Does He Risk Losing the Latinos?
Eduardo Moisés Peñalver August 27, 2012 - 2:26pm
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.