Raul Damas — a smart pollster and a nice guy — HREF=”http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/03_08_03_corner-archive.asp#012012″>disagrees
with my views on the so-called Hispanic vote.
Overly large political shorthand can obscure real targets of
opportunity. Raul mentions “pro-life voters.” They are just as
non-monolithic as are “Hispanic voters.” Congressman Dennis Kucinich
(Dem-Ohio) can readily target “seamless garment” pro-life, anti-death
penalty Catholic voters while President Bush would be wiser to seek
pro-life, pro-death penalty conservative Protestant and Catholic voters.
In a long-ago piece for NRO, HREF=”http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-boulet082101.shtml”>”Assimilation,
not Amnesty”, I quoted from a Wall Street Journal story on
conflicts in New York City between more established Puerto Rican immigrants
and Mexican newcomers: “the nation’s Hispanic communities are not a
cohesive unit. Often, they are united by little more than Spanish and a
Census Bureau definition.”
Yet “one size fits all” Hispanic politics led Republican political
consultants in the late ’90’s to decree that the way for the GOP to win the
Hispanic vote was to make Puerto Rico our 51st state. Never mind that
Mexican Americans and Cuban Americans had little interest in Puerto Rico.
By contrast, the Castro dictatorship is not much of an issue among
Hispanics in Texas or California. But Janet Reno’s decision to send Elian
Gonzalez back to Casto’s Cuba HREF=”http://www.sptimes.com/News/110500/Worldandnation/Elian_swings_Cuban_vo.shtml”>caused
Florida’s Cuban American voters to back Bush in 2000. Elian, not Spanish
campaign speeches, made George Bush our President.
Finally, there are some Hispanic voters who intensely resent getting
campaign literature addressed to them in Spanish. These
highly-assimilated, English-speaking Hispanics are natural
Republicans. Today’s bipartisan Spanish-first campaign style repels those
folks. Does the GOP truly wish its message to be “assimilation is a bad