While the jury is still out on how well the Democratic Party will do in its new leadership position in the Congress, one important event happened in 2006 which could spell big problems for the GOP in 2008 and beyond. Latino voters are abandoning the GOP in favor of Democratic candidates for national office in higher numbers than ever before and GOP leaders can only blame themselves for this happening because they followed a short range plan for victory in November 2006 which might have cost them dearly with the fastest growing voting block in the US, Latino voters.
In the days of Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party had a big tent philosophy when it came to national issues, but over the years that big tent has become smaller to where it has now reach the point that some of the biggest leaders in the party sometimes sound more like racist rednecks than major political party leaders. The whole issue of what to do with the out of control problem on the US/Mexico border was at the heart of what drove Latino voters to the Democratic camp this year and it is going to take major strides on the part of GOP leaders to try and get them back into the mainstream of Republican politics.
While Republican leaders will try to encourage millions of Latino voters to come back to the GOP in 2008, there will be some party leaders who will work against the national GOP leadership because those leaders believe the only way to solve the US border control problem with Mexico is with a hammer, instead of a carrot. Many of these hard-line conservative politician are really racist, down deep inside, and their narrow minded view of the world causes them to look upon people with a different skin color as somehow inferior to themselves. I have always believed that what is at the root of racism is not only ignorance, but a fear of what might happen in a world where some minority obtains real political power.
Every political party has its hard-liners, but the most extreme voices in the far right of the Republican Party are so filled with hatred and/or fear of people who don’t look exactly like them, that they refuse to see a new world that is filled with people from different races getting along and working together to solve problems. Immigration from Mexico is not going away and whether or not the US government builds a 700 mile long fence along the border or places troops there, it isn’t going to make a big difference in the overall immigration situation in the United States. What will most certainly tear the fabric of the GOP apart would occur if some narrow minded right wing politician is elected to the presidency in 2008. I’m sure party leaders in the GOP fear this outcome more than almost any other because it would lead to the ultimate destruction of the GOP as a national voice in US politics, for decades.
This narrowing of the political base in the Republican Party I blame mainly on Karl Rove. Even before President Bush was elected for the first time in the year 2000, Rove believed that the United States was evenly divided between Republican and Democratic voters and I believe he felt like the best way to win in national elections was to appeal only to the party base and then turnout would be the actual ends to a means when it came to victory. Of course, he was right in a couple of national elections and major media pundits and others started talking about his genius on their various talk shows and newspaper columns. However, Karl Rove isn’t looking like a genius anymore because his ideas, while successful in the short run, could spell death to the GOP in the long run.
It think it is difficult for political consultants to look much further out into the future than the next election and if politicians who hired these guys are of the same mindset then they deserve what they get. The time between two-year congressional election cycles is so small when viewed in the bubble of history. However, what political consultants are rewarded for are finding the issues of the day and taking their boss, the politician, to victory. It is so important to keep an eye on the bigger picture or politicians and/or party leaders could suffer a mortal self-inflicted wound by taking short-term gain over long term reality.
Short-term political gains are the reason why GOP candidates suffered, at the polls, with Latino voters in 2006. Many national candidates who have never had a tough reelection fight, found themselves trailing in their own districts in 2006 and in a political fight for survival they sold out their souls to the most extreme aspects of the Republican voter base and not only lost the Congress, but also the good will of millions of Latino voters in the process. Any political party which uses race to either win elections or uses it to try and destroy their opponent will usually fail badly in the process. Some incumbents might get lucky and win one more election, but their future in political leadership will not last another election cycle, most of the time.
For the past few election cycles, Latino voters did not vote as a block, like other major minorities in the United States. This meant that the GOP and Democrats were on an even playing field when it came to reaching out for the support of this fast growing segment of the population. My personal opinion is that the GOP inflicted a fatal wound in 2006 when party leaders decided to build a fence, instead of a bridge to their Latino neighbors. Maybe it was inevitable that the GOP would eventually fall apart when the far right extremist took over the party when President Bush was first elected. No major national party will continue to stay in power when their base voters control everything. It did not work for the Democrats when liberals took over and it will not work for the Republicans when hard-core conservatives are in charge of all branches of government.
If my guess is right and Latino voters do leave the GOP for good, the only people who are really responsible are the political leaders and consultants, like Karl Rove, who made the decision that short term victory over long term common sense was the best move and at which point they proceeded to hitched their wagon to narrow minded extremist in an effort to win, just one more election.
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Latinos Leave GOP