California’s Latino voters pushing the Republican Party to extinction

Republicans could be on the verge of sinking into political oblivion in California, especially if they continue to take hard-line positions on illegal immigration, experts say, according to a new article in the Contra Costa Times.

Here are a few excerpts from that article:

Elections across the state this month left Republicans shut out of all statewide offices. Republicans also failed to gain any new congressional seats and lost one in the Assembly.

The failure was in stark contrast to gains made by Republicans across the country, sending the state GOP into a period of self-reflection over the future solvency of the party.

Latino backlash against Republicans drove the debacle, as illegal immigration occupied a central place in the gubernatorial campaign — first in the GOP primary when Steve Poizner pushed Meg Whitman to the right by accusing her of being insufficiently hard line. Even Gov. Pete Wilson, the face of the unpopular 1994 ballot measure Prop. 187, made an appearance in a Whitman ad, saying she would be “tough as nails” on illegal immigrants.

Latinos ultimately flocked in droves to Gov.-elect Jerry Brown, a Democrat who captured 80 percent of the Latino vote compared with 15 percent for Whitman, according to a USC-Los Angeles Times postelection poll.

The trends for Republicans aren’t forgiving, either. With California and the rest of the country amid the strongest immigrant wave in a century, voters are increasingly less white and more prone to support politicians who are sensitive to the needs of new populations, experts said.

Latinos, who made up 22 percent of the midterm turnout in California, increasingly see the Republican brand as toxic. More than one-third of Latinos said they would never consider voting Republican, while another 31 percent said Republicans should move closer to the center and nominate less conservative candidates.


The L.A. Times just posted an Op-ed with a few ideas as to how the California GOP might survive:

• A change of position on providing a path to citizenship. The party should strongly favor securing the borders against illegal immigration; that’s a matter of defending our national sovereignty and integrity. But that position doesn’t need to be in conflict with extending eventual citizenship to some of those who are currently living here illegally.

Just as the Republican Party was the Northern standard-bearer for the abolition of slavery in the 1850s and 1860s, so the California Republican Party could advocate for citizenship for honest working men and women who have come to the U.S. to make better lives for themselves and their families.

According to the Los Angeles Times/USC postelection survey, about 8 in 10 Latinos, half the independents and even 4 in 10 Republicans support a path to citizenship. Even greater percentages support other ideas for integrating illegal immigrants. Republicans are driving away Latinos — nearly a quarter of the voters — with their anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric.

• Getting on board with green jobs and environmental conservation. By arguing that people must pick between the environment and economic development, Republicans are creating a false choice. And voters know it.

California Republicans have made fighting environmental regulation a cause. But plenty of people, including George Shultz and the late David Packard, have demonstrated that you can be a rock-ribbed Republican and also favor preserving and enhancing the environment. Of course, environmentalism has to be balanced against other competing interests, such as healthy agriculture, water supplies for cities and reasonable growth in and around urban areas. But pragmatic environmentalism could win the party votes.

• Developing a bench. The party should start grooming young, bright, articulate Republicans throughout the state. It should teach them about practical politics, polling and other insider skills. It should train them in how to talk to reporters and how to think on their feet and answer questions without betraying their ignorance. It should teach them how to talk to ordinary people without sounding as if they’re preaching or reciting talking points. In other words, the GOP should do what big-time college athletic programs do: recruit.

• Changing the party’s stance on abortion. There’s a way to move to the center on this issue. The party could support a woman’s right to choose in line with Roe vs. Wade without endorsing or even supporting abortion. The idea that abortion is a moral choice is not incompatible with the idea that this moral choice must be made by individuals, not the state. The party could also focus on reducing the number of abortions by supporting rather than opposing family planning. Barry Goldwater did.

The party’s goal should be to build a coalition based on an overarching goal of reducing the number of abortions rather than wasting breath yammering about abstinence and opposing sex education for teens.

• Sounding sensible, not strident. The problem with the tea party rhetoric is that it sounds like the ravings of a crazy old uncle who really ought to be locked in the attic. The vast majority of California voters are moderate, independent-minded, practical people. They don’t much care if an idea comes from a Democrat or a Republican. They care if it works.

About Zorro

Yes, Zorro is gay. Zorro is gay in San Francisco, black in South Africa, an Asian in Europe, a Chicano in San Ysidro, an anarchist in Spain, a Palestinian in Israel, a Mayan Indian in the streets of San Cristobal, a Jew in Germany, a Gypsy in Poland, a Mohawk in Quebec, a pacifist in Bosnia, a single woman on the Metro at 10pm, a peasant without land, a gang member in Santa Ana, an unemployed worker, an unhappy student and, of course, a good government advocate in Anaheim. Zorro is all the exploited, marginalized, oppressed minorities resisting and saying `Enough'. He or she is every minority who is now beginning to speak and every majority that must shut up and listen. He or she is every untolerated group searching for a way to speak. Everything that makes power and the good consciences of those in power uncomfortable -- this is Zorro.