Monday, March 8, 2010

Do Republicans have a Hispanic Problem? (Part III)

Just a few notes in closing to address some items that have risen in the comments of these posts....

1. "Machine" politics: David Jennings of Big Jolly Politics lamented the presence of "Machine" politics that could be needed were Republicans to up their recruiting of Hispanic candidates. And he was right, to a point. What are political parties after all? In short they're organizational and recruiting entities for those who share (basically) similar ideals. The very job of the party is of a machine in nature. Good local parties recruit good candidates, place them in the best position to win, and organize and get out the vote to help them get elected. True, you don't want your party making endorsements in the campaign, but they sure can make it easier/harder for a preferred/nonpreferred candidate to get elected. Don't you think the State Democratic Party did everything they could do in 2008 to try and prevent Gene Kelly from getting in a run-off w/Barbara Ann Radnofsky? Provided there's no high/exclusionary barrier to entry or influence peddling then "machine" is not necessarily a bad thing.

2. The strength/weaknesses of individual campaigns: I've no idea whether or not the Leo Vasquez live-in issue had any impact on the electoral results. I am willing to bet that his stature as "Paul Bettencourt's hand-picked replacement" did. Like it or not, there is a rather large "anti-Dan Patrick/Paul Bettencourt" contingent that's starting to make some noise throughout the County. Whether or not this can be attributed to Dan's abandonment of principle while in office, (Compare his "Austin can't fix our woes" rhetoric before he got elected to his "We've got to find solutions to these problems" rhetoric now) his overreach on the sonogram bill, or his heavy-handed attempts to unseat local politicians who won't vote for his pet projects, is open to debate. However, there is a slow-steady backlash building against Houston's most neo-conservative radio host. The Carillo campaign is harder to explain away. While Vasquez was carrying some sizable baggage, outside of a few health issues (that were handled) Carillo seemed like an idea candidate, relatively free of scandal. No question neither of the candidates ran perfect races, but there's still quite a large difference in won/loss margin in these races that needs to be attributed to something.

3. How much, if any, of an issue will this be going forward? Truth be told I'm not sure. My initial guess is very little. Right now there's not much coverage on this outside of The InterLeft and MSM political blogs. The former are notorious echo chambers (as are all political blogs really, this one included) and the latter are only lightly read by the general voting public. Most of the readers of The Bloggers 'O the Right don't see the problem in the first place. All in all I'm not sure if there's going to be enough people who care about this to start the chain reaction of change. Republican office holders enjoy the rhetoric of appealing to the minority voter, but don't do much to bring about the reality of minority appeal.

4. Different Parties, Same problem: Lest readers think that I'm only picking on the Republican Party, it's important to note that the Democratic Party has the same problem with rural, non-Hispanic Whites. Of concern, to me, is the dehumanization and stereotyping of one group of people by a significant portion of each major party. Does every Republican have an issue with Hispanics? Of course not, but some do. Just as every Democrat doesn't view urban/suburban white America as a bunch of racist, backward hicks. Based on the writings from bloggers and speeches from candidates some clearly do. Campaigning against one segment of the population as the root of all evils hasn't worked out so swell in the past, and it's probably not going to end swimmingly today.

5. The odd bit: What's really odd about all of this, is that Hispanics would tend to agree more with Republican ideals and, at one time, the Democrats were the party of the rural white farmer. Both parties seem to be working against what should be a core demographic. Much of this is due to a sea-change in party idealism that's many in the lurch without a party to call their own. Evidence of these changes can be found in the recent rise of independent voters we're seeing Nationwide. Either way, it's good fodder for discussion.

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