Hispanics delivered. We had the president’s back on Election Day. Not only did more turn out to vote than ever before, more of them voted for Barack Obama – a stunning 75 percent, according to exit polls, the highest percentage ever for any presidential candidate.
It’s always hard to say exactly whose vote pushed anyone over the top, but it is safe to say that without the overwhelming support of Latinos, Obama would have lived up to Republican expectations and have to start packing. The Hispanic vote was vital – and critical – in the battleground states of Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Florida.
A precinct analysis in the heavily Puerto Rican areas along the center strip of Florida, the so-called “I-4 corridor”, show that turnout went up by 15 percent over 2008, and they gave the president an unprecedented 84 percent of the vote.
And don’t forget, Mitt Romney was winning Virginia, decisively, until the results from the more heavily Hispanic precincts rolled in. At the end of the night, Obama took Virginia. Again.
Yes, everyone is going to point to the immigration thing. And they’re right.
But it’s not just about the immigration laws. It’s the immigration talk..
Latinos voted for Obama because they didn’t feel like he treated us like outsiders, invaders or interlopers. Frankly, the Republicans – including Mitt Romney – did.
They know they did.
Marco Rubio told them. So did Newt Gingrich. So did former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie. So did former Florida Gov. (and famous First Son and First Brother to two presidents) Jeb Bush.
Bush painted a picture that surely must have shocked the spurs off of the GOP. Texas, he said, will go for the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, for the first time since 1980. The reason: Hispanics.
“It’s a math question,” Bush told New York Magazine. “Four years from now, Texas is going to be a so-called blue state. Imagine Texas as a blue state – how hard it would be to carry the presidency or gain control of the Senate.”
Speaking on CNN the morning after Obama’s re-election and the unexpected drubbing Republican candidates across the country suffered, Newt Gingrich said the party’s future depends on it. Republicans, he said need to ask if they want to “in a disciplined way, create a schedule and a program to include people who are not traditionally Republican in order to grow a party that by 2016 is competitive?”
Yep, that part was all about them. But Gingrich, thankfully, knows it’s a two-way street.
“I think you can build a program that is very appealing and very inclusive,” Gingrich said. “And just for our audience let me say, the difference between outreach and inclusion is outreach is when five white guys have a meeting and call you. Inclusion is when you are in the meeting.”
See? He gets it. Or, if you’re cynical, he gets that that’s what we want and need to hear. That would at least start the conversation.
Now back to that immigration thing.
A large part of the sense of feeling excluded (and looked down upon, and unwanted, and mistrusted) came from the incendiary rhetoric, along with some draconian laws, about immigration.
Arizona led the way, with Kris Kobach’s help. Their notoriously unfair and, as the Supreme Court decided, largely unconstitutional “show me your papers” law ordered police to stop and question suspected undocumented immigrants.
Translation: If they look too brown, stop ‘em.
Alabama followed suit. South Carolina tried.
Then, Kobach (this guy really latches on to an issue doesn’t he?) got the Republican Party to adopt similarly exclusionary immigration rules as part of the official party platform.
But, you know what, Mr. President? Things change.
The Republicans (at least some of them) realize they have to change their stand on immigration. Even Speaker of the House John Boehner said reform is “overdue.”
So, Mr. President, seize the moment.
You promised us immigration reform four years ago. Yes, we know you tried and the Republicans blocked you. But you didn’t try again until Election Season, when you miraculously looked and noticed you had the power to give us a semi-DREAM Act and block the deportation of young undocumented immigrants.
What a revelation!
OK, even if it wasn’t a well-timed political ploy, it’s time to do right by the people who did right by you.
You need to push for immigration reform in the first 100 days of your new term (92 is what a group of Hispanic Evangelicals is calling for, because presumably the Bible mentions the word “immigrant” 92 times).
If you don’t, we’ll know the saying is true: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. And now there’s another party knocking on our doors and asking to make nice.