There is a moment from the 2010 California Governor’s race I remember. During the candidate’s only Spanish language debate, both candidates were asked by a star college student who’s immigration status was precarious what the candidates would do for her. Democrat Jerry Brown’s response was to talk about the responsibility we all have to students to ensure they succeed, what ever their immigration status is. Republican Meg Whitman, however, was condescending. Beginning with “I’m glad you were able to get a good, free education in California’s K-12 public schools,” she talked about how the state didn’t have the resources to help her or any other student who was undocumented.
Jerry Brown won the election 54% to 41%, despite being outspent 4-1.
Many prominent Republicans have begun to support immigration reform. They saw their defeat in 2012 as being due in no small part to lack of Latino support. Given we have about 19 million people in the US who’s legal status needs to be resolved, I hope we can get a fair proposal through. However, I don’t think Republicans really understand what their true problem is.
To quote my favorite blog post of all time–
The funny thing about all of this is that no matter how bad all their ideas are, no matter how disastrous their governance has been, no matter how many horrible things they have done to the economy and this country, what really is killing the Republican party is that deep down, they are just complete assholes.
You see this in how Republicans treat not just Hispanic voters but all voters who don’t fall into their narrow group. We came from an election where the top two candidates of the Republican ticket disagreed on whether 47% of Americans were moochers or merely 30%. You saw Republicans insulting women who had been raped and calling the first black President a “food stamp president.” On issues regarding Hispanics, we saw conservatives belittle the first Hispanic nominee to the Supreme Court to accusing undocumented workers of being hardened criminals. And let’s not get into how conservatives feel about gay couples…
As I said, it’s great immigration reform is being taken up by prominent conservatives. However, it may not get them much Hispanic support. In 2012, Hispanic voters put other issues ahead of immigration. With migration from Mexico to the US largely flat, issues like health care (where 40% of Hispanics are uninsured) to unemployment (Hispanic unemployment is over 11%) are taking greater precedence to the Latino community. On these issues, Republicans don’t appear to be changing at all.
Now, a lot can happen in 4 years. There also appears to be a “come to Jesus” moment with prominent conservatives realizing they need to broaden their coalition or they will cease to exist, regardless of what ever power grabbing schemes the concoct. However, on the central issue of treating other people with dignity and respect, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or size of bank account, there doesn’t appear to be any meaningful change…