Insanity: Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Expecting Different Results
Latino Texans Republicans are in peril of falling into the same trap that has almost vanished the amicable relationship created by W. Bush between the Republican Party and Latinos in Texas. At the national level, The Republican National Committee (RNC), under the leadership of Michael Steel, and subsequently under Reince Priebus, pressured by the Tea Party wave, never formulated any real attempt to lure Latinos in Texas and the southwest to the GOP. In fact, whatever small token the the RNC crafted as “Hispanic Outreach” always went to the same dinosaurs in Florida who for long time have kept the illusion that there was an ongoing Republican effort in the form of “Hispanic outreach.”
But if you are a Hispanic Republican activist–precinct or delegate—you know that such “Hispanic outreach” from the RNC never really left Florida, or the office of some D.C. “Hispanic” Republican strategists. Sadly, this week we will be faced with the same danger of having the same strategist from Florida and D.C. attempting to dictate another symbolic, and most likely, “Hispanic” outreach message with the same strategists and media persons from Florida who are still managing the message.
On Friday, Politico had story underlining that the Hispanic Leadership Network (HLN) was meeting in Florida to, as “One strategist involved in the session called it a preliminary ‘gathering of the minds’ focused on ‘the importance of Hispanics.” Also, this coming Tuesday, the RNC Chairman Reince Priebus will come to Austin, Texas to meet with Party leaders and Latino Republican leaders to discuss a Latino “outreach” and he will be bringing Bettina Inclan who still carries the title of Hispanic Outreach Director. Granted, HLN under Jennifer Korn, is the only national organization that has continuously toiled in the Southwest to bring more Latinos and businesses into the conservative movement. But, unfortunately, this meeting of the “minds” in Florida and RNC Chairman trip to Austin, accompanied by Inclan, may be an indication that the RNC could be using the same failed structural model led by Hispanic Republicans in Florida and Hispanic strategists in D.C. insiders who never really worked in Texas or the southwest. And quite frankly, Texas does not need that model.
Texas has the most conservative Hispanic population in the nation, and largest share of population than any other Republican state. For instance, in Texas, 36 percent of the population is Latino, of which more than 50 percent of the state self-identifies as conservative. In addition, Latinos in state have the biggest middle-class than any other state, and Latino in Texas rank the highest in high school graduation. Moreover, Texas will continue to increase its Congressional delegation since the state will add about ten million to its population in the next two decades while Florida has one of oldest population in the nation.
Conversely, Latinos in Florida are only 16 percent of the population and Florida is a purple state where Cuban-Americans are losing the battle on conservative Republican message. For example, the Cuban vote for Obama in the state increased to 60 percent last November from 40 percent in 2008. In fact, the only Republican Cuban bloc left is the so-called “super voters,” old cadre of pre-Marielito Cubans whose only agenda is to topple Fidel Castro and keep the Cuban Embargo in place. Cubans even failed to keep the Republican seat of Congressman David Rivera to a Cuban Democrat Joe Garcia, becoming the only Miami-Dade congressional incumbent to lose his seat in recent memory, as the Miami Herald called.
So yes, and even though the Cuban-Americans have failed to attract other Hispanic groups in the state to keep Florida red, nationally Cubans in Florida still ran the show of “Hispanic outreach” within the RNC, which puts them advantageous position because they get financial resources, and puts their interests ahead of the interests of Latinos in Texas and the Southwest while at same time giving the illusion that they are doing “Hispanic outreach.” Otherwise, why would we have ‘gathering of the minds’ in Florida and not in Texas? The voting power of Cubans is shrinking while the influence of Texas is increasing. Or, why would Bettina Inclan from Florida be in charge of Hispanic outreach when the majority of Latino voters are in Texas and the Southwest?
As a result, there is an inherent structural problem with the RNC Hispanic “Outreach” Program that needs to be acknowledged if we really want to fix. This failed “Hispanic outreach” from the last five years from Florida and the RNC in DC has structural problems because is self-fulfilling, it benefits few at top, and the Leadership in Florida is a close-tight circle of advisers who perpetuate idea that there is a functional structural model in Florida that can be implemented in others states.
For example, when Reince Priebus was pressured to do something about the vote in 2011, Chairman Priebus hired Bettina Inclan, who is “strategist in Florida as Hispanic outreach Director. Yet Inclan never really left Florida during the 2012 presidential campaign to talk about issues in Hispanic communities to support candidates. Also, Inclan, who still uses the RNC Hispanic outreach Director title even thought she did nothing during the 2012 election, was part of the circle of advisers telling Mitt Romney to talk only about the economy and avoid talking about education and immigration.
So Inclan came from this small circle of Republicans in Florida who still want to sell the idea that RNHA and Florida Hispanic Republicans strategists ought to be the center of Hispanic Republican media and ideas, even if most Florida Latinos are now voting for Obama.
Also, why was Inclan from Florida hired as the Hispanic Outreach Director while 80 percent of Latinos live in the Southwest and Texas? Inclan come from a small group Florida Republican who still claim ownership of the official Republican National Hispanic Assembly (RNHA) led by Alci Maldonado. The RNHA is headquartered in Florida and is a broken organization that was ousted from Texas and the southwest in 2008, yet it still hold the title of “official” organization, and thus, giving the false impression we have workable national organization from Florida. The fallout of RNHA in 2008, led the Latino National Republican Coalition (LNRC), which also had leadership in D.C. that only promised funds to Texas, but never it really materialized.
Furthermore, in July of 2011, the RNC made a great show by announcing that it had allocated $3,000,000 for Hispanic outreach. However, in traveling throughout Texas attending political events and talking to GOP Hispanic candidates, we found that nobody really knew what happened to that money. Did all go to pay for all the Republicans strategy like Anna Navarro, and Bettina Inclan in Florida?
Similarly, if indeed the small circle of Republicans in Florida use all the official titles and financial resources from the RNC, it is only to the benefits of the strategists and politicians from that state who have utilized all the resources to develop their leadership teams; none of these funds were ever spent in leadership teams, or Latinos Republican candidates, in Texas and the southwest. As a result, each time the RNC needs a Latino GOP communication “Director,” it is forced to recruit from the same small group of “strategists” in Florida. Or, each time Hispanic Republicans in Texas, New Mexico, or California need a prominent Hispanic Republican, we have to fly-in Marco Rubio from Florida because in Texas still does not have a prominent figures in Congress and a cohesive leadership team; and thus, Republicans Latinos in the southwest still hold only a surrogate role instead of leadership position within the RNC.
During last election, we asked many new candidates running for the state legislature or Congress about issues, but sadly some of them did not know about issues because they had never been trained on the issues due to lack of funding from state GOP or the RNC. In fact, the only time we saw the RNC or Romney’s teams, was when they came to Texas looking for Money.
Consequently, for organizations and activists in Texas and the southwest, the RNHA and Directors like Bettina Inclan in Florida have become an impediment to grow the Hispanic Republicans base in Texas and the Southwest region because the RNC is still managed by people who hold “Official” titles of RNC but do nothing; it is just an image because they never really engage in actual outreach. So as long as the chairman Reince Priebus continuous to surround himself with the same “Hispanic Outreach Directors” like Inclan, and the “gatherings of minds” continues to take place in Florida–Texas Latinos will not have fair representation at the national level and within the Party machinery of the RNC.
The only solution to this failed Hispanic outreach mess is that all conservative Latinos organizations in Texas make it clear to RNC that Texas needs its own representative, a liaison who does not have to go through the messy and monopolized politics of the Cuban-Americans, and their interests, in Florida. In other words, since Texas and Texas Latino may be the only hope to save the GOP, Texas Latinos need to have a direct access to RNC with any intermediaries on Florida. The RNC need to understand, Latinos in Texas do not need the RNC, it is RNC who really needs Latinos in Texas and from Texas to create a cohesive Republican base in the southwest.
As Texas Republicans we preach the Texas economy as an ideal model for the rest of the nation. In politics, the Latino Texas solution with leadership in Texas may be the only alternative left for the GOP. Texas has the largest number of independent conservative republican organizations that with the right leadership tools, can develop better and cohesive Republican Latino base. So maybe it is time that we get some respect from D.C. and Florida.Alex Gonzalez is a political Analyst and Political Director for Latinos Ready To Vote! He received a Bachelors Degree and a Masters’ Degree, with emphasis in American politics, from San Francisco State University. comments to firstname.lastname@example.org