This past weekend Univision anchor and Twitter rockstar Jorge Ramos published an open letter to the GOP on his personal web page. Called "Squandering the Hispanic Vote: An Open Letter to the GOP," Ramos proceeded to give the Republican Party some strategic advice about the 2012 election a few days before the party's convention in Tampa. (Apparently, Ramos will also be penning a letter to the Democrats next weekend.)
What struck me was Ramos' central argument, which he states in the second paragraph:
The Hispanic community is going to cast millions of ballots for President Barack Obama in November, many more than they will cast for Mitt Romney, which may swing the election toward a Democratic win. But that’s not the worst news: Unless your party changes its unreasonable anti-immigrant stance, your party will likely be shut out of the White House for generations.
Considering that Ramos is perhaps this country's most powerful and influential Spanish-language news personality, a letter like his can reach a wide audience pretty quickly. I could have dissected his letter paragraph by paragraph, but instead of just offering my own thoughts, I extended an invite to some of my online friends and ask them for their impressions
So this week's Rebelde column is all about a few of my fellow "political junkie" friends, whom I respect immensely. They are passionate, smart, and represent the best of the digital Latino world. Here they are: professor/NBC Latino pundit Stephen A. Nuño, Latina media personality Lili Gil, writer/activist Roberto Lovato, research expert Melissa Salas Blair, award-winning author Raul Ramos y Sanchez, and journalist/writer Pilar Marrero.
Mr. Ramos understands very well that in order to have effective governance, the diversity of the Latino population requires a party system that is equally diverse in its representation of interests important to Latinos. His letter is an appeal to democracy, of the type of pluralism envisioned by our Founding Fathers, that no single faction wield too much influence over government. The design of our Constitution dictates that no Party can survive without adhering to this basic principle of representation. Jorge Ramos is not trying to save Latinos from Republicans. His letter is stating quite the opposite.
As a Latina voter, marketer and political analyst who takes every chance on-set and on-air as an evangelistic mission, I am terribly disappointed to see how the numbers, trends and new reality of America are not good enough for most decision makers in this country to take proper action…Without having to hire expensive consultants, run proprietary research or wonder what the perfect silver bullet is, basic electoral math points to FL, CO, NV as decisive swing states where Latinos represent over 20% of the population and up to 15% of the electorate. It is harder to argue against the numbers than to embrace the reality that Latinos WILL decide who makes it into the White House.
I appreciate Jorge's calling out the GOP in its virulent and not-very-smart Latino politics, but like the wishful thinking about Hurricane Isaac being God's punishment on the Republicans, that doesn't necessarily mean that the Democrats are necessarily "good." There are still record numbers of people being deported by the Democrat-led Obama Administration. Thousands of children and adults will continue to be terrorized by the Obama Administration's ICE raids on homes, schools and workplaces; and then there's the continued support for the anti-worker, pro-corporation policies that Obama and Romney, Republicans and Democrats largely agree about. In sum, I wish Jorge would have reminded people that bad Republicans do not a Democrat make.
Ramos states what many of us have known about both parties — Latino communities are treated as political ping pong. One issue is that most in the GOP don't discuss a myriad of issues, they are staying one note and that doesn't attract people to your party and in most cases has the opposite effect — people leave your party. People identifying themselves as Independents is rising while Democrats and Republicans are having people leave. Nationally here is the big picture: Independents 41%, Democrats 31% and Republicans 28%.
The issue of illegal immigration has been demagogued by the Republican party. Instead of focusing on the systemic economic causes driving migrants to leave their homelands, such as the lopsided NAFTA trade pact, the GOP has chosen to demonize people doing nothing more than most Americans would do in the same circumstances… seek a better life for their families. This pandering to xenophobes and racists has the potential for consequences much more dire than the threat posed by a man from Oaxaca supporting his family working at a U.S. car wash.
The letter says nothing that other media hasn´t said or Republicans know already. But the trick is, this year, many Republicans, even Romney, gambled they had more to win by being super tough on immigrants and supporting the Arizona law, etc., than by being moderate on the issue. But Romney is quickly repackaging his message already to try to moderate it. Too late, in my view.
As for my own opinion? There is a reason why I decided to feature some of my online friends in this weekly post.
I agree with all of them.
Julio (Julito) Ricardo Varela (@julito77 on Twitter) founded LatinoRebels.com (part of Latino Rebels, LLC) in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. His personal blog, juliorvarela.com, has been active since 2008 and is widely read in Puerto Rico and beyond. He will pen a weekly column on LR each week. Recently, Julito represented the Rebeldes on CBS' Face the Nation, NPR, and The New York Times.