Columnist Esther J. Cepeda wrote a great must-read article –“Latino Republicans Get No Respect.” She makes critical and important points about the Latino community and the Republican Party. Among them:
- The Latino community is not monolithic. We Hispanics are a diverse group not to be taken for granted.
- Republicans are doing a very poor job of recruiting and empowering local activists.
- Republicans need to learn how to communicate their message (tailor not pander) to Latino audiences. NEVER use insensitive terms like “wetbacks,” and “anchor babies.” Discuss the MANY positive impacts of immigration, instead of always focusing on illegal immigration.
Most importantly Cepeda highlights the Latino activists working on a local level who are doing the lions share of the work of educating voters about the Republican agenda, many times with no help from the Party.
There is still a lot of misunderstanding about the diverse Latino community by non-Latinos. Hispanic voters differ by country of origin, geographic location, generation and phase of life. Yet, they all share some similar traits, like the need to be respected and included.
Both Blase and Hernandez say the real difficulty is in getting people to look past the headlines and the rhetoric the Republicans have spouted about immigrants, especially Hispanic ones. “I think the party is failing on the message-delivery part,” Hernandez said. “Overall they need to be more sensitive. I don’t like to hear our leaders call the undocumented ‘illegals’ or talk about immigration issues with knee-jerk reactions or a police-type mentality like what you’re seeing in Arizona. That’s not going to attract a good, solid Latino following.”
Blase, who describes herself as living at “ground zero” of the illegal immigration debate, says she just can’t stand Arizona Republican leaders freely using terms like “wetbacks,” “anchor babies,” “illegals.”
The quote above highlights the need for candidates and politicians to tone down the negative and dirty rhetoric. Politicians do not need to change their policy, but they do need to tailor their message to their audience and avoid insensitive language.
Often the best ambassadors of the GOP agenda to Latino communities are fellow Latinos, who understand how to tailor the message without compromising the principles of the Republican Party.
While we saw major gains with Hispanic Republican as new Members of Congress, US Senator and two new Governors, much more must be done. Especially at a local level the GOP needs to find smart individuals to involve in the Party structure, as decision makers, campaign workers and candidates for office.
I have often made the case that we, the GOP, must do more to educate and empower conservative Hispanic activists. The Marco Rubio’s of the world are not created overnight. They need to be nurtured, trained and helped along the way