There’s a war going on in the Republican Party.
Some in the party believe that the only way to be competitive in national elections is to support comprehensive immigration reform. They look at how Republicans’ share of the Latino vote in presidential elections has dropped every time since 2000, and believe that Latinos generally have a pro-life stance and thus are a natural fit for the Republican Party. These Republicans are led by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who represent the “business wing” of the party that has always pushed for more immigration because it is a source of cheap labor.
This wing is being opposed by the group that shut down comprehensive immigration reform the last time it was being proposed, late in the Bush administration; the wing of the Republican Party that believes immigration reform will not reward the GOP because Latinos are more likely to vote Democratic. This wing is led by Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Senator David Vitter (R-LA).
And this wing’s argument is mostly correct.
In a Pew poll from 2012, 75 percent of Latinos say they believe in a “bigger government” with more services. Latinos identify with the Catholic Church when it comes to abortion, but also when it comes to caring for the poor and taking care of fellow citizens, tenets of the religion that aren’t as important to social conservatives.
Then Rush makes the situation worse by implying that the reason Latinos won’t vote Republican is that they’ve moved away from the “hard work” model of Cuban immigrants. Wednesday on his show, Limbaugh said this:
“And the way the Republicans are looking at it is that they think that Hispanic immigrants are made-to-order conservatives. For some reason, culturally, they think that they’re invested in hard work. And using the Cuban exile model, they’re exactly right. But the Hispanic demographic, if you will, or population, has shifted. And the Cuban exile model is no longer the dominant model. The Mexican immigrant model is. And that — they arrive with an entirely different view of America. And I’m sorry if this is offensive, but it’s true.”
Limbaugh then went on to spew the fallacy that the border needs to be secured, though it’s more secure now than it’s been in any time in recent memory.
Forget the irony of Rush — a man who talks into a microphone a few hours a day for a living — calling anyone lazy. Mexican immigrants often toil at jobs most Americans would be unwilling to do for the low wages they pay — farm work, childcare, housekeeping. Rush is making the “47 percent” argument that lost the last election: If someone believes in a government that cares for the vulnerable, they must be lazy.
Latinos do not seem to have that perception. They’ve turned away from a Republican Party that looks down on them and sees them as leeches and pariahs who need to “self-deport.” And as long as people like Rush Limbaugh are speaking for the party, there’s no reason to expect Latinos will ever feel welcome in the GOP.