The Corner

The ‘Latino Opportunity’ and the ‘Latino Problem’

Leslie Sanchez has an op-ed in today’s Journal that combines banalities about the need for better outreach with condescending twaddle about hard work and family values. But her conclusion for Republicans, “That work begins when they recognize they have a ‘Latino opportunity’ instead of a ‘Latino problem,’” is incomplete. Yes, the GOP does have an opportunity to increase its share of the Hispanic vote, but it also faces persistent problems that argue against immigration measures that would massively increase said vote.

Tom Edsall’s post at the NYT site last night highlights part of that problem (h/t Mickey Kaus). In basically agreeing with the “makers vs. takers” analysis (though he sides with the “takers”), Edsall looks at a Pew survey from last year on “Views of ‘Capitalism’ and ‘Socialism’” which finds that Hispanics “hold decisively negative attitudes toward capitalism, 55–32.” The percentage of Hispanics who expressed a positive reaction to capitalism was the lowest of any group reported in the survey, lower than blacks, lower than 18–29-year-olds, lower than liberal Democrats, lower than under $30,000 earners, lower even than those who support Occupy Wall Street. And the Hispanic spread between positive and negative reactions to capitalism was by far the largest of any group that opposed capitalism, at 23 points, versus ten points for blacks, eight points for less than $30,000, two points for Occupy Wall Street supporters, and just one point for liberal Democrats and 18–29s. Hispanics also had one of the most positive reactions to socialism, after liberal Democrats, blacks, and 18–29s.

The point is not that there are no votes to be had among voters the government has chosen to classify as “Hispanic.” Rather, barring special circumstances like war (part of the reason Bush’s share reached 38–40 percent), there’s a ceiling of probably one-third of the group whom Republicans can win — tellingly, the same as the share of respondents to the Pew survey who expressed a positive reaction to capitalism. The best — the only — long-term strategy for increasing the share of Hispanics open to the GOP message is to stop the Left’s social-engineering project known as mass immigration, end the Left’s use of the law to create a racial caste system, and get back to encouraging our society’s strong assimilative forces instead of hindering them.

Otherwise, conservatives will just be following a political version of GM’s strategy for the Chevy Volt — losing money on every car they sell, but making it up on volume.

Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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