I’ve recently been thinking about something I call the “50-50 Initiative.” I believe the Republican Party can, and must, adopt an aggressive policy dedicated to the following vision: By 2050, at least 50 percent of Latinos should be consistently voting Republican. Forty years is a long time, but the GOP has a lot of ground to regain. Nevertheless, it is important to re-member that in 2004 President Bush received roughly 45 percent of the Latino vote.
Republican outreach to Latino voters is going to become especially critical in the coming years. Already, Latinos constitute 15 percent of the United States, and by 2050 one in every four Americans will be Latino. This bloc of voters is too crucial to be ignored, particularly when one considers where it is concentrated: in the electoral jackpots of California and Texas, and swing states like Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado. At the present, the Republican Party ignores and alienates Latinos at its own peril. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
I am keenly aware of the challenge and controversy in stereotyping the preferences and characteristics of a certain ethnic group. Latinos are far from being ideologically homogeneous. Yet the fact remains that the Republican Party and the Latino community share some key perspectives. If the GOP plays these up, perhaps it can begin to successfully woo these voters.
First, Latinos tend to place a strong emphasis on family. Social conservatism and traditional values typify Latino culture. Latinos are largely resistant to gay marriage, and voted strongly in favor of California’s Proposition 8. They consider abortion an abominable practice, unthinkable in their families. The Catholic Church occupies a sacred position in Latino lives. By continuing to support faith-based initiatives, the GOP can speak to the deep spirituality of Latino voters.
Second, Latinos are looking to establish themselves economically in the United States. The GOP is the party of small business, free enterprise and innovative entrepreneurship. Latinos want more jobs, less government, more freedom to take economic initiative, and lower taxes. Latinos would em-brace the GOP’s pro-growth agenda if the pitch were made earnestly and persuasively enough.
The kicker here is immigration. It goes without saying that our first priority must be securing our southern border. Thousands of Mexicans have fled horrific narcoviolence and it is in our vital national security interest to make sure that the cartels do not gain a toehold in America. But Latinos are looking to both parties for leadership, and not stonewalling, on comprehensive immigration reform. Republicans would win the abiding loyalty of the Latino population if they were to champion such reforms. Every time a bellicose conservative demonizes the “illegals” he sets the GOP back.
Instead, our party must fight for the DREAM Act to provide educational opportunity to undocumented children, along with a streamlined and revamped guest-worker program. Furthermore, we must do precisely what Ronald Reagan did in 1986.Undocumented residents must register with the government, pay a fine, pay back taxes, learn English, play by the rules and get in the back of the line for the intensive process of gaining citizenship. If they’ve committed crimes in the United States, however, they must immediately be deported. If the GOP ignores the all-too-common erosion of immigrant families through de-portation, it forfeits its claim of representing family values.
A voter feels respected when a candidate or party asks for his or her vote. Former President George W. Bush under-stood this, and passionately courted the Latino community. Today’s Republicans should expand on this commitment by learning Spanish, tailoring their message to Latinos, going on trade missions to Latin America and recruiting more Latino candidates. That last point is key: The GOP can afford all the respect in the world to Latinos, but until those voters start seeing candidates who look like them and share their background, they will be hesitant to embrace the Republican Party.
That’s why I’m eternally grateful for the leadership of some phenomenal candidates this election. Marco Rubio will make a tremendous senator from Florida. Susana Martínez is poised to become one of the most effective governors in New Mexico’s history. California’s Abel Maldonado has earned a full term as lieutenant governor through his disciplined pragmatism. These Republicans are not great Latino leaders; they are great leaders, period.
President Obama and the Democratic Congress have failed the Latino community, and as a result, the window of opportunity is wide open for the GOP to energetically ingratiate itself with Latinos. Republicans must not blow this chance. Los republicanos can secure a permanent majority for decades to come if they recognize the necessity of diversifying the party. I look forward to 2050, when I can laugh at my 50 percent prediction. Who knows? It could be more like 75 percent or 80 percent.
Sam Dulik is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. He can be reached at sdulikthehoya.com. Quorum Call appears every other Friday.