It’s worth going back from time to time to revisit the “autopsy” report the Republican National Committee published after its 2012 failures. Party officials committed to being more inclusive, more supportive of immigration reform, and more willing to communicate outside the conservative bubble.
At one point, the report stressed just how important it is for Republicans to “sell our message to the Hispanic community.”
Nearly three years later, it’s amazing how little has actually changed. Republican hostility towards immigration reform has, if anything, intensified. The party’s comfort within the conservative bubble remains intact.
And the drive to “sell our message to the Hispanic community” hardly exists at all. The Wall Street Journal reported:
The nation’s largest Latino advocacy group says it invited every presidential candidate to annual convention next week. Not a single Republican plans to attend, a spokesman said. […]Spokesmen for several Republican candidates did not respond to requests for comment…. The GOP absence from the La Raza conference comes at a time when the Republican field is struggling to respond to incendiary comments from candidate Donald Trump, who charged that Mexican immigrants are “bringing drugs, bringing crime, they’re rapists.”
It’s worth noting for context that Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley have already accepted invitations to appear. Bernie Sanders initially cited a scheduling conflict, but he changed his plans and now expects to be in attendance.
When an event is a high enough priority, that’s what candidates do.
If this dynamic sounds familiar, there’s a good reason – the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials hosted an event in Las Vegas last month and invited Republican presidential candidates to appear. Only one did: Ben Carson. (Clinton and Sanders attended the NALEO event, too.)
A week later, 13 Republican candidates spoke at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to the Majority” conference, in which party officials pandered to the religious right movement.
Just yesterday, Greg Sargent had a good report in the Washington Post on the fragility of the Democratic coalition and the importance of Dems realizing that they can’t take Hispanic support for granted. It’s an important point and party officials would be wise to take it seriously.
That said, it sometimes amazes me the degree to which Republicans are making the Democrats’ job easier.
Looking back at the RNC autopsy again, the report added:
If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies. […]As one conservative, Tea-Party leader, Dick Armey, told us, “You can’t call someone ugly and expect them to go to the prom with you.”
It seems pretty obvious that Donald Trump is seriously undermining Republican outreach to the Latino community, but I’m not sure his GOP rivals are doing the party any favors in this area, either.