“What the president’s campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote, and that strategy worked.”
Thus did political analyst Mitt Romney identify the cause of his defeat in a call to disconsolate contributors.
Republicans piled on. “Completely unhelpful,” Gov. Bobby Jindal told Wolf Blitzer. We don’t advance the “debate by insulting folks.”
“A terrible thing to say,” Gov. Chris Christie told Joe Scarborough. “You can’t expect to be the leader of all the people and be divisive.”
Oh. Was not Abe Lincoln at least mildly “divisive”? Did not FDR insult Wall Street folks by calling them “money changers in the temple of our civilization”? Was Ronald Reagan a uniter not a divider when he said, “Let the bloodbath begin!” and mocked “welfare queens”?
And Harry Truman, did he not insult and divide – and win?
“I just think it’s nuts,” Newt Gingrich told ABC’s Martha Raddatz of Romney’s remark, kicking him again in an Austin TV interview:
“Governor Romney’s analysis … is insulting and profoundly wrong. … We didn’t lose Asian-Americans because they got any gifts. He did worse with Asian-Americans than he did with Latinos. This is the hardest-working and most successful ethnic group in America, OK, they ain’t into gifts.”
Now, Newt does have a point.
What explains the GOP wipeout among Asian-Americans? Folks of Korean, Chinese and Japanese descent have a legendary work ethic, are academic overachievers and are possessed of an entrepreneurial spirit. They should be natural Republicans.
But Mitt also has a point.
Consider America’s largest, fastest-growing minority.
Hispanics constituted 10 percent of the electorate, up from 7.5 in 2008. But Mitt got only 27 percent of that, the lowest of any Republican presidential candidate.
This, we are told, was because of Mitt’s comment about “self-deportation” and GOP support for a border fence and sanctions on employers who hire illegals. If only we embrace the Dream Act and provide a path to citizenship – amnesty – the GOP’s problem is solved.
The Republican capacity for self-delusion is truly awesome.
Set aside the idealized Hispanic of the Republican consultants’ vision. What does the real Hispanic community look like today?
Let us consider only native-born Hispanics, U.S. citizens.
According to Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, which analyzed Census Bureau statistics from 2012:
- More than one in five Hispanic citizens lives in poverty.
- One in four Hispanic-American men 25 to 55 is out of work.
- More than half of all Hispanic women 25-55 are unmarried.
- Half of all Hispanic households with children are headed by an unmarried woman, and 55 percent depend on welfare programs.
These numbers do not improve with time, as they did with the Irish, Italian, Polish, Jewish and German immigrants who poured into the United States between 1890 and 1920. Third-generation Hispanics do worse than second-generation Hispanics in all the above categories.
This is a huge community being sucked into the morass of a mammoth welfare state. Consider a typical Hispanic household with children.
It is headed by an unmarried woman who receives food stamps and public housing or rent supplements to feed and house her children.
Her kids are educated free from Head Start to K-12 and fed by school breakfast and lunch programs. Should they graduate high school, Pell Grants and student loans are there for college.
For cash, mom gets welfare checks. If she takes a job, she will receive an earned income tax credit to supplement her income. If she loses her job, she can get 99 weeks of unemployment checks.
For health care, there is Medicaid and Obamacare. And like 45 percent of all Hispanic households, she has no federal income tax liability.
Why should this woman vote for a party that will cut taxes she does not pay, but reduce benefits she does receive?
Rename Romney’s gifts “government services,” writes Aaron Blake citing a Washington Post poll, and one discovers that 67 percent of Latinos favor “a larger government with more services.”
These are big-government people. And why should they not be?
According to Heather Mac Donald, writing in National Review, a 2011 survey found that California Hispanics by four to one objected more to the GOP on class-warfare grounds – the party “favors only the rich,” Republicans are “selfish” – than to the GOP stand on immigration.
Writes Mac Donald: California’s Hispanics will likely prove more decisive in passing Proposition 30, to raise state income taxes to 13.3 percent, the highest level in the nation, than to Obama’s victory.
Nor is this unusual. Populist programs to stick it to the rich have always had an appeal south of the border.
There are 50 million Hispanics in America today. California is lost to the GOP. Nevada and Colorado are slipping away. Arizona and Texas are next up on the block.
With the U.S. Hispanic population in 2050 projected to reach 130 million, the acolytes of Karl Rove have their work cut out for them.