The Corner

Melville Calling

May I beg a note of clarification from Brother Brookhiser?

Rick, why do you refer to “W’s foolish pursuit of the Great Brown Whale, the Hispanic vote?” Because you believe W. is pursuing the Hispanic vote incompetently? Or because you believe he shouldn’t be pursuing it at all? And if the latter, why? Bcause he has no business addressing himself to Hispanics as Hispanics, that is, in encouraging them to form themselves up into yet another self-conscious minority? Or because he has no realistic hope of winning the Hispanic vote?

Bear in mind that I compose these words in a state that has absorbed something like eight million Hispanics in the last dozen years. Ronald Reagan’s California was demographically and culturally of a piece with the Midwest, a kind of Iowa-on-the-Pacific, remaining, as late as 1970, ninety percent white. But the Golden State today? Either the GOP learns how to attract about 40 percent of the Hispanic vote (or, if you prefer, of Hispanic voters) or it will never, ever win another statewide race.

So what’s the right way to think about this problem?

Peter Robinson — Peter M. Robinson is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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