Bryan Fischer of the ironically-named American Family Association is what happens when you stop thinking. An anti-gay zealot who credits homosexuality for Adolf Hitler, Fischer has now focused his attention to the rise of the Latino vote.
Fischer lamented the loss of Mitt Romney to Barack Obama on his radio show last week, and he declared that Latinos didn’t vote for the Democrats because of immigration, but because Latinos are “socialist by nature.” Well, he’s half right. Latinos did not vote for President Obama because of his immigration policies. Latinos voted for President Obama despite them.
But if it wasn’t clear enough why the Republican Party lost the last election, let me spell it out for you. The Republican Party didn’t lose because of gays, minorities, horny single women or as Donald Trumps says, the blacks; the Republican Party lost because of Republicans.
Republicans like Bryan Fischer, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin. This ménage a trois of ridiculousness have been massaging the egos of white males for years without the gratification of results. No happy ending. Just a whole lot of hot talk to their buddies.
But this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen. This circle of jerks will be around in four years, as will their followers. They will vote in droves in 2014, and you can bet the stroking will be in high gear as we discuss immigration reform, marital rights, the reproductive liberty of women, or the assault on minority neighborhoods through the war on drugs.
Which makes me think that all this talk about Latino candidates for President is too premature. Latinos aren’t ready for the big time because they still do not participate at the rates necessary to sustain the political influence necessary to change politics as we know it. We aren’t ready because the Democrats have not cultivated Latino leaders with the infrastructure necessary to reach out to Latinos. Latinos should of course remain vigilante, but they must also be realistic.
Pew Hispanic Center reports that the rate of Latino turnout is still low and has not changed much in the last two decades. That is to say that the growth in the Latino vote is less about increased integration, and more about the raw population growth of Latinos. Our power still lies in the future.
Lost in the discussion among Latinos about the president’s coalition was the importance of the black vote and the white moderate vote. If Latinos are to continue their maturity in the political system, victories at the national level will be important. Which is why I think we need a president who will galvanize black voters, a critical part of the electorate with the experience of voter suppression grafted into their DNA, and with the advantage of institutions Latinos are still building and can only hope to replicate.
We need a president who will hold tight to elite and moderate whites, another important component of the current coalition that was the difference between a win in a State like Colorado and a loss in Arizona. And we need a president with the compassion to look across the nation and view our growing presence not as a threat, but an opportunity.
When I think back to the Democratic National Convention, I think of four speeches that hit it out of the park with the diverse audience. Two of them, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, won’t be on the ticket in 2016. The other two were Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and First Lady Michelle Obama. You do the math.
Folks like Fischer, Limbaugh and Levin will continue to reach around the country spreading their message of hate to the willfully ignorant. There is a winning coalition and a pathway to progress if we so choose to use it. If you thought this election might evoke a friendlier tone from the likes of these folks, you were sadly wrong. We can continue the fruitless task of trying to convince them they were wrong about us. Or we can simply defeat them. It’s our choice.
Stephen A. Nuño, Ph.D., NBC Latino contributor and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University. He is currently writing a book on Republican outreach into the Latino Community.