Winning the Latino Vote
If the Democrats have the winning formula, why not copy them?


Victor Davis Hanson

4. State spending. Republicans are apparently unaware that their mantra of smaller government is a dog whistle for cutting state spending and employment for the less-well-off. Yet many first-generation Latino-Americans rightly see government employment — the post office, the DMV, the county offices, the schools — as an important bridge into the middle class. When Republicans talk of cutting spending, Latinos feel targeted. Why cut the hours of a DMV employee so that a grandee in Atherton has low enough taxes to afford a third Mercedes? To win the Latino vote, conservatives have to concede bigger deficits, higher social spending, and more government employment. They should examine very carefully the demographics of Jerry Brown’s winning campaign to pass Proposition 30, which just ensured that California will have the highest taxes in the nation and will be able to continue to provide the most generous welfare support and state-employee compensation packages. (As my same friend put it, “If rich guys want to leave California, well, good riddance.”) If Republicans could fashion something like Prop. 30 on the federal level, they might receive as large a percentage of the Latino vote as did the California ballot initiative. If George W. Bush received a larger Latino vote than did Mitt Romney, perhaps it was not because of his halting Spanish, but because of his compassionate conservatism as embodied in No Child Left Behind, an enhanced unfunded prescription-drug Medicare benefit, and a vast increase in annual deficit spending and the size of the federal government. Note how loudly opposing most of what Bush did led to shrinkage in the Latino vote for Romney in 2012.

5. “Them.” Barack Obama brilliantly and cynically created a loose coalition of those with grievances against the supposed white male establishment. It did not matter that some members of this coalition were multimillionaire elites like Elizabeth Warren or affluent Chinese-Americans or Cuban-Americans who are the grandkids of those dispossessed by murderous Communists in Havana or Beijing. The Obama administration’s four-year barrage of “my people,” “punish our enemies,” “a nation of cowards,” the Skip Gates pontification, the Trayvon Martin if-I-had-a-son line, Eric Holder’s charges of racism over the Fast and Furious investigation, the whites-in-Hell slurs from Joseph Lowery, who gave the benediction at Obama’s inauguration in 2008, the hyphenated campaign committees, the executive orders, Sandra Fluke, the constant charges of racism by the liberal media, the weekly outraged Black Caucus — all of that insidiously created a climate of socially acceptable anti-old-white-guy feeling that anyone not of that suspect group could buy into — and anyone of that unfortunate group could buy out of by loudly proclaiming his support for Obama.

Is this not a model for capturing more of the Latino vote? If the Republicans could nominate a non-white-male, then he could rally the forces of non-white-maleness and find a majority coalition based on collective grievances. Chinese-Americans would vote with Japanese-Americans. Rich Cubans would vote with poor Oaxacans. Third-generation upper-middle-class Arab-Americans could even join with Jewish-Americans on the rallying cry that they had grievances against “them.” If a conservative Marco Rubio or Bobby Jindal — or better yet, Nikki Haley — could wage such an us/them campaign, where could the white male voter really go?

Short answer: Nowhere.

If what liberals say is true — that the Republican party is rightly lumped together as too white, too old, too male, and too in control — why not, then, have Republicans run a stereotyped class/race/gender campaign against themselves? Why not point to the supposed mess America has become after 238 years, and say, “We think you can do better”?

Why not “Vote for us, because we don’t like ourselves all that much either”?

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The End of Sparta, a novel about ancient freedom.