by Alex Gonzalez
Should Conservative Latinos leave the GOP after Trump and Cruz? Where will they go?
It is an open secret that the Republican party machine is preparing for big open or contested convention in Cleveland to stop Donald Trump from becoming the Republican nominee. It is also an open conversation about what will happen to the Party that no longer is the party of Ronald Reagan, or the Party of George W. Bush that wooed millions of Latinos to the party. So what will happens in Cleveland will important for the birth of new conservative political movement in American and Latinos need to be shrewd about it. This is not to suggest that Latino who adhere to a center-right political and economic philosophy will abandon it, but rather arguing that Latinos should look for workable conservative alternative, or a party, that truly reflects their values and needs and advance their policy priorities; and a that offers respect for their history and regional culture. A party that is controlled by Trumpians and Ted Cruz can never be a party for Latinos – especially Mexican-Americans.
The party leaders now worry that an open contested convention in Cleveland will result in a splintering of the party between those populist forces of Trump and Cruz and the more centrist “establishment” wing. So there is real chance that there won’t be a Republican Party after Cleveland. The grassroots activists that support Cruz will not take defeat calmly and will continue to argue that they lost because the party was not “conservative enough,” and thus, refuse to follow the rules of the “establishment.”
As a result, if in fact, is that after the Republican convention in Cleveland, the GOP splinters into a new party, or parties, there are already some conservative ideas being discussed as a “conservative alternative” for a new political movement. So Latinos, those seeking to find and cohesive political force, need to be mindful of what is about to happen.
If the Republican Party accepts Trump it will lose its soul, and it will become necessary to find an alternative: a different candidate, and quite possibly a new party – Eliot A. Cohen
There was great attention placed on Peggy Noonan’s piece because she argued that “the Republican Party is shattering today ” because its philosophy, conservative political thought and respect of institutional no longer exist. Some argue that the Republican Party needs a new Lincoln Caucus to return to its core institutional core values. There are others like Yuval Levin suggesting that this is an opportunity to “modernize” the conservative movement.
Both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have made immigration – mass deportation and the “wall” – a cornerstone of their presidential campaigns to woo white voters who dominate the GOP primaries. But for Latinos, especially Mexican-Americans in the southwest, this anti-immigrants hot rhetoric is based on the deceptive political fear tactics to drive up the anti-Latino/Mexican feelings that are displayed in anti–Mexico chants and support for “mass deportation.” However, the issue of immigration for Latinos – deportation, “path to citizenship” and the “wall” – has become very personal, and they now perceive it as a cultural attack by both Trump and Ted Cruz.
For example, the new Pew Center poll shows that Only 16% of those Latinos say the “wall” is a good idea compared with Republican-leaning 84% of those who support Trump and 64% of those who support Ted Cruz.
Clearly, if the GOP splinters, those “conservative” Latinos who have acquired political titles, and those who have profiteered from this “angry revolt”– talk radio – will reject any changes to this “failed strategy” with Latinos because they have benefited under the old party system. Also, there are some cultural elites and organization like Heritage Foundation and the National Review that for a long time have advised Republican not to incorporate Mexican-Americans in the conservative movement.
Nevertheless, it is important for all Latinos – especially Mexican-Americans – to recognize the party of Trump or Cruz will not share the values or Reagan or W. bush, values that made the party attractive to Latinos in the southwest . Thus, any new party the emerges ought to recognize that Latinos are the future of the party and that there are cultural cleavage that must be acknowledged and respected the same way that the old system respect the state of Israel and the Scot-Irish in the South.
Moreover, regardless of what the old establishment party claims – the Republican National Committee (RNC) and states’ parties – Latinos are not warming up to Ted Cruz, even though Cruz is Cuban (Latino). The results from Florida, Nevada, Arizona show that Latino voters have a very low favorability for Ted Cruz; and in California, polls show both Trump and Cruz will drive the party to a new low among Latino voters. So Ted Cruz is not the token image of Latino “inclusiveness” that old party system was looking for.
Clearly, the fact that the base rejected Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, even after Party elites – the “establishment” – wanted Rubio symbol of “inclusiveness” to lure Latino voters. But Marco Rubio, who is Cubans, never really appealed to the millions on Mexican-Americans in the southwest. So not only Rubio failed to appeal to an older white Republican base, he also failed to appeal to Latinos in the southwest. The party bosses at the RNC wanted Rubio to be what he is not – a Latino from the southwest; so they can’t manufacture an token image of to win over Latinos with a Cuban in the southwest that is predominantly Mexican-Americans, as Gregory Rodriguez noted:
One sure sign of the need for a reality check in the immigration debate is the number of politicians and policies claiming to serve the interests of a national “Latino community.” That “community” — as a single entity — is a myth. All 55 million Latinos can’t be reduced to a single-issue interest group. Such reductionism allows Washington to hijack “Latinos” for its own purposes. It allows the media to entertain the absurd notion that throngs of mestizo Mexican Americans from California will one day help carry a white Cuban U.S. senator from Florida to the White House because they’re all Latino. It enables the Republican Party to think that supporting immigration reform is enough of a solution to having become a de facto white race party.
As a result, the party technocrats wanted to give us a white Cuban from Florida as token for Latino Mexican-Americans in the southwest, and a young image of Latino that does not look too brown so the older white base will not be too afraid; but both the older white base and Latinos did not embrace this false manufactured “inclusiveness” image. The party manufactured a “Latino” images that was to be sold to the millions of Mexican-American Latinos in the southwest. But that plan has failed, and Trump and Ted Cruz opted to capitalize on fear and anti-immigrant anti-Mexican feeling within the party, a 180 degree turn from George W. Bush message to Mexican immigrants and native Mexican-Americans in the southwest.
The party bosses do not want Mexican-Americans about the experience and like to pretend we have always been treated as “equal” so they create this superficial “Hispanic” label to de-emphasize our history, and instead, they bring “Hispanics” from other states like Florida to show that party is inclusive with all “Hispanics”, including Mexicans.
However, the party has allowed Rubio to use his Cuban immigrant ethnic identity to be used a source of strength and pride, but has not allowed the few GOP Mexican-Americans to only talk about their identity because that is still a liability, and instead they opt for a more subtle Hispanic label. So there is double standards within the party for few “privileged” Hispanic Cubans who were groomed by the Party to represent all “Hispanics” and for Mexican-Americans who still cannot embrace their identity because they party has been avoiding this contentious racial/ethnic issue.
Thus, it is true that the party has hijacked the Hispanic label and has this idea that naturally Marco Rubio will appeal to the millions of Mexican-Americans, even if the party anoints the immigration issue,
But this idea can only work if Rubio himself embraces the culture and issue important to Mexican-Americans.
Mexican-American Republicans against the Party Machine
Because of the national party (RNC) has adopted a harsh agenda against the Obama agenda for immigration reform – “amnesty” – and “executive actions,” and Obamacare, Mexican-American Republican governors with large Latino population are running their states in very different way from the campaign of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz on immigration.
Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have made defeating Obamacare, and “oppose amnesty” a big part of the campaign because this is popular among tea partiers and “old whites” who makes the base of the Republican base, especially in the primary. And the RNC, for the most part, has done the same and rally against Obama “executive action” to keep the base “enthusiasm” high in hopes of high turnout.
Conversely, Mexican-American Republican governors Susana Martinez (NM-R) and Brian Sandoval (NV-R) have done the opposite than Rubio, Cruz and RNC in states with large Mexican-American population, Latino voters. Keep in mind that both Brain Sandoval and Susana Martinez did not join the lawsuit against President Obama’s executive action and both have signed a bill to grant driver’s licenses to undocumented workers in their respective states.
It is important to note that, though Gov. Martinez has been critical of “licenses bill” for undocumented workers that did not comply with Real ID federal legislation since she was elected, she had agreed to a new two-tiered :license bill” that will comply with Real ID while keeping driving licenses/permits after those who cannot submit socials security number submit fingerprints. The legislation creates a two-tier system in which citizens and legal residents may obtain Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses. A driver’s authorization card, which would not be accepted as valid federal identification, would be available to undocumented immigrants or any other qualified driver.
The California-born Sandoval is a likable centrist politician of Mexican descent whose political career has been defined by a measure of ideological flexibility. In addition to supporting abortion rights and a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants, he proposed – and last year enacted – the largest tax hike in Nevada history as part of his K-12 education reform initiative. In a blow to national Republicans, Sandoval also embraced the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion in 2012. He has said he considers same-sex marriage to be a settled issue.
As governors, both Sandoval and Martinez signed up for Obamacare and have made education and economy development part of their main governing coalition. Both Sandoval and Martinez were re-elected with over 60% of the vote in 2014, including support from Latino voters. However, to the national RNC platform and presidential race to “repeal Obamacare,” and “anti-amnesty,” both Martinez and Sandoval have become “party-poppers” because they actually want to seek compromises to serve the labor needs of theirs states and Hispanic communities at the state level, and reject any harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric popular with Tea Party groups and supporters of Trump and Ted Cruz – and in fact, by running against the platform of the national party machine of the RNC, both Martinez and Sandoval have become very popular.
Thus, while Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both Cubans, embraced the national party platform of ending DACA, and “anti-Amnesty,” Martinez and Sandoval who are Mexican-Americans from the southwest, stayed away from the party platform and in fact moved on opposite direction to make life easier for Hispanic immigrants and workers with no legal status.
Similarly, Mexican-Americans democrat legislators, too, in California have passed legislations at the state level what Congress has failed to do – pass a series of laws to make Latinos immigrant feel more welcome, just like Nevada and New Mexico have done.
Thus, having Mexican-Americans in positions of leadership in both parties to help Hispanics – native and immigrants -push for specific legislations that address the economic and cultural well-being of Latino/Hispanic communities. So the question is which of these splintered groups after Cleveland will have the interest of Mexican-Americans as their top priority?
Whatever conservative party emerges after this election, can Latinos finally get some respect?
All political identities are created by the by cultural elites. Therefore, it is the responsibility of elites and political leaders to instill you with a romanticized myth-identity that strengthens your cultural psychological being. In this way you consider yourself as part of the myth, or the state. And political parties operate the same way.
Elites and political leaders, therefore, need to tell bourgeois masses that they are the guardians of the “myth,” and the elites need to keep alive the linkage between the hopes of the masses to the political party mantra, or ideology and its propaganda apparatus. Without the guidance of cultural thinkers and elites like Jefferson and Hamilton, it would have been impossible for the Founding Fathers to bring he revolutionary bourgeois message to the masses in the colonies.
Therefore, any Mexican-American political leaders, or cultural elite, who wishes that Mexican-Americans become rulers of their own destiny needs to instill the young with healthy historical accounts in Mexican-Americans to strengthen their cultural character.
What I mean by Latino Cultural ascendency is the what Max Webber called the protestant ascendancy in which cultural and religious acknowledgment by political parties, and business communities, are the foundation for their platform. Which is the main Reason why Scott-Irish have been successful in the South. Too, what I mean by Latino Culture is what conservative scholar Seymour Martin Lipset used as cultural cleavages to explain the genesis of political parties and systems, all of which are based on the culture they seek to represent. A political party cannot represent a group without first acknowledging it cultural cleavages.
But rather than being apologetic about their Latino background, Latino Republicans need to demonstrate pride in their culture and assimilate it into the GOP like Scott-Irish did. Southern “Jacksonenas Scott-Irish never apologized for their culture to be included in the Republican base; as such, Latinos should not deny their cultural as a prerequisite to join the Republican Party. Democrats began losing the Scots-Irish vote when they shifted to courting the black vote. That shift ended the Democrats’ hold on the South, where many Scots-Irish lived.
Andrew Jackson’s revolutionary ideal’s of representation for the “humble” masses over the powerful; this attitude is an identity cultural politics, which it has nothing to do with taxes, and more with cultural values important to one specific group of people. It is these values that are passed from generation to generation regardless of party affiliation.
As a result, the Jacksoneans Scot-Irish bloc did not have to change their values, but rather it was the Republican Party that moved to embrace the values of Scotch-Irish. And this is the formula that needs to be duplicated with Latinos in the South whose culture and history are attached to one bloc of states in Southwest—a Latino Southwestern corridor.
Our Latino southwest corridor stretches from Texas to California and Colorado and Nevada.
Michael Barone, a scholar and historian at the American Enterprise Institute, noticed that the Southern Scott-Irish have shifted parties many times, always going with the party that speaks to their cultural values in the South. It is the respect that both parties pay to this group’s culture that makes the Scott-Irish stick with one party over another.
In a Jeffersonean tradition, being Republican means that the federal government, or the national party, has no right to go around the country telling groups or states how to manage their affairs or culture—States Rights. In a Hamiltonean Republican tradition, the Constitution is the Supreme law of the land. And Latino culture in the US embodies both of these values. So the RNC should have no role in demanding, or favoring, one culture over another; it is the other way around. The Republican party needs to embody and embrace the culture of Latinos.
Thus, according to Barone, Latinos share the same cultural values of other groups, especially Italians. But what is unique about Latinos is that they share a historical attachment to the southwest, especially to areas like Texas, California, and New Mexico where Latinos see themselves as part of the culture of the region, and thus, forming cross-state cultural corridor similar to that of the Jacksonean Scott-Irish corridor in the South.
But Party bosses will like to argue that Latinos can be wooed by superficial party talk alone about taxes while de-emphasizing their background. However, as with Scott-Irish, the ethnic identity never changes. What changes is the party positions in which the party moves its positions to reflect the values of the groups they seek to represent. Therefore, Latinos do not need to change. It is the Republican Party in the Southwest that needs change to embody the conservative Religious, historical, and family values of Latinos. And that is indeed how Thomas Jefferson would have wanted it under the doctrine of States Rights.
So just like “Jacksoneans” Scot-Irish” Appalachia Southerners, Latinos need not apologize for their culture, nor do they need to suppress it to prove their dedication to the Republican Party or allegiances to this nation. There are strong cultural values in the Southwest, where Latinos will be majority the next 20 years, Latinos too will be sole bearers of the Catholic Church in the US. Thus, party bosses within the GOP need to make the Republican Party a Party that reflects the cultural values of Latinos, while at the same time maintain the core conservative tenets, as it has occurred with “Jacksonean” in the South. Though, there is pervasive misconception among the Republican circle that Latinos need to make their ethnic identity less “thick” to be fully embrace by GOP. History shows that ethnic groups strengthen the Political Party when the party formulates the platform around the issues important to a group. This is how the Republican Jacksonean South “Scots-Irish zone” was built. But as Barone points out, it is because of a misconception that Latinos are not like the past wave of immigrants, and a misunderstanding about what it means to be American.
For example, often Republicans party bosses may be confused about what it means to be American and often cite Teddy Roosevelt to make the point that Latinos need to have only one civic allegiance, American exceptionalism. This would true be only if the stringent demand would be applied to all groups, regional or religious, that make up the base of the GOP. But in reality, these demands for American exceptionalism are only for Latinos in the southwest. For instance, Teddy Roosevelt stated that”
There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people—T. Roosevelt
But conservative scholars like Samuel Huntington and Michael Barone argue that the real meaning of American exceptionalism, or creed, is dedication to a “religious common constitutional civic culture,” that is respect and adherences to the institutions of government created under the Constitution. In fact, Samuel Huntington would have detested the anti-federal institutionalism in the South because under Huntington’s views of American-ness, being American meant adherence to institutionalism—institutions created under the US Constitution. Thus, in its purest conservative form, being an American is respect for Constitution. And Latinos, and Latino culture, has never promoted any non-adherence to a common civic culture, or disrespect for the Constitution.
Barone further points out, that the failure of bilingualism is more a result of elite “white” progressive liberals who want America to look like Europe; so bilingualism has nothing to do with being too Latino, or being of one race or another, or being less than other cultures, or where Latinos come from, but rather cultural elites who want America resemble Europe. Furthermore, in its purest Jeffersonean ideal of states’ Rights, states have the right to live according to their own culture—as long as it does not conflict with the Constitution. Consequently, Republicans should not demand that Latinos abandon their Latin roots as a prerequisite to be Republican; that in itself is Unconstitutional since it is these cultural traits that are protected under the Constitution. Consequently, a national Party, has no right to be dictating or regulating cultural behavior among groups. It is the party that needs to reflect the values of the people it seeks to represent; after all, will Republicans ask Jacksoneans Scott-Irish not to be too Scott-Irish in the South. Or will the Republican Party ask Jewish-Americans not to be Jewish too?
Latino Republicans in the Southwest have the right to demand inclusion of their culture in the GOP, and Latino should not apologize for their culture. Latinos, as Barone argues, have similar cultural traits as any other past “stock” of “ethnic white” groups. Additionally, Latino culture embraces all the allegiances that Roosevelt demanded: By the second generation, English become Latinos first language; they move up to middle-income bracket, and adopt middle-class values, and they pledge alliance to the American flag. Thus, Latino values in the Southwest possess American exceptionalism in its core; and Latinos should not apologize for those values. Additionally, the Republican Party needs to embrace these values the same way it has embraced the culture of the rebel Jacksoneans Scott-Irish in the South.
Like in the South, in the southwest there is greater expression of what Jefferson intended under States Rights; states have the right to have their own culture, and neither the federal government, nor a National Party, have right to impose national culture—or suppress one to favor others–other than a “common civic culture”. Jefferson would have agreed that a few states in the same region have the right to bond together to protect their culture and history, so long as long as it doesn’t conflict with the Constitution. Therefore, Latinos have the right to insist that their culture be reflected within the Republican Party, and not be apologetic for it.
Therefore, unless the Republicans fully embrace Latinos, and stop making unrealistic stringent cultural demands not made to others groups, it will surrender the Latino southwestern corridor to Democrats. Latinos love and respect their culture and their history as part of the Southwest. And just like Jacksoneans Scott-Irish, Latinos will go with a party that better embodies their values. Jacksoneans Scott-Irish went on to vote for Jackson, FDR, Truman, or LBJ, and even Clinton. But they always voted with those who respected their values, culture and history. Many would like to say that allowing Latinos to keep their culture is a recipe for a poor class of Americans that can be an easy prey for Democrat government programs. But this is a fallacy. As Barone and Cost underline, the “humble masses” or the Jacksoneans Scott-Irish of the South will come to a Party that will respect their culture and reflects their values, especially in the matters of religion, family and culture.
Whatever new conservative party or political movement that emerges from Cleveland will change the face of American conservatism. Although changes will not be immediate, the hijacking of the Republican Party by Trumpians and Cruz-ers and the “great revolt,” as David Frum called it, has exposed ethnic/racial problems within the Republican party that cannot be overlooked by Latinos who really want to build a conservative political force. And these problems cannot be solved with the same “old” party machine that many argued may be the source of the problem to rise of Trump.
There are some cultural and economic problems, with those who support Trump and Cruz, as Charles Murray underlined in his essay Trump’s America. This problems are associated with the breakdown of middle-class white families and “white culture.” So they see in young Latinos – both natives and immigrants – as part of the problem of collapse of “white society.” And in politics, perceptions is reality. Thus, these Trump supporters very unlikely refuse become part of political movement that puts the interests of Latinos at the forefront of any political discussion.
Alex Gonzalez is a political Analyst and Political Director for Latinos Ready To Vote. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or @