Friday, March 25, 2011

State GOP blows opp to gain Latino voters

With new census data out and a poll showing Latinos would not vote for the GOP, the Party's existence is at stake.
By Adrian Perez

SACRAMENTO, CA - The California Republican Party concluded their annual convention March 18-20, 2011 and of the three days of networking and discussing a statewide platform, only three things came out:  1) Condemning former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s commutation of a convicted felon; 2) They agreed not to support any tax measures; and, 3) Gave Presidential hopeful Ron Paul the straw poll.  

No one will disagree that Schwarzenegger’s actions to help out pal and former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez by commuting his son’s prison sentence was wrong.  A felony is a felony and this type of semi-pardons on egregious crimes, such as murder, leaves a bad taste in voters’ minds.  However, compared to the economic and state budgetary problems, this action seemed more as a distraction from placing emphasis on more significant problems the GOP is facing.  

California’s Latino population has grown significantly and is expected to be the majority within a couple of years.  A recent poll showed Latinos are less likely to vote for Republican candidates.  So why wasn’t this a key topic of discussion for the GOP delegates and their leadership?

As their support continues to wane, and as redistricting appears to be leaning Democratic, it would seem Republicans would have spent time strategizing on repairing their image and making overtures to win Latino support.  With the creation of two new Congressional and Assembly seats in predominantly Latino populations, the Central Valley and the Inland Empire, it would only make sense for the GOP to make amends.  Their inattention to this issue will more than likely mean more Democratic gains, which could perhaps place the GOP in the official category of insignificant after the 2012 elections.

To survive in California, Republicans need Latino voters.  The last Republican leader who ever made strong end-roads with Latinos was the late President Ronald Reagan who said, “Hispanics are Republicans, they just don’t know it.”  To expand his reach into this community, he gave amnesty to nearly 4 million undocumented U.S. residents.  In California, some Republican leaders have included prominent Latinos in their inner circle, like former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin.  Even then, it appears as if Republicans have made every effort to alienate this population, including many Latinos who have been loyal to the Party for decades.

Possible Resolutions
Instead of focusing on passing resolutions that would have titled “traitor” to any Party member who supports tax referendums, they should have had an open discussion about what they could do as a Party to improve California.  They should have had an open discussion about how to recruit Latino voters and move long-time supporters up their ranks.  Plus, they should have had an open discussion of which opportunities could bridge the needs of business, Latinos and the state’s overall economy.  One such opportunity Democrats appear to take for granted and could be strong GOP bargaining chip is Education.  

Being the Party that is perceived to represent business, they should know that a strong and well-educated workforce is a major attraction for industry, a topic Schwarzenegger embraced and won him many supporters.  With the Public Policy Institute of California telling us there is going to be a major shortage of a college educated workforce, coupled with Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal of cutting especially higher education, the opportunity to seize the moment has been there for GOP leaders.  By adopting a platform that would have negotiated the improvement of education from K-12 through college, the GOP could have won the votes of many parents and especially Latinos, whose children comprise the majority in schools throughout the state.  Plus, focusing on higher education would encourage additional support from industry.

Unfortunately, the GOP leadership missed this opportunity.  Moreover, they don’t dabble in education, as witnessed by their lack of interest in participating in local school districts.  This shortsighted agenda will continue to add to the California GOP’s undoing.  

Not all Latinos support education cuts and are looking for individual leaders with real solutions for their children to have an opportunity in California and American society.   Many of these voters feel abandoned by Democrats and ignored to the point of being disliked by Republicans.  Perhaps there is a need to have a new third party that understands and values Latinos.

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