Commentary: GOP 'acts stupid' and loses Latino voters

The Sacramento BeeSeptember 7, 2012 


Sacramento Bee columnist Marcos Breton.

SCOTT LORENZO — Sacramento Bee/MCT

Was it something I said?

Last Wednesday's column, in which I wrote that I could be Republican if it weren't for the party's nativist tendencies, drew angry responses from some people – and that's OK. I admit to having my own biases. But am I racist, as some of you suggest?

If I'm not blown away by a few brown faces at the GOP National Convention, and if I think the GOP plays wedge politics to the detriment of people of my ethnicity, then yes. If that's your definition, then I am a racist.

But as long as we are hurling accusations, how about we all engage in some shared introspection?

I've taken your letters, emails, voice messages and Internet postings to heart. But are you willing to look within yourselves?

How about it?

Some of you speak from a similar script: "Marcos, why are you always hung up on race? Why can't we all just be Americans?"

I agree. But from where I sit, it seems easy for some of you to call for a colorblind society, when you haven't walked in the shoes of people around you who don't have the luxuries you take for granted.

And it's not as if my problems with the GOP are figments of my imagination. Speaking about the party's fractured relationship with Latinos, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said, "The future of our party is to reach out consistently to have a tone that is open and hospitable to people who share values," adding that the "conservative cause would be the governing philosophy as far as the eye could see – and that's doable if we just stop acting stupid."

Instead, the GOP is the party of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who has achieved success on the odious ticket of immigrant bashing. GOP pols in Alabama are behind draconian laws to punish immigrants.

Republican politicians are the ones who play wedge politics and feed myths that we can and should deport all immigrants who are here without documentation.

The GOP is the reason the federal DREAM Act was blocked in Congress – legislation that would have offered a path to citizenship to undocumented young people who were brought to this country illegally by their parents.

These kids had no say in coming here without documentation. They are not the rapists and drug dealers we should be reporting, and yet they live in fear.

Why? Because GOP pols "act stupid" and block the DREAM Act in order to make points with constituents who don't see the difference between the A student and the criminal.

The DREAM Act would have required kids to go to college or into the military, to keep their noses clean and, if they did, they could come out of the shadows and benefit our communities.

But, no. Wedge politics rule the day and we don't come within 10,000 miles of immigration reform.

Tom Sullivan, the nationally syndicated radio host, took me to task last week on his show on News Talk 1530 (KFBK). Sullivan said something to the effect of: "Instead of complaining, Latinos should do something about all of this."

We are, Tom. We are voting for Democrats. If Latinos vote in big enough numbers in November, President Barack Obama gets re-elected.

It's really that simple.

It doesn't have to be that way. Jeb Bush gets it. A lot of Republicans get it – and not just on immigration issues. The speeches given by Republicans such as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were moving and inspirational.

They spoke to a GOP of fiscal responsibility and conservative values that is inclusive. I can get behind that. But in my lifetime, the GOP has run up huge deficits when given the chance. The GOP bangs the drum the hardest on social issues where the government should have no place.

Plenty of conservatives, such as Dick Cheney, David Brooks, Ward Connerly and Ted Olson, do not think the government should block same-sex marriage.

How can you say you're conservative and stand behind laws that state who can and cannot get married based on religious concerns? Doesn't the separation of church and state mean that faith should inform laws but not dictate them?

I can see why my beloved bishops in the Catholic Church would want to prevent this – but the government? How does that fit with conservative expressions of equal access and personal freedom?

It doesn't, but it makes great wedge politics practiced liberally by GOP leaders and their supporters.

Brooks, the New York Times columnist, just wrote that the GOP does not provide enough of a vision for the single mom, the factory worker or the blue-collar family.

That weakness has an ethnic component. Latino families pulling themselves up the ladder of American opportunity will vote for Democrats in big numbers until the GOP stops "acting stupid," as Bush said, and starts articulating a more inclusive vision.

Call me a racist if you will or refuse to acknowledge any of these points. But if enough Republicans ignore them, don't be surprised if you're feeling angry and bewildered on election night.

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