Surely the Republican Party knows that it will be most difficult to occupy the White House without a significant percentage of Hispanic votes. Why then are two of the leading candidates seeking the nomination taking such anti Hispanic positions, particularly front runner Mitt Romney? Romney must know that his flip-flops on positions affecting the Hispanic community are disconcerting and unsympathetic to the feelings of the great majority of Hispanics throughout the country.
Surely he must read and hear the multitude of angry opinions voiced by the Hispanic community condemning his positions. The former Governor of Massachusetts is not deaf or dumb, so then why? Can it be that he is under the impression that once getting the nomination he can again reverse his position and win over the Hispanic vote? That is about the only nonsense that makes some kind of sense.
He may be figuring that the nomination must first be obtained and since a great number of Republican members are of the far and extreme right unmoving on the issue of immigration reform for the undocumented, pushing to deny education to their children; and alter the constitution to repeal birthright citizenship, particularly and seemingly only for those from Mexico and Central America. Never mind the other 4+million from other countries. This radical group of Republicans is the most vociferous providing them with plenty of media attention. It appears that the Republican Party is under the control of that extremist group without a voice of reason within the party.
So that the campaign handlers may believe that if Romney does not cater to this group, he simply will not get the nomination and thus whatever position he may truly feel is best will not matter. What remains to be seen is whether he wins the nomination; will he be allowed to change positions negatively affecting the Hispanic community; will his ploy work, and how much of the Republican far right base would follow another flip-flop.
There is talk that Romney’s vice presidential choice will be Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American, to win the Hispanic vote. Senator Rubio is accepted by a good if not majority of Republican Party members, so were that the choice, the party’s far right would not abandon Romney.
The real question is whether the gorilla within the Hispanic community, Mexican-Americas, will accept Senator Rubio. The senator speaks Spanish, but it’s Cuban Spanish with it’s own colloquialism and accent, difficult for many Spanish speakers from other countries to understand. And worse yet, the Senator is not an immigrant in the same fashion as the vast majority of Mexican-Americans. He and his family, not withstanding the Senator’s embellishment as to the origin of his family’s arrival to the U.S., were received with open arms and were quickly provided with legal status and helped settle. They were after all, Cubans escaping the clutches of Fidel Castro’s communism; not the same as Mexicans escaping poverty in search of economic opportunity.
It may not seem like much, but the differences between the Cuban-American community and the Mexican-American community are vast making questionable whether Rubio can make the difference. But without position change on a number of issues dear to the majority of the Hispanic Community, a dozen Rubio’s would not change the Hispanic anti-Republican vote. And sadly Rubio toes the party line joining the anti-immigrant rhetoric.
But I would predict that if Romney wins the Republican nomination besting former Senator Santorum, he then will be chosen to run for Vice President. And though the Senator has been more consistent in his anti-Mexican/Central American immigration positions, those positions are the same as Romney’s and will do nothing to attract the Hispanic vote.
So at the end of the day, what can the Republican Party do so as to not lose the Hispanic vote? It seems that Romney and Santorum are too far down the road with their acceptance of the draconian positions taken by headline grabbing anti brown-skinned immigrants to be able to reverse themselves and make gains. So the prediction at this time is that the most a Romney and whoever his VP choice, the maximum Hispanic vote will not go beyond 15% which spells – adios.
Patrick Osio is the Editor of HispanicVista.com and co-founder of TransBorder Communications an enterprise dedicated to binational economic development.