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June 06, 2007

Hispanics and the GOP: Liberal Values Don't Stop At The Rio Grande

Heather MacDonald skewers the idea that Mexican immigrants are just dying to vote GOP, if only we'd permit them to.

George Bush’s political strategists have long promoted amnesty for illegal aliens as a device for increasing the Republican vote among Hispanics. They also warn that denying rights to illegal aliens will hurt the GOP. A Hispanic backlash in California after Proposition 187 (the 1994 voter initiative that denied illegal aliens many publicly funded services) turned the state from red to blue, they claim; a similar rout awaits the party if it does not embrace liberal immigration policies.

There is scant evidence for either of these ideas. The 1986 amnesty signed by President Reagan did not trigger a Latino surge into the Republican Party. And California’s Hispanics leaned as strongly Democratic before Prop. 187 as after it. Hispanic voting patterns in California have held steady since 1988—they vote approximately two-to-one for Democratic presidential candidates. California’s shift from red to blue would have happened with or without Prop. 187, as defense-industry whites left the state, replaced by liberal high-tech professionals, and as the Hispanic portion of the electorate tripled from 7 percent to 21 percent.

“But Hispanics are Republicans waiting to emerge,” counter the Bush strategists. Socially conservative on homosexuality and abortion, Hispanics just need to be invited into the party by an amnesty and not scared off by immigration enforcement. This “social values” argument has been around since the early 1980s, and it’s still awaiting confirmation. The majority of Hispanics vote their perceived economic interests, rather than their social values (evangelical Hispanics may be an exception to this rule). Blacks are equally conservative on gay rights and other favorite liberal crusades, and that doesn’t affect their allegiance to the Democratic party.

Bonus fact: Welfare use actually rises among Hispanic immigrants between the second- and third-generation. Why? No idea, but I'd guess it might have something to do with the successful assimilition of immigrants into liberal racial-identity/entitlement-culture politics. Not really the melting pot we learned about in third grade.



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posted by Ace at 11:25 PM

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