John: I agree completely. I was trying to pour cold water on the simplistic idea, that I mistakenly attributed to you and Jonah, that nominating candidates with an “o” or a “z” at the end of their name would magically attract votes from Americans of Latin origin. Your contention that the GOP should be “fielding candidates like Cruz who exemplify the potential of a common American culture against the Democrats’ stress on multiculturalism,” while it’s been unsuccessful with black voters, holds some promise among Hispanics. To that degree, my caution that “don’t imagine he’s [Cruz] going to persuade any more undecided Hispanic voters to pull the lever for the GOP than any other white conservative would” may have been unnecessarily pessimistic.
An important element in this approach is to demonstrate that an American national identity is not only better able than multiculturalism to reconcile subordinate ethnic identities under its canopy but also offers better life chances to all ethnic groups because it minimizes the cultural differences between them rather than freezing or even exaggerating those differences.
This is a message that can indeed resonate with ordinary Hispanic American voters — if it can get past their elites, who are lopsidedly tribalist and chauvinist. By cutting immigration and allowing the weakened, but still significant, forces of assimilation to work, a smaller and smaller share of Hispanic voters will feel the need to rely on and defer to intermediaries like La Raza and MALDEF — and thus be more likely to judge the GOP message on its own merits.