Latinos and President Huckabee
We think a good case can
be made that the very people
who will decide the next
election are only being
addressed obliquely, and even
then, only in a negative way.
According to a recent poll conducted by The New
York Times, the No. 1 issue driving Republican
voters in Iowa was, overwhelmingly, immigration.
The word “amnesty,” which Ronald Reagan used
to describe his sweeping immigration reform in
1987, is now an epithet. The winner in Iowa, former
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, made a leap in one
week from his righteous debate statement “In all
due respect, we are a better country than to punish
children for what their parents did” to announcing
his plan to force between 12 million and 20 million
undocumented workers to register within 120 days
or face deportation and banishment for 10 years.
The growing virulence of the Republican talk
about “walls” and “lawbreakers” has led to the GOP
losing every bit of Latino support it benefited from
in the 2000 elections. Documented Latino immi-
grants and their progeny understand that hate talk
doesn’t discriminate between those with documents
and those without.
There’s a lesson here for the Democrats. Al-
though we do see a link between the good will gen-
erated by white voters in Iowa who supported Sen.
Barack Obama and white people nationwide, there
is no evidence that this translates in any significant
way to Latino voters.
The Democratic Party, which could benefit from
the negative feelings the Republicans have gener-
ated, doesn’t seem to have either the conviction,
the insight or possibly the courage to speak plainly
about immigration. Perhaps they feel that the
negatives outweigh the potential positives in this
Bad idea: As is the case in selling any product,
the absence of a negative is only a compelling
case for commodity pricing. If Latinos come out
and vote for president, it is likely we will see a
Democratic victory. However, negative feelings for
Republicans are not enough to get Latinos to take
action and get off the couch to vote against them.
Translating a web site into Spanish isn’t going to
move the needle.
That’s why there may be a good case to be made
for getting used to the concept of President Hucka-
bee at the current juncture.
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