As the Republican Party regroups and reflects after the 2012 election, there's no shortage of people looking for someone or something to blame for the party's disappointing results. Many say extreme rhetoric on topics such as immigration caused the party the election, as they only succeeded in alienating the increasingly important Latino vote.
The Republican Party traditionally has a tough stance on immigration, supporting things like strict deportation policies, "show me your papers" laws like Arizona SB 1070, and building a border fence. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said he supported "self-deportation" for the millions of undocumented immigrants currently in the country, a statement that unsurprisingly made him unpopular with Latino voters.
Latinos voted overwhelmingly for President Barack Obama, with 71 percent casting their votes to re-elect him. The demographic also played an important role in several battleground states: Florida, Colorado, and Nevada all have high Latino populations. Post-election, Romney said he failed to capture Latinos because he was unable to compete with policy "gifts" from Obama, like a path to citizenship and access to healthcare.
There are currently 50 million Latinos in the United States, and by 2050 it is estimated that there will be 128 million. Writing in U.S. News, Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco, dean of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, says political parties can no longer afford to misunderstand Latinos:
Memo to future campaigns: From today until the midpoint of the 21st Century, Latinos will account for an unprecedented 60 percent of our population growth.
If the Republican Party hopes to once again connect with our fastest growing demographic—such as when George W. Bush won over 40 percent of their vote—myths, clichés, and wishful thinking need to be replaced by the hard work of understanding this perplexing demographic.
Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American, is attempting to help his party do just that. He hopes to show Latinos that the GOP represents their conservative family and religious values, and that the party is the right choice for them. The senator said the topic of immigration reform must be addressed, and has drafted a bill that he said has received good feedback from others in Congress.
"People understand that we need to do something to address these issues, and we need to do it in a reasonable and responsible way," Rubio said.
What do you think? Does the GOP need to change its rhetoric on immigration? Take the poll and comment below.
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