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Hispandering for Dummies
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July 29, 2002, 05:00 AM
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If it`s more reasons why the feeble efforts of Republicans to pander to Hispanics won`t fetch more Hispanic votes you want, listen to what the chieftains of the Hispanic lobby themselves had to say last week, after their grand powwow at the national convention of the Hispanic racist group, the National Council of La Raza, wound down in Miami.

After hearing Democratic Minority Leader Richard Gephardt promise legislation that would grant legal residency to millions of illegal aliens, the self-proclaimed leaders of the aliens announced that they were sick and tired of being courted in superficial ways. Tender phrases and warm embraces won`t win the Hispanic heart anymore, you see; only what the Razistas are calling "substantive policies" will do that.

In fact, they have a point. So far, aside from noises about amnesty for Mexican illegals, President Bush has mainly offered the political equivalents of chocolate-covered cherries and a bunch of petunias to win Hispanics. He`s chattered in Spanish in his weekly radio address, [click here to listen] celebrated Cinco de Mayo in the White House, and festooned the Republican convention with as many Hispanics, blacks, Asians, women, and such other exotic fauna as he could lay his hands on.

But that sort of stuff doesn`t quite cut it, and the Razistas know it. What they want in the form of "substantive policies" goes well beyond such baubles, and to get them they`ll go to the Democrats, who understand pandering as it ought to be done.

To give just a little hint of the sort of pandering the Razistas expect and demand, they released a study of what Hispanics in the United States want. It`s not quite the platform of the Communist Party U.S.A., but the late Gus Hall could probably have lived with it.

Aside from massive Hispanic support for legalizing illegal immigrant workers who live and work in the United States, the report showed that 66 percent of Hispanics believe the federal government should ensure that minorities have equal access to quality jobs, as the Washington Times reported. More than half believe the health care system treats Hispanics unfairly because of racial or ethnic background, and 72 percent said they were unfairly treated because of language. About 45 percent rated education as their most important issue, and nearly 80 percent of registered Hispanic voters endorsed bilingual education—a slap in the face to neo-conservatives who claim Hispanics really don`t want bilingualism.

Taken all together, the poll implies that what Hispanics want politically is an agenda of the left—affirmative action to get them the "quality jobs" they demand, bilingual education that will let them keep their own language and avoid learning English, and anti-discrimination laws that will undermine any effort to encourage assimilation.

Which party do you think is more likely to deliver such an agenda?

If you guessed "Democrat," your guess was the same as the majority of Hispanic voters, who have voted overwhelmingly for the Democratic candidate in every presidential election since 1972. The reason they do so is simply that the Democratic Party has been designed to respond to demands for goodies from the government, for pandering, and the party`s liberal-left ideology has no problem with doing so.

The Republicans are not so designed, and their conservative small-government, low-spending ideology does have problems with it.

There are two possible ways the Republicans could pursue the Hispanic vote, but neither is likely to work:

  1. assume Hispanics are really "social conservatives" or "entrepreneurial conservatives" who share the traditional Republican ideology (that`s what many Republicans have assumed, but the La Raza poll shows, as common sense could have told us, it isn`t true); or  

  1. get rid of traditional Republican ideology and values, become a carbon-copy of the Democrats, and learn how to pander like a Democrat does.

That too is improbable because the base of the GOP won`t go along with it, even if the GOP leadership (ha, ha) would.

In California, where the fight for the Hispanic bloc is bloody and intense, state Republicans are wooing Hispanics mainly by the first tactic. "We offer the best hope for Hispanics," boomed Rep. David Dreier, leader of a drive to attract their votes. "We are building on President George W. Bush`s message of inclusion. Our message of liberty, freedom and economic opportunity is tailored for the Hispanic community."

Indeed, polls in the state show that 82 percent of California Hispanics had a "favorable view" of President Bush this year, well up from last year.

The problem is that the same polls show Hispanic voters supporting Democratic congressional candidates in the state by 53 percent - and only 23 percent supporting Republicans.

If Republicans are going to play the politics of pander, they`ll have to come up with more "substantive policies" than Mr. Dreier, President Bush and their platitudes can promise.

COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

July 29, 2002