, and not the laws regarding status verification by employers. Finally, you ask Ken "What does our treatment of strangers have to do with the treatment of lawbreakers?" Well, if those populations are, in your mind, co-terminus, then everything. Christ's injunction makes no distinction based on one's status vis a vis the law. I grew up profoundly fortunate compared to most of the rest of the world. I owe that good fortune largely to the work of Archbishop Hughes in making the Church a welcoming and nurturing institution for my immigrant forbears. I can't think of any reason that that standard should have changed.

Mary:My "employer" pivot? What does that mean? I simply wanted to make it clear that the *******'s that screw up the entire system by hiring illegals, undercutting the wages of citizens and legal aliens, are also responsible for the current mess.

Thanks, Jim, for is not saying that Romney has zero percent support among African Americans, just that it may be below four percent. That's sad, but group appeal is strong. How many Catholics voted for Kennedy largely because he was Catholic? (Of course, that was then.)Even the Republicans seem to be giving up on Romney. Odd.Interesting that Page sees Ryan as a positive for African Americans, someone who could have the appeal Jack Kemp did.

@Jim Pauwels (8/28, 6:59 pm) No need for apologies. Thank-you for the new link.@David Smith (8/28, 9:52 pm) I don't take Page's point as "group appeal is strong" and that's why Mitt Romney's polling support from African-American voters is in the low single digits (plus or minus 3-5%).Quite the opposite. I take Page's point as being that the Republican Party has, since the early 1960s, made a concerted (and largely successful) effort to represent the interests and attract the votes of white citizens who, when you come right down to it, prefer segregation and unequal preferences for whites to integration and the dismantling of Jim Crow. Black citizens have recognized that, and that's why Democrats regularly secure 90% or more of the African-American vote in national elections.

"white citizens who, when you come right down to it, prefer segregation and unequal preferences for whites to integration and the dismantling of Jim Crow. "Luke, I don't think it's true that white people, neither in general nor those who belong to the GOP, prefer segregation and Jim Crow.

The parties should not be divided along racial lines, and I do not think the GOP goes out of its way to play racial-group politics. Republicans favor business and traditional values like no abortion and no gay marriage. Democrats do prefer group-identity politics and it shows. Their threadbare approach is to use blacks and women as window dressing and behind that the MO basically is; which group gives us the most money?If unions did not pay the DNC tons of money, the DNC would not give Labor the time of day. When it came down to what was a more pressing matter, gays in the military or helping young indocumentados via the Dream Act, President Obama sided with allowing gays in the military. Why? Because the gay lobby gives far more money to the DNC than Mexicans do. What did the indocumentados get? They got a half-baked, sort-of-late, temporary two-year reprieve via executive order that can be overturn anytime, along with pander-blather lathered across the top. In effect with his E-order, Obama (really the Democrats) are dangling indocumentados on a string, implying that they (the Dems) hold the indocumentados future in their hands so Jose and Juan had better tow the party line.Comprende?And so what else is new?

That one really hit me. As far as the Democrats cynical view is concerned, one more young Mexican stuck in his own private family tragedy/drama with no way out and no hope, doomed to a life of hard work at low pay, constant worry, few reasonable options, and maybe in the end, doomed to lose everything he owns and be sent unceremoniously to Tijuana to finish his days in abject poverty and despair, that is really is nothing compared to an American gay man who wants to join the military and keep a boyfriend.Ugh -

@Jim Pauwels (8/29, 12:23 pm) Thanks for your reply. Also, my apologies for my lack of clarity. I did not mean to convey the impression that I thought most white citizens, or most Republicans, "prefer segregation and unequal preferences for whites to integration and the dismantling of Jim Crow".I was trying to say that the Republican Party has, over the last 50 years, made a conscious and largely successful effort to attract the support of that minority of white citizens who "prefer segregation and unequal preferences for whites to integration and the dismantling of Jim Crow". (As an aside, it seems that one of the electoral problems the Republican Party faces looking forward is that, having secured that minority as a key part of its political coalition, that minority is an ever-shrinking part of the electorate.)I fully expect that if/when the Republican Party makes clear by its agenda that it actively welcomes non-white conservatives that it will rather quickly begin to attract, say, 40% or more of the Latino vote, and 25% or more of the African-American vote.

@Ken (8/29, 2:20 pm) I was under the impression that the DREAM Act was blocked by congressional Republicans (just as they blocked comprehensive immigration reform under Pres. Bush). What evidence do you have that Pres. Obama would not sign the DREAM Act if Congress passed it?

Certainly Republicans hands are not clean regarding immigration reform. However with Democrats in control of the House and Senate from 2006 to 2010 and with Dems controlling the Senate to this day, the Democrat Congress of those days should have offered up the Dream Act to Bush (which they of course were loathe to do, since he was not a Democrat). Alternatively Pres. Obama if he had wanted to between 2008 and 2010 could have done more than this flimsy executive order he eventually offered just in time for the election. Please do not misunderstand me; I am glad Obama did at least what he did. My problem is I think it is too little, that he had the opportunity between 2008 and 2010, and that his eventual temporary amnesty is clearly and afterthought, that if there were no election this year, he would not have signed it yet. Still, something - even thought it is not much - is better than nothing.My point is the reason he did not is simple enough; the Latino lobbyists did not give as much money as the gay lobbyists did. That is simple, sad, and clear enough for anyone to see.Also, a not unimportant point is that rather than ruling by narrow executive orders that can be overturned by subsequent presidents, Mr. Obama should make the effort to pass these sorts of things into law by properly engaging and working with the Congress. Since his order is not a long-term solution to folks in that situation, they are not/cannot be sure of their long term status, and it is simply not right to play games with other peoples lives.

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