About Secret History

Commentary on Latin America.
Mostly about Mexico - but not always.
Designed to encourage readers to learn about
the apparently "secret history" of 500 million people
spread across two continents
- but not always.
You can always count on a little snark.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

GOP Goes for the Americano: Southern Strategy II?

NPR reported today regarding Newt Gingrich's meeting (the Americano forum) in Washington D.C. in search of the US Latin@ vote (no, I don't think the GOP is being ironic by calling it Americano). A forum, he declared, where the GOP can "win the argument" so they can then go out and win the Latin@ vote for the GOP. Would that be Newt "Kevin Phillips" Gingrich?

Kevin Phillips was a campaign advisor for Richard Nixon who reportedly told members of the GOP that:
"From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that... but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans."
Right now Republicans are pulling 40% of a Latin@ vote that is still only voting at about 8% of the electorate, and one has to wonder if there isn't a bit of Kevin Phillips revisited at work here. Republicans would be short sighted if they let the debate over immigration disappear. The more Latin@s who register as Democrats, the sooner the Latin@phobe whites, Asian-Americans and African-Americans will quit the Democrats and become Republicans.

Gingrich will need to start arguing that the base he stirred up in the 1980s (and that Nixon explicitly began gathering in with racial issues) will have to fundamentally change the sort of raging anger and offensive language that drives Latin@s from the party. As one attendee to the Americano summit said:
"When I hear members of the extreme right of the Republican Party speak in the language that they do about immigration, I, frankly, take offense — because there's something about me that they don't like."
The road to a close 2012 election may well be paved with Latin@ votes, but with the paralysis of both parties apparent on key issues of immigration, perhaps the Green Party would be as effective a vote as any for Latin@s (the Greens at least have a valid excuse for not being able to shape policy).

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