September 21, 2012 by Nash Riggins
Republican presidential-hopeful Mitt Romney may have lost his bid to attract America’s Hispanic voters after mockingly insinuating that this key demographic votes based solely upon racial lines.
In the disastrous video of a May fundraiser that was leaked earlier this week, Romney casually dismissed the importance of 47% of Americans, labeling them as “victims”. The media immediately – and justifiably – pounced.
Yet after admitting at the fundraiser that he would make no attempt whatsoever to woo America’s welfare-reliant voters, Mr Romney then nonchalantly connected this demographic to his most recent project of courting Latino voters by way of reference to his Mexican-born father, the late Governor George Romney.
“He was born in Mexico,” Romney chuckled. “And uh, had he been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this. But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico. They lived there for a number of years, and I say that jokingly but it would be helpful to be Latino.”
Laughter amongst Romney’s privileged donors momentarily ensued, and then the moment was gone – yet what ideology must be imprinted upon the presidential-hopeful’s brain in which such a race-driven association is given zero thought whatsoever?
“If the Hispanic voting block becomes as committed to the Democrats as the African American voting block has in the past,” Romney continued, “why we’re in trouble as a party, and I think, as a nation.”
Yet contrary to Mr Romney’s apparent misconceptions, America’s Hispanic voters do not vote in an impenetrable block based upon the colour of their skin. Indeed, polls suggest that they vote based upon several of the ideals that matter to voters of all race and creed: income tax, government entitlements and immigration reform.
According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, unemployment amongst the Hispanic-American community has run rampant – currently hovering well above the national average at 10.2%. Moreover, with regards to education, a study by the National Council of La Raza estimates that dropout rates within the Hispanic community could be as high as 28%.
Above all else, it is these two issues that tend to drive the relatively recent influx in benefits claims being sought out amongst said demographic – which, according to the Department of Human & Health Services, accounted for 25.3% of all Americans living below the poverty line in 2011. Worse still, many of those suffering under lives of poverty do not retain the legal ability in order to gain employment or government benefits.
There are an estimated 11 million undocumented persons currently residing in the US, and Mr Romney’s Republican Party has struggled in order to provide a practical and humane solution to the issue. His opponent, President Obama, has made arguable progress via his pursuit of passing the Dream Act – an administrative order that can provide illegal aliens with a temporary two-year legal status. Mr Romney has already stated that he’s fully prepared to revoke said legislature without proposing an alternative, and has made absolutely no suggestions regarding the validation of temporary visas for already settled undocumented persons.
Meanwhile, Hispanic voters have a right to question Romney’s associations with controversial advocates of hardline policies such as Arizona’s contentious SB1070 law and its architect, Kris Kobach. While Romney has yet to ratify ‘what to do’ with America’s dreamers, he has simultaneously embraced America’s more cantankerous anti-immigration advocates as ‘advisors’ on his immigration policy, leaving room for Hispanic voters to wonder what may become of friends and family who may stand to be pugnaciously deported under the administration of a prospective President Romney.
It is for this reason, and many others, that Mitt Romney should abandon any future attempts in order to court the votes of America’s Hispanic community. Even before the release of Mr Romney’s apparent dismissal of welfare recipients and Mexican-American voters, the latest poll from impreMedia/Latino Decisions indicates that Barack Obama has already won 61% of the vote amongst Hispanic men, and 68% of the female vote – both of which are predicted an 84-88% voter turnout.
Mitt Romney lost access to America’s Hispanic demographic before he even attempted to woo its voters – and now, he has insulted their intelligence by assuming that all Hispanic-Americans vote based upon the darkness of a candidate’s skin. Unbeknownst to some, politics is bigger than race – and it’s a shame that Mitt Romney has yet to realise this. In the meantime, however, the presidential-hopeful would do well to apply his charm elsewhere – because the clock is ticking.