How the CA GOP Could Further Alienate Latino Voters


All you really need to know about why California Republicans have been so incredibly successful in utterly alienating Latino voters may be found in a dense and obtuse piece offered up over at CalWatchdog last week by John Seiler.

Seiler was responding to a Calbuzz piece, in which we quoted Stu Spencer, Ruben Barrales and Marty Wilson, and pointed to their views as crucially important, at a time when state GOP leaders are making a new effort to end a generation of failure of attracting Latinos to their party.

Rather than dealing with the substance of what these leading Republicans said, however, Seiler chose to treat our piece as an attack, doubling down on the head-in-the-sand perspective that has put the GOP in their current fix, portraying Calbuzz as partisan advocates and acting like a guy with a flamethrower in a field filled with straw men.

At least he wasn’t defensive.

If we were partisan Democrats, we’d strongly encourage Republicans to follow Seiler’s advice to the letter. But we’re not – we’re just committed to the notion that a strong two-party system in California, with intelligent policies engaged in principled struggle, is actually good for democracy. Which is why we feel compelled to respond to Seiler’s rantings, which also got big play at FlashReport.

Seiler, an editorial writer for 19 years at the Orange County Register, begins with this chestnut:

CalBuzz today runs a story about why Latinos supposedly are rebuffing the Republican Party, continuing to vote at least 70 percent Democratic. Their conclusion: Republicans should be a lot more like Democrats. Actually, the opposite is true: Republicans have been too much like Democrats.

Of course, Calbuzz never suggested Republicans should be more like Democrats. We did say that smart Republican strategists believe the California GOP will continue to repel Latino voters until the party comes up with a plan to allow undocumented immigrants living and working here to become legal residents.

But not until Seiler has disgorged himself of 1,540 words does he even mention Stu Spencer, whose illuminating 1997 memo to Republicans was the genesis of our 1,116-word piece. And then Seiler doesn’t even try to respond to Spencer, he merely dismisses him as out of touch with today’s realities.

The reason Republicans are losing standing with the California electorate, Seiler argues is that:

The party was poisoned for seven years by the far-left policies of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who took his marching orders from his wife, Maria Shriver, a top-level Democrat from the Kennedy Royal Democratic Family. That was enough to dissuade anyone, Latino or not, from becoming an elephant.

But attacking Schwarzenegger as a Shriver tool is just Seiler’s Loony Tunes warm-up. He goes on to attack practically every major-office candidate the Republicans have run for decades: Dan Lungren, Carly Fiorina, Bill Jones, Matt Fong, John Seymour, Michael Huffington, Tom Campbell, Dick Mountjoy and Meg Whitman – all of whom were either inept, liberal or both.

Seiler spends a lot of time defending the GOP’s stances on English-only (with special emphasis on Canada), a border fence, opposition to higher education for Latino children, and stop-and-question laws (which he seems to oppose on libertarian grounds). But on the central issue raised by Calbuzz – and which lies at the heart of the matter for concerned GOP strategists – a path to citizenship, Seiler has little to say.

CalBuzz: “no path to citizenship for the undocumented.This is the same problem. The U.S. Census Department just reported that from 2006 to 2010, just four years, median incomes crashed in California by a shocking 9 percent. Unemployment remains stuck at 12.1 percent and rising.

With citizens unable to find decent work with good pay, is it surprising that the unemployed and under-employed don’t want more new citizens competing with them for vanishing jobs?

This, obviously, is no response at all – just another dimwit sidestep – leaving unanswered our point that until Republicans offer a means for the undocumented to become legalized, Latinos simply won’t hear any other message the GOP tries to convey.

“I like to be up front with my readers. The fact is that the future is pretty bleak for both America and, especially, California,” Seiler writes. “Stu Spencer was part of the Reagan Revolution. But things are so much different than 31 years ago.”

This is not only NOT up front – since he buried Spencer and never mentioned his advice – but it’s incoherent because Seiler doesn’t deal with the challenges facing the California Republican Party, rather he outlines his rambling apocalyptic vision:

We now have a bipartisan $16 trillion federal deficit, and $1.5 trillion annual deficits. The “Communist” Chinese now are capitalist and are breathing down our necks economically. Their economy soon will surpass ours.  California is mired in a la-la land of thinking that our tiny 1 percent of the global economy somehow can be re-engineered to end global warming — excuse me, the new euphemism is “climate change” — just by destroying our own economy. Even as the evidence keeps showing that global warming, if it even exists, is not caused by humans.

Finally, Seiler is unable to contain his inner Orval Faubus:

“Seen in that context, the problem of Republicans attracting more Latino members is rather small tacos,” he writes.

There you go, that’s a smart approach for attracting Latinos to the Republican Party – suggest they represent little more than 99 cents at Taco Bell.

As we said, if we were partisan Democrats, we’d urge Republicans to throw in with this kind of thinking. But we’re not. And we hope they don’t.

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There are 11 comments for this post

  1. avatar tonyseton says:

    Arnold was a liberal? Maria was running him? Good grief! More proof that the range of our discourse extends from intellectual discussion to primitive bellowing. It’s too bad there are no true conservatives to bat down this idiocy. As on the national scene, where the Republican candidates trumpet nonsense without anyone in what was once the Grand Old Party calling them on it.

  2. avatar chuckmcfadden says:

    Democrats should encourage Seiler. Let’s hope he becomes an increasingly visible symbol of Republicanism.

  3. avatar Somerset says:

    Thanks for taking the time to counter (read: eviscerate) Selier’s article. I rarely have the time to write a response to all the ridiculousness in his columns, although I did when he wrote about Goodwin Liu: http://wildernessletters.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/goodwin-liu-isnt-a-radical/

  4. avatar Ernie Konnyu says:

    Seiler is right about the Republican Party and Hispanics namely that the twains shall not meet among more than about 25% of the Latinos. Opposition to illegals is hardwired in Republicans especially with the Tea Party branch and there is no present bend for compromise.

    Until America slowly digests our overabundance of undocumented immigrants through reclassifying them as guest workers, naturalization, expelling the criminal element and tightening severely border crossings, legal Hispanics will largely oppose Republican candidates as unsympathetic to their fellow Hispanic immigrants, legal or not. That digestive period may be as long as two to four decades.

    Meanwhile, Republicans who want to win in this decade with more than a minor share of the Hispanic vote will have to follow Marty Wilson’s advice. That is, campaign for Hispanic votes around our Party as Reagan and Bush Dubya did by directly and robustly approaching them through Latino media and targeted mail. Tough votes to get but, given enough campaign money and expressions of candidate values shared with conservative Hispanics, the usual 25% statewide Hispanic vote can be increased by perhaps a fourth (or to 31%) or even by a third (or to 33%).

    That is our Republican fate in a more and more Hispanic California.

    • avatar chrisfinnie says:

      So your solution to the GOP Latino problem is not to change Republican policies or rhetoric, but just to advertise more?

      In advertising, we have a well-known truism that says, “The fastest way to kill a bad product is good advertising.” The theory is that good advertising stimulates trial, which exposes the product faults faster. I think the CA GOP might consider this axiom before they dump a bunch of money into media buys. After all, look how well it worked for Meg Whitman!

  5. avatar chuckmcfadden says:

    Ernie is right. The digestive period may be as long as two to four decades.

    • avatar chrisfinnie says:

      And you know what you have at the end of a digestive period? Crappy Republican policies that disrespect hard-working people because they’re brown. I think this will always be hard for any cultural group to swallow–let alone digest.

  6. avatar tegrat says:

    Let’s face it, Republicans aren’t really very good at proposing rational policy. Unless there’s a tax to be ended or a woman’s reproductive right to infringe, they pretty much got nothing. Jobs? meh.

  7. avatar Donald from Pasadena says:

    And so it goes. Yesterday, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Hisperia) announced the commencement of a signature-gathering drive to repeal AB 130, the California Dream Act, in an effort to place it in a referendum before the state’s voters.

    When I was growing up, California was a state which nominally leaned Republican. Not any more. The GOP’s willingness to polarize the electorate by engaging in gay- and race-baiting, which panders to its own base’s increasingly irrational fears and worst instincts, is a political approach that most every sane person with a heart and a brain is rejecting, save for the truly ignorant among us.

    • avatar chrisfinnie says:

      So true. Which is why I almost split a seam laughing at all the GOP talking heads accusing the Occupy Wall Street folks of trying to “frighten and divide” our country. Afraid of a little competition guys? Last time I checked, that was pretty much the exclusive territory of the right wing. Plus, since when was speaking the honest truth a scare tactic? These idiots must be a hoot on Halloween. Boo!

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