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El Nuevo GOP: ¡Hola Latinos!

November 24th, 2012 No comments

Republican Elephant With SombreroFollowing their stinging losses nationwide a few weeks ago, it was clear that there would be “soul searching” in the Republican Party, as many news sources put it. Well, apparently, it didn’t take very long for a consensus on one point: it’s time for the GOP to earnestly reach out to Latino voters.

This comes in the wake of a slew of sources trying to make sense of the election results, mostly by slicing up the American electorate to generalize a narrative about it. Do we as Americans enjoying being categorized and then generalized about? No. But I think, at this point, demographic groups are still just one of the best ways we know to digest large amounts of social data.

One of the most popular ways to examine ourselves is through the racial/ethnic lens: Obama had a lockdown on the black vote, with latinos breaking for him 71% to Romney’s 27%, and almost 60% of white voters preferring Romney. Jews were reliably Democratic, but perhaps becoming less so, and it seems no one bothered to count the Native American vote, even though they may have tipped some western Senate races to the Democrats.

Others have sliced the country up by age, gender, education, religion, or class. The gap between the parties on all of these (except maybe education) was quite wide. Mathis at The Atlantic thinks that almost all of these are really just facets of Republicans losing the urban vote.

With all these points of view, it makes a lot of sense that Republicans see their future with the Latino vote. Getting the youth vote would be very hard at this point, and would probably involve embracing gay marriage and some form of environmentalism, alienating the religious right and the business wing of the party. Winning over women would require flexibility on contraception, abortion, and the idea of “traditional family values,” all of which are rather central to the GOP’s current social platform. It seems they have all but written off blacks as Democrat cronies beholden to liberals for handouts, and with that attitude, they are unlikely to attract too many African American voters anytime soon. Same for the very poor.

Latinos, on the other hand, could be welcomed into the party with less painful policy changes. Although I hate the implication that they are one-issue voters, immigration reform is still very important to Latinos, as evidenced by exit poll responses. Shifting to a softer stance on immigration is not as hard because the business community and the libertarian wing of the party are already for it. The national security hawks will want strong border security, but could be convinced not to oppose citizenship reforms. The religious right will be heartened by the perception of Latinos as very religiously Christian. This just leaves the xenophobes and the “They took errr jobs!” folks who will be unhappy. But if the conservative thought leaders and talking heads start softening their rhetoric, I hope it might dull some of this sentiment. Either way, it’s not like those types of people are going to suddenly flee the GOP and vote Green Party.

Marco Rubio

Look Hispanics! We’ve got Marco Rubio! Now please vote for us.

There is already strong evidence of this shift. FOX News’ Sean Hannity immediately softened his hardline stance on immigration after the election, saying, “I think you control the border first, you create a pathway for those people that are here, you don’t say you gotta home. And that is a position that I’ve evolved on.” Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of FOX, signaled a new tack for the conservative network, tweeting: “Must have sweeping, generous immigration reform,make existing law- abiding Hispanics welcome. Most are hard working family people.” Charles Krauthammer, another anti-amnesty FOX hardliner, also softened his position while speaking on the air. John Boehner has signaled more willingness to work on the issue, and Republicans like Marco Rubio, Lindsay Graham, and John McCain, who have always favored a more open position towards Latino immigrants, are starting to find the wind at their backs.

I believe many Latinos, for their part, will be willing to reciprocate this change of heart. Some Latino communities lean conservative on social values, and are open to more libertarian economic principles, especially those that run small businesses or have been economically successful in the U.S. Others believe more strongly in economic justice and a robust safety net, even while they might sympathize with the GOP’s religiosity and focus on a strong family unit. In this way, working class Latinos are not that different from the rest of the U.S. working class, and purging racist/xenophobic sentiments from the Republican Party would make some Latinos feel like they have a legitimate choice between ideals. Latinos come from such a diversity of backgrounds that there really is no reason for them to behave like a bloc… unless one party systematically treats them that way to their detriment. At the same time, Republicans may have an overstated view of Latinos’ “traditional values,” since a majority now support gay marriage, and in general Latinos are less likely to vote based on social issues. This is especially true of younger folks.

Despite some flaws in their theory, however, this pragmatic shift in the GOP is a good thing. It means immigration reform might be the first major issue in recent memory where we see bipartisan cooperation. There will still be many disagreements on the details, but for the first time, both parties seem to have major incentives to get something done, and appear to building the will to do so.

Still, it feels like something is missing from my little analysis here… did I forget to mention something or someone? Oh that’s right…

ASIANS

Asian Americans

Photo: Getty Images

How come everyone leaves out Asians when talking about voting blocs? Maybe because they are so diverse, coming from so many different countries… wait, same for Latinos. Ok, maybe it’s because they don’t vote as a bloc? Well guess what: Asian Americans voted for Obama by an even larger margin than Latinos. 73% of Asian Americans chose the Obaminator, decisively handing him a victory.

The GOP’s relationship with Latinos is extremely important, but I think they are missing a huge wakeup call from the Asian community. Bill Clinton only won 31% of the Asian vote twenty years ago, so this is a constituency that Republicans have been steadily losing, despite it representing on average the most affluent racial group.

And the cherry on top: Asians are now the fastest growing immigrant group in the United States. This has not been widely circulated, so I’ll give it a moment to sink in. Read that again: Asians are now the fastest growing immigrant group in the United States. Despite the way everyone talks about Latinos, they are not the fastest growing immigrant group anymore. When our immigration policies are changed, the changes will be mostly affecting Asians, for as long as this trend continues.

Darth Romney Hates ChinaSo that means that while the GOP is scrambling to whip out their “Learn in Your Car” Spanish tapes, they should also consider talking a little less crazy about China. Because 3.4 million Chinese Americans probably don’t like it when you sound like you want to kick their home country in the balls while shouting, “America, f*** yeah!” Supporting more Asian Americans to run for office and not taking the Asian community for granted probably wouldn’t hurt either (for both parties).

And that is the extent of the analysis I feel like doing on the election and it’s aftermath. Good day!

The US is not pulling its weight with the Iraqi refugee crisis

April 4th, 2010 No comments

Iraqis celebrate their homeland's soccer Asian Cup victory in downtown Stockholm. (Photo: emilyarinacrossthepond.blogspot.com)

We could argue endlessly about how much the situation in Iraq has improved or worsened since the 2003 invasion. One thing should be made clear however: the Iraqi people are the best judges of the situation and the standard of living in Iraq. And we can easily measure their opinion through how they vote with their feet. Over 2 million Iraqis have been forced to internally migrate to safer areas, while another 2 million plus have left the country. The scale of this movement becomes apparent when one takes into account that Iraq has about 30 million people.

Unfortunately, most of the refugees have fled to neighboring countries in the Middle East that are poorly equipped to handle them. They are in desperate need of faltering aid as they are without adequate food, shelter, education, or a permanent place to call home. And few have returned to Iraq as very few can.

What about the United States? With millions of Iraqis having left the country, surely the leading juggernaut of the Coalition of the Willing must have been more than willing to accept many of these immigrants with open arms.

No. As of the summer of 2009, the United States has accepted about 30,000 immigrants since the invasion. That is equal to 0.01% of the total US population. Probably the most gracious western country to accept Iraqis so far has been Sweden, which currently has 49,000 recent Iraqi arrivals. Not only is this figure over 50% higher than for the US, but when you realize that Sweden’s population is a paltry 9,300,000—the sheer scale of Sweden’s help becomes apparent. That means that 0.5 percent of all people living in Sweden are recent Iraqi immigrants today. This would be the equivalent of the US having nearly 1,580,000 Iraqi immigrants—more people than who live in metropolitan New Orleans. Compare to the actual 30,000 figure, which is about the same number as the inhabitants of Kearney, Nebraska.

Funny, as Sweden was never in the Coalition of the Willing. In fact, it was deeply opposed to the invasion. But it’s liberal asylum laws and generous social welfare programs have made it attractive to Iraqis looking for a new home, while other European countries and the US maintain stricter controls on immigration.

The Swedish government is not amused at carrying much of a burden that they see others are not as willing to take on. The strain on social services is being felt, and apartments overloaded with over a dozen residents is not an uncommon sight. The small Swedish city of Sodertalje alone took in more Iraqi asylum seekers in 2007 than the US as a whole that year. Has the US made any efforts to increase the number of Iraqi immigrants into the country?

Sort of. For example in 2007 the US announced an increased target of 7000 Iraqi immigrants, but due to red tape only 1600 were admitted.

Iraqi refugees in Syria live in poor conditions awaiting to move on to a new life. (Photo: damascustoduncan.org)

Despite some improvements in the situation in Iraq, the millions in the refugee camps throughout the Middle East will not likely have a chance to return home. Many of them belong to religious minorities, such as the Christians, and would face discrimination, violence, or worse upon return. Thus many expect the number of asylum-applicants to continue to grow in 2010. The United States has a responsibility to further open its arms to these refugees. Not only because this refugee crisis would not exist if the US had not gone into Iraq, but because we went in with the pretense of liberating the country and giving Iraqis better lives, and we should take more concrete action for these people stuck in limbo to put our money where our mouth is. No one is advocating that we take in proportionally as many Iraqis as the Swedes, as there are limits to our resources, but would it be too much to ask to double, triple, or quadruple the current numbers we’ve let in?

http://www.theirc.org

http://www.unrefugees.org

http://news.bbc.co.uk

http://www.nowpublic.com

http://www.unrefugees.org/site/c.lfIQKSOwFqG/b.4950813/k.653D/Iraq_Refugee_Emergency.htm