Winning elections is about addition, not subtraction - Albuquerque Journal

Winning elections is about addition, not subtraction

SAN DIEGO – Sometimes you’ll have a disagreement with someone, but you’re not that far apart.

My argument with Dallas-based radio host Chris Salcedo, who has a weekend show on The Blaze network, is not like that. On one issue, the gap is enormous: How should Republicans approach Hispanic voters? The question is tearing the GOP apart, as some candidates engage in Hispanic outreach and others disparage the very idea.

What makes the difference of opinion all the more frustrating is that Salcedo, who is also the executive director of the Conservative Hispanic Society, and I agree on three other items:

  • Hispanics are more conservative than most people realize, even though many groups that supposedly profess to represent them are liberal.
  • Hispanics have become rudderless and powerless, and would be better served if they were in play politically and the parties competed for their votes, rather than being taken for granted by Democrats and written off by Republicans.
  • Liberalism undermines Hispanics, just as it does African-Americans, by fostering dependence, avoiding accountability, lowering standards and excusing bad behavior.

Salcedo talks about how Hispanics are firmly ensconced in the American mainstream. “Hispanics reflect the American culture in general,” he said. “This whole idea of identity politics is becoming such a relic. I don’t see the Hispanic culture as any different from the American culture.”

What Salcedo does see is a clear difference between the parties and what they offer Hispanics – and everyone else. “It’s Democrats and liberals that keep the emphasis on what divides us, and not what unites us,” he said. “Democrats try to get Hispanics into the fold so they can ignore them later, in between elections, which is what happens.”

For him, there is only one logical choice for Hispanics. He just wishes the party did a better job of making that case.

“Republicans have a good message,” he said. “But they don’t know how to communicate to Hispanics.”

Which brings us to the argument.

Salcedo believes Republicans shouldn’t make special accommodations to reach Hispanics and that doing so might backfire.

“When it comes to pandering to Hispanics, my advice is: Don’t do it,” he said. “Republicans shouldn’t buy the Democratic spin that Hispanics are stupid. They should talk to them like they’re Americans and explain why their message is a winner.”

Salcedo’s message is strong.

“Hispanics are just like everyone else,” he said. “The assumption that we have to talk to Hispanics this way or that way is an insult to me,as an educated Latino.”

For my part, I am not insulted when a political party treats me like it wants my support. I feel insulted when a candidate assumes that he doesn’t have to work for my vote. When a politician tries to woo a farmer, union member or soccer mom, we call it “courting.” But when he does the same thing to Hispanics, it becomes “pandering.” Why?

Right-wingers might say George W. Bush was pandering to Hispanics when he spoke Spanish, bought ads on Spanish-language radio and TV, and campaigned in Democratic strongholds. Bush got 34 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2000 and 40 percent in 2004.

Salcedo is right that Hispanics are like other Americans. But here is where he goes wrong: What he shrugs off as “identity politics” is a proud American tradition. We want to be part of it. And the Republican Party should want that too if it means that Hispanics will give the GOP a closer look. Winning elections is about addition, not subtraction.

For generations, Hispanics have been told to wait their turn and that, one day, their population in the United States would be so large that they would – just like the Germans, Irish, Italians and Jews before them – be catered to.

Now we have the numbers, but other Americans are scared of becoming irrelevant. So, suddenly, we’re told that the rules have changed and all future catering orders will be canceled.

And you wonder why many Hispanics are confused and upset. Wouldn’t you be?

Salcedo and I may never agree on the proper way for Republicans to approach Hispanic voters. But surely we agree on this: It’s better to be acknowledged than ignored, and better to be respected than antagonized.

That’s not politics. That’s common sense.

The trouble is, when you examine the former, you won’t find much of the latter.


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

Ad Tango

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
Ignoring a crime can result in heartbreaking damage to ...
Columnists
"The world is a dangerous place ... "The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because o ...
2
Feds need to finally get it together on marijuana ...
Columnists
Quick. Do you know if marijuana ... Quick. Do you know if marijuana is legal in your state? Is it approved for medical, or even recreati ...
3
Soft-peddling root cause of murder won't stop it
Columnists
Sad to say, we keep killing ... Sad to say, we keep killing each other. New FBI statistics show that, even though we practiced wides ...
4
The nation's fixation on the search for Gabby Petito
Columnists
There are hundreds of thousands of ... There are hundreds of thousands of people reported missing in the United States each year. Last year ...
5
UNM, city join to spur NM entrepreneurship
ABQnews Seeker
The University of New Mexico and ... The University of New Mexico and the City of Albuquerque are partnering on a new "Right to Start" in ...
6
Should we honor a killer's every last request - ...
Columnists
A medium rare rib eye steak, ... A medium rare rib eye steak, a baked potato with butter and sour cream, an iceberg lettuce salad, ga ...
7
CRIME AND JUSTICE: Do we need more - or ...
Columnists
Media has too many knee-jerk reactions ... Media has too many knee-jerk reactions to possible 'hate crimes'
8
Once again, history matters and so does political reality
Columnists
Here we go again! In the ... Here we go again! In the aftermath of the mismanaged U.S. military pullout in Afghanistan, calls to ...
9
NM wind project of historic size nearly complete
Business
Renewable power developer Pattern Energy is ... Renewable power developer Pattern Energy is nearing completion of a mammoth wind project in east cen ...