Memo From Middle America |The “Steve Pearce Model” Won't Solve The GOP's Alleged "Hispanic Problem"

In the midst of current Conservatism Inc. Hispano-hysteria, the Wall Street Journal has been touting the example of Representative Steve Pearce (R-New Mexico). [One GOP Lawmaker Shows How to Woo Latino Voters, By Neil King,  March 11, 2013 |PDF]

(Oddly, proclaiming New Mexico messiahs is not new for Conservatism Inc.  Back in 1997, it was William T. Redmond, the GOP victor in the special election to replace UN Ambassador Bill Richardson. But as Peter Brimelow and Edwin S. Rubenstein pointed out in their 1997 Electing A New People cover story in National Review

What happened was that the Democratic vote was split, by a former Democrat running as the candidate of New Mexico's enviro-Stalinist Green Party, who got 17 per cent of the vote. This, and not a mass conversion of Hispanics, won the seat. Rep. Redmond will do well to hold it in 1998.

(He did not.)

Pearce is relatively tough on immigration (NumbersUSA rating A-, career grade C, indicating he has improved in recent years). Yet in this 2012 election, he got a higher-than-Republican-average share (42%) of the Hispanic vote in his district.

Congressman Pearce does not, as has been noted on VDARE.com although downplayed by the WSJ, win the majority of Hispanics. But he is at the high end for a Republican.

So is Steve Pearce showing us a new model for winning the Hispanic vote? He’s certainly been getting enough Main Stream Media [MSM] attention. Besides the Wall Street Journal , he’s been featured on Fox News Latino, and has been interviewed on CSPAN and on the Laura Ingraham show.

What’s Pearce’s secret? Is it caving on amnesty?

No! Pearce (bless him!) opposes amnesty, believing it would encourage more illegal immigration.

Pearce is the only Republican in New Mexico’s congressional delegation. The other four, all Democrats, are Senator Martin Heinrich (immigration grade: D); Senator Thomas Udall (immigration grade:  F-); Third District Representative Ben R. Lujan (grade: F); 1st District Representative Michelle Grisham (no immigration grade yet, she’s new in Congress).

Pearce’s Second District is the country’s sixth-largest, at 70,000 square miles. But Pearce gets around, logging 100,000 miles annually traveling around the district and meeting with people.

And this has paid off, apparently. The district has a slim majority (52%) of registered Hispanic voters. Only 34% of the district’s voters are registered Republicans. Nevertheless, Pearce is now in his fifth term.

Pearce, who was a C-130 pilot in the Vietnam War, operated an oilfield business for many years, served in the New Mexico legislature, and winning a seat in Congress in 2002.

Reading about Pearce, and watching his interviews, I get a good impression of a man who cares for his district. He attributes his electoral success to getting out into the district and meeting the people. It’s “no secret, just hard work,” he says.

Pearce makes it clear that the border is no longer secure and poses a simple test—unless the price of illegal drugs skyrockets, the border is not secure! [Time for Federal Government to Take Action on Border, by Steve Pearce, April 11, 2011 ]

Although Pearce opposes amnesty, he does believe more workers are needed. Why? Well, apparently, employers have told him that.

Nevertheless, Pearce does understand what has been pointed out repeatedly here at VDARE.COM: an amnesty is an amnesty—with or without the path to citizenship.

In other words, if illegal aliens are allowed to remain in the country, that’s an amnesty. Pearce is well aware that many of them come to work, not to become citizens.

So Pearce promotes the idea of two streams of legal residents—one for those intending to gain citizenship and the other for those who simply come to work.

(Of course, any such serious reform would have to include a closing of the anchor baby loophole and other citizenship-related complications, which, for the most part aren’t being discussed today).

When Laura Ingraham interviewed Pearce, she pointed out that polling indicates that 75% of Latinos want more government involvement in their lives. Pearce agreed, saying that they have a “natural inclination in that direction”.

That means the congressman does not believe Hispanics are small-government “natural conservatives.”

Nevertheless, Pearce sees himself as presenting conservative principles to Latinos, asserting that, although they don’t trust the GOP, “they won’t like us until they know us”. Although he does not speak Spanish, he uses interpreters and has a Spanish section on his website.

OK, Representative Pearce has done well in his district, which is admirable. And he’s done it with old-fashioned politicking, not the new style of treasonous sell-out Hispandering made notorious by gated-community blowhards like George W. Bush and John McCain.

And Pearce does have that A- from Numbers USA. I think there is a proportion of Hispanics (though not a majority) who will vote for the GOP even without pandering. It’s interesting that in November many Hispanic constituents in the Second District voted for both Barack Obama and Steve Pearce. Probably his personal attention made the difference for many.

But is the Pearce approach a long-range model for the whole country?

Unmentioned by the Wall Street Journal’s Neil King, New Mexico is an unusual state, and not only because ties in local elections can be settled by a hand of poker.

Despite its large Hispanic population, New Mexico currently has a lower foreign-born percentage than any of the other Border States. According to FAIR’s statistics, while 10% of the state’s population is foreign-born, 13.4% of Arizona’s is foreign-born, 16.5% of Texas is and 27.2% of California’s.

New Mexico (not named for the country of Mexico, but for Mexico City and the region roundabout) has had an established Spanish population since the 1500s. When the U.S. took over in the 1840s, the descendants of Spanish colonists, called Hispanos, became U.S. citizens. (Linda Chavez, the notorious "conservative" immigration enthusiast, descends from these Spanish colonists on her father’s side). There is a dialect, New Mexican Spanish, spoken in the state which retains some archaic features no longer used in most other parts of the Spanish-speaking world.

Still, these descendants of colonial Spaniards are mostly in northern New Mexico. In Steve Pearce’s district in the south, Hispanics are perhaps more likely to be descended from more recent immigrants from Mexico. If you listen to his interview, notice that he refers to immigrants and relatives of immigrants.

And in New Mexico, as in the rest of the country, the Hispanic population is growing. Along with this numerical growth, there is a strengthening of Hispanic identity—and a thirst for power. For example:

For the first time in the state's history, the Hispanic numbers surpassed those of whites, according to Census data. Hispanics now represent 46.3% of New Mexico's population, or 953,403, a 24.6% increase. Non-Hispanic whites are 40.5% of the population, or 833,810, a growth of 2.5%. "A lot of the growth in the Latino community is really attributed to birth," said Liany Arroyo, associate director for education and children's policy at the National Council of La Raza, a Washington organization that lobbies for Hispanic Americans. "We know that the Latino community as a whole has larger families on average." [Brookings Institution Demographer William] Frey says of New Mexico: "Always a heavily Hispanic state, its loss of whites suggests this will be the case well into the future."

Hispanic population swells past white population in N.M. Melanie Eversley, USA Today, March 16, 2011

In Pearce’s five congressional elections, his percentage of the overall vote has hovered between 55-60%, receiving 59.1% this last go-round in 2012. But how long can he keep this up? The Democrats are planning to target him in 2014.

And with or without Representative Pearce the future for the GOP doesn’t look great in New Mexico.

In the New Mexico Legislature, Democrats outnumber Republicans in both the House and Senate.

True, the state has a Republican governor Susan Martinez, the country’s “first Latina governor”. She won admiration of many of us by her fight opposition to driver’s licenses for illegals. But then she criticized Romney for being too tough on illegals [!!!], she supported amnesty and pandering to Hispanics, and she believes that Hispanic citizens need Hispanic politicians to represent them. (See my New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez Wants Amnesty and for GOP to Pander to Hispanics ).

The presidential trend in New Mexico is definitely going against the GOP. While the GOP candidate won the state in 1976, 1980, 1984 and 1988, the Democrats have been triumphant in the last 5 of 6 elections, with the GOP’ last victory in 2004.

In the 2012 presidential election Obama beat Romney in the state by 52.99% to 42.84%. (Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, the state’s former governor, got 3.55%).

Regardless of the future of Representative Pearce and his district, New Mexico (absent an immigration moratorium) is turning blue.

Besides, how can the GOP leadership hold him up as an example if they aren’t even following his model?

The GOP leadership promotes the Obama/ Rubio Amnesty/ Immigration Surge and Hispandering. This spells doom for the GOP—and the historic American nation.

As I have argued repeatedly, the GOP doesn't really have a "Hispanic problem"—it has a white working class problem.

Does any prominent Republican leader have the courage to point this out—and act upon it?

American citizen Allan Wall (email him) moved back to the U.S.A. after many years residing in Mexico. Allan's wife is Mexican, and their two sons are bilingual. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his Mexidata.info articles are archived here; his News With Views columns are archived here; and his website is here.