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U.S. Opinions: Miami

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Alienating Latinos spells trouble for Republicans

From an editorial in The Miami Herald on Monday:

Nearly a half-century after the national political parties began to pay lip service to the importance of Hispanics, it’s safe to say the long-heralded Latino vote has finally arrived. Hispanic Americans played a significant, possibly decisive, role in the outcome of the 2012 presidential election.

The Republican Party can’t afford to ignore that political reality if it wants to remain a viable national contender.

Both the outcome of the 2012 vote and, what’s worse for the GOP, the long-term trend do not augur well for a party that needs broad-based support to win elections. Mitt Romney lost the vote by 71 percent to 27 percent.

For that, he can blame both himself and his party. Romney’s effort to woo primary voters hostile to the DREAM Act and to the very idea of sensible immigration reform sealed his fate with Latino voters.

The Obama campaign made sure Hispanics heard about it in the general election, but they did not put words into the candidate’s mouth. He did that himself. No amount of spin could overcome the impact of the “self-deportation” concept Romney expressed.

In key states, from Colorado to Virginia, Hispanics helped swing the vote to Obama.

For Republicans, this election should serve as a rude awakening. The party needs to reach out to Hispanics now, before their affiliation with the Democratic Party becomes part of their political DNA. A failure to act would turn Latino voters into a sure thing for Democrats, just as certainly as the GOP’s Southern Strategy permanently alienated black voters.

The face of America is changing toward greater diversity and social openness, and that has been good for the country.

The GOP’s best hope is to listen to one of their party’s brightest young leaders, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who said after the election that his party needs to work harder to communicate Republican ideas to Hispanics.

Rep. John Boehner, the majority leader in the House, said after the election that he was “confident” Congress and the White House could come up with a comprehensive immigration solution.

Amazing. Maybe elections do indeed have consequences. Boehner appears to have read the handwriting on the wall, albeit belatedly. If the rest of his party fails to do likewise, they’ll be the ones to drive the GOP over its own political cliff.

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