Don Sipple, a savvy Republican filmmaker, was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s media consultant in the 2003 recall campaign for governor. In 1994, he created the controversial “They Keep Coming” anti-immigration television ad for Pete Wilson’s re-election campaign for governor.
By Don Sipple
Special to Calbuzz
Among the self evident truths we are dealing with this week is the fact that Judge Sonia Sotomayor will be confirmed and elevated to Justice of the United States Supreme Court and the national GOP is still in the wilderness after two successive drubbings at the polls.
In nominating Sotomayor, President Obama has once again exhibited his gift for deft political maneuvering while Congressional Republicans continue to demonstrate why they are not only tone deaf, but have a death wish to boot.
In spite of representing a border state and being a co-sponsor of immigration reform legislation, Sen. John McCain garnered only 31 % of Latino voters in 2008. Women gave him just 43% of their votes. It’s difficult to see how the GOP benefits — even in the slightest — by opposing Judge Sotomayor. Instead they should celebrate her, praise Ms. Sotomayor’s personal narrative and move to have her confirmed by acclamation.
What the national GOP must learn is that while it is the duty of the opposition party to oppose, they must do so selectively and choose wisely the ground on which to attack.
But instead of picking their spots with a strategic purpose in mind, the GOP substitutes tactics for strategy and carps about everything. They have yet to land a blow on the new president.
Republicans need to understand that this is 2009. The world has changed, the electorate has changed and attitudes have changed. In the minds of voters, posturing and posing is no substitute for problem solving. And voters are well aware that there are plenty of problems begging for solutions.
Fifteen years ago, the costs of providing services to California’s then 2.5 million illegal immigrants was putting pressure on the state’s treasury, already reeling from declining revenues due to a deep recession. Thus a legitimate public policy debate ensued regarding the federal government’s failure to secure the border and to reimburse California and other states for costs borne by those states.
Certainly there were political risks in engaging on this issue back then. But Gov. Pete Wilson was re-elected comfortably in 1994, receiving 38% of Latino votes, even though today those who rewrite history believe his leadership on the issue of illegal immigration was a death knell to Republicans among Latino voters in California.
When there is an honest pubic policy disagreement, intelligently debated, it is unlikely there will be lasting political damage. Recently, the subject of drivers’ licenses for illegal immigrants has stirred passions on both sides, but to my knowledge it has not caused a wholesale revolt among Latino voters. In fact, during the recall election of 2003, public polling showed over 60% of Latino voters in California opposed to drivers’ licenses for illegal immigrants.
Republicans need to recognize and respect the rise of Latinos as a potent political force in the nation and several fast-growing states. By nominating Sonia Sotomayor to the highest court in the land, President Obama has made her a symbol of Hispanic pride and culture.
The GOP would be wise to salute her instead of sliming her.