The Latino Backlash Is Coming Sooner Than Republicans Expected
Now that we know the U.S. Hispanic population has grown even faster than the U.S. Census Bureau projected — already surpassing the 50 million threshold — some Republican politicians are beginning to worry that the GOP could be in trouble.
Really? Some of us have been predicting this for years!
We knew that after Republicans' vicious thrashing of Latinos and immigrants, demographics would come back to haunt the Republican Party. We knew that when conservative Republicans were writing their many mean-spirited measures, they also were writing their own political obituaries.
But frankly, we all saw it coming in the distant future, perhaps beyond our lifetimes, especially because too many Latinos are not yet eligible voters, and we thought it would take at least two decades to convert their population numbers into voter strength.
This allowed some Republican opportunists to use Latinos as punching bags, especially in states where there weren't enough minority voters to boot the immigrant-bashers out of office. Many of them have spent years attacking and offending the fastest-growing segment of the population in order to appeal to the most extreme elements of their so-called conservative base. They knew that by playing the race card, they would get some immediate boost from those afflicted by xenophobic fever, and they didn't seem to care about the long-term consequences.
Many Republicans obviously calculated that if there was going to be a Latino backlash for their abusive, mean-spirited treatment of immigrants, it would be in the distant future and, even then, only in metropolitan areas where Latinos already had some political strength.
Yet based on the results of the 2010 census, we now can conclude that the backlash could come much sooner than anyone expected and that consequences (for all the GOP's anti-Hispanic measures) may have to be paid throughout the United States because Latinos are growing in numbers all over the country.
Nationally, between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population grew by 43 percent — from 35.3 million to 50.5 million. More than half the nation's population growth in that decade came from Hispanics, and contrary to popular belief, that growth was caused more by new births than it was by immigration. Latinos now constitute 16 percent of the 308.7 million U.S. residents.
Since these figures were released a few days ago, the media again have been touting the meaningless "largest minority" title and missing the truly significant findings that spell trouble for Republicans.
For example, according to the 2010 census, nearly a quarter of U.S. children are Latinos. For Latinos who struggle for equality and civil rights in this country, it means that their quest for political empowerment may not have to wait until 2050, when Latinos are projected to make up more than a third of the U.S. population.
They may not be old enough to vote yet, but most of them already are American citizens, and they are growing up fast, turning 18 and becoming eligible voters at a rate of about 50,000 per month. And this amazing resource of new voters is composed of young people who are growing up in communities that have been under siege by GOP bashers.
They will remember the GOP's efforts to racially profile Latinos, to deny U.S. citizenship to the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants, to block access to higher education for undocumented students, and to turn back the clock to a time when minorities had no civil rights.
For Republicans who thought their Latino demographics problem still was a couple of decades away, the Census Bureau is saying their projected demise — caused by their well-deserved Latino backlash — is coming sooner rather than later.
And for the politicians who take cheap shots at immigrants because they represent cities, counties and states where Latinos still have little political muscle, the census says that too is changing. In seven of the states won by Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential election — Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee — the Hispanic population grew by at least 100 percent between 2000 and 2010. It means that the growth of the Hispanic population, with its many young and new voters, soon could make some red states turn blue.
Amazingly, the Democrats won't have to earn it. All they have to do is sit back and let Republicans continue to self-destruct in the Hispanic community.
You would think that Republican strategists, faced with the census's doomsday scenario, somehow would be able to persuade GOP flamethrowers to stop demonizing Latinos. You would think they would stop using immigration as a wedge issue to divide the American people. But don't bet on it.
In the 2012 presidential primaries, count on GOP candidates to cave in to pressure from tea partyers and other right-wing extremists and to continue alienating their party from the Hispanic community. You can bet on this: On immigration, the Republican primaries will be a competition to see who can be more Draconian.
The writing is on the wall for Republicans. But they won't read it.
If the most racist Republicans only learned how to shut up and keep their hatred of Latinos to themselves, perhaps their party could fool some Hispanic voters in a few years. But their barrage on Latinos is so constant and so vicious that the process of forgetting their offenses is not even allowed to begin.
In just the past couple of weeks, we've heard from a Kansas Republican who suggested that we shoot border-crossing undocumented immigrants from helicopters, as is done with wild hogs, and from an Arizona Republican who gave credibility to an anonymous letter from a teacher who had claimed that most Hispanic students "do not want to be educated but rather be gang members and gangsters."
Almost every week, at least one Republican politician reminds us why the GOP deserves the wrath of Latinos. And now the Census Bureau has shown us just how soon the backlash could begin.
To find out more about Miguel Perez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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