By Alex Gonzalez
In politics voters only need to know who is going to look after their interests and those of their party. For Latinos it is clear that ideological purity simply won’t work. After the debate in Houston for the U.S. Senate, among Republicans, it is clear that what we don’t need is ideological purity that will only create more gridlock in Congress. That current paralysis in Congress has exacerbated the economic condition for Latinos these past 4-years, more so than for any other group. Latinos can measure who is a good Republican candidate for them in Texas, if they apply a simple method. What candidates have supported with respect to the issues that are important to Latinos, and who wants to make a better Republican Establishment that will attract more for Latinos to the GOP. It is all about issues and Loyalty to the Party.
First, Latinos are a unique group of people because they are geographically situated in large populated border states Like California, New Mexico and Texas. Second, considering that 65% of Latinos in this border are under age of 25, the most pressing issues for Latinos in these states is very similar. Essentially, an ideal Republican senatorial candidate for Latinos is one who has done more to promote the economy of Texas with its neighbors. Additionally, Latinos should consider a candidate who has done more to address the issues salient to Latinos in matter of education, jobs and immigration in the last 10 years.
Texas has always been seen as beacon of hope for Latinos Republicans; the conservative mantra of the state has often recognized the long history of Latinos within the state. As such, the GOP has always welcomed Latinos into its platform. From 2000 to 2010, following in the footsteps of W. Bush, the Republican majority in Texas legislature created education policies aimed at helping young Latinos finished high school and enroll in college. The Republican Legislature in Texas passed the Top Ten Percent Plan to further increase the numbers of Latinos into higher education institutions; as a result, Latinos are more than ½ of the population of the students enrolled in K-12 programs. Also, in 2003, the majority of the Republican Legislature passed the in-state tuition legislation with a overwhelmingly 176-4 vote to open the doors to those illegal immigrants that were brought to the US as children. The Republican legislators took this educational approach because they understand that, in terms of economics, the state’s healthy economic future is linked to higher education attainment among Latinos. This is why Republican politicians have promoted this policy since George W. Bush was Governor, and even more recently with Gov. Perry.
Also, from 2000 to 2010 the Republican legislature avoided, any type of harsh immigration legislation bill that could be perceived as anti-Latino, such as SB1070 and E-Verify. So, while the country sunk into a recession and unemployment skyrocketed to 10% by 2010, in Texas unemployment steadily remained at 7.5 throughout recession. As a result, opportune low tax policies, while the unemployment rate among Latinos reached 12% nationally—especially in California—in Texas the economic programs set up by Gov. Rick Perry and the Republican Legislatures, with help from some Democrats, helped working-class Latinos in Texas, buffered the national recession.
However, with the rise of the Tea Party members in the legislature in 20111, what has happened in the last 18 months in Texas has been one of the most contentious sessions in Texas between the Republican Party and Latinos in the last 20-years. And although, the “sanctuary bill”, Voter ID had to more with politicking than sound policies, these bills have been perceived as anti-Latino. However, the Latino voters are in part to blame for it because their turnout in 2010 was dismal 17%. Additionally, though Republicans had 5 Republican Latino legislators, it was not enough to stop these bills. As State Rep. Aaron Pena puts it, the legislature tackled issues the tea party voter wanted addressed. That is how democracy works. If Latinos want their issues addressed, they need to vote more, or at least vote.
So there is a clear contrast among Republican candidates that Latino Republicans need to understand that they need to vote for a candidate who is on their side, in the upcoming primaries. Prior to 2011, The Republicans Establishment in Texas worked to promote policies that guaranteed an amicable environment for Latinos in the state and within the GOP. Thus, the best Republican candidate for Latinos by default is Lt. Governor David Dewhurst who has worked and watched over, with both Republicans and Democrats, economic and education and policies important for Latinos. In this case, Latinos need to vote for a candidates who will “take back” the Texas GOP Establishment and apply those ideas that were good for Latinos, namely those that were evident pre-2011 session.
As for Tea Party candidates, Ted Cruz is the only other viable candidate that is challenging Dewhurst. There is saying in Spanish saying that goes Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres ( tell me who you run with and I’ll tell you who you are). During the debate on Friday in Houston, Mr. Cruz stated that the only people he will work with if elected is Tea Party members like Sen. Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Sen. DeMint, and Sen. Toomey. However, those first three senators have introduced legislation to changed the 14th amendment to take away the citizenship of American born of undocumented parents, which is mainly perceived an attack on Latinos. These 3 Senators also want to cut our military spending. Also, Cruz is running on building more fences with Mexico, against the Dream Act and attack all the Republicans who voted for in-state tuition for young kids. As a result, Latinos voting for Cruz could be voting against their own interests. Additionally, 87% of Latinos across party lines agree that there should Dream Act and Immigration reform for those who have no criminal record.
Furthermore, Cruz is running as anti-Republican candidate. So in order to make himself look good, he assails the Republican Establishment in Texas. For example, one of the main reasons why Texas has avoided the recession is because Texas does not have state taxes, yet Cruz said that since 2000 the Republican legislature in Texas has increased taxes by 40%. Moreover, Cruz gets his support from FreedomWorks, the Club for Growth, Americans for Tax Reform, all of whom are also funding the against other Republican Like Sen. Lugar in Indiana and Sen. Orin Hatch in Utah. Coincidentily, Lugar and Hatch are among the few Senators who have supported the Dream Act in the past.
In the economic aspect. From the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, American Enterprise Institute, and the Hoover Institution, nobody takes the fiscal purist plans of “no compromise” by Cruz seriously; Cruz claims that the only ones supporting his plan is Sen. DeMint. Thus, conservative think tanks like the CBO, The Bipartisan Commission agreed that the only way out of fiscal mess is 3:1 approach: for every $3 dollars in spending cuts, there has to be $1 dollar increased in taxes. And, there is no other way because for the last 30-years both Republican and Democrats have failed to cut entitlement. So Mr. Cruz idea of “no compromise” is just naïve illusion that will only keep sinking the country further into debt and more fiscal chaos.
The other issue touched during the debate, and a issue that is extremely important to Latinos, in that Texas will double its population from 25 million to 50 million in 30-years. So this makes more pressing for Latinos to vote for candidates that want to promote education and economic policies aimed at helping Latinos in Texas move up to middle-class income earners.
In support of Sen. Lugar, Peggy Noonan wrote this Friday on the WSJ that:
What Washington needs is sober and responsible adults. We are as a nation in a moment of real peril, facing challenges that are going to become existential—maybe already are—if we don’t do something about them. We won’t be able to ignore them—an unsound tax system, increasing and highly ideological regulation, an entitlement system whose demands will crush our children—for long. So right now, and more than ever, we need mature folk involved in our governance, people for whom not everything is new. People who know how to do things, who began studying a complicated issue 25 years ago and have kept up, who know it backward and forward. People who know the ways of the chamber backward and forward, and who know how to talk across the aisle. There is value in experience, in accomplishment and expertise.
Every poll suggests that the issues for Latinos are Jobs/the Economy, education, and immigration. So the question for Latinos in Texas when voting for a Republican Senator—and for congress–should be an easy one: who will look after the interests of Latinos in Texas in the US Senate, and after the interest of the GOP? Latinos need to vote for Republican candidate that has experience dealing with issues salient to them and their communities; a candidate that is willing to work with the Republican Establishment to promote to build ad stronger bond between the Party and Latinos. Latinos need to stand with a candidates who is willing to compromise to fix education, entitlements and immigration. Moreover, a candidate whom “People who know how to do things, who began studying a complicated issue 25 years ago and have kept up, who know it backward and forward”. Latinos do not need a new purist fad that promises a naïve Libertarian illusion that will only foment more gridlock in Congress. Latinos need a strong Republican candidate with experience and the desire to “take back” the party.
Ted Cruz is running his campaign, that seems is against Texas, the GOP, and Latinos in the same way that Freedowork, the Club for growth, and Grover Norquis are doing in Indiana and Utah. Cruz will only create an ideological gridlock in Congress by sabotaging any attempts by Republicans for compromise. He will align with other anti-Republican groups in D.C., which will make harder for the Republicans Party to lure Latinos, especially Mexican-Americans in Texas and throughout the Southwest.