By Thomas Martin Salazar (originally published at Cafe Con Leche Republicans Blog)
Growing up my father (a Mexican national) taught me the importance of having three basic priorities that should govern my life. These priorities were to always place God first, family second, and work/school third above everything else. After the spanking the Republicans received this last election day, it seems as if we as a party could benefit from considering these priorities, especially when it comes to the family. I understand that not every Hispanic person is the same, nor is every Mexican American for that matter. But I do believe that these priorities are important and relatable to the Hispanic and Latino community. While the GOP tends to do a great job at defending religious liberty and is the most active in the defense of the unborn, it seems to neglect one of the most important priorities – family and fails miserably at communicating the third – work/education.
If Republicans wish to gain back the support of the Latino vote, especially that of the Mexican Americans in many southwestern states, then we need to end the rhetorical attacks on their families. Hispanics are not going to vote for any candidate whom they think is going to deport their abuelita or go after their parents, husbands or wives. They also will not support candidates of a party who want to end birthright citizenship. If we are to be the party of family values which I believe we are, then we must let go of our rhetoric and reach out in good faith to work towards some form of immigration reform just as George W. Bush tried to do. Conservatives seem to think and fear that Hispanics are inherently liberal. I disagree. The Democratic party does not hold our values; but neither do they pander to the immigration enforcement only crowd as republicans tend to do. I am not calling for open borders or lax enforcement. I am suggesting that we use our enforcement resources on the border and go after the criminals and the cartels, meanwhile, finding a humane way to keep families united and help build a better future for America and the Republican Party. When the Republicans finally embrace pro-family policies and cease the rhetoric that has been perceived as anti-Hispanic, then the door will be opened for further dialogue.
After we reach out in good faith, then we, as a party, must communicate better toward Hispanics and Latinos in general. We need candidates and organized groups to reach out and educate them on economic issues. Both employment and education are top priorities for many Hispanics, but if they do not see the connection from the policy played out in their daily lives, then we are failing to communicate. Republicans must do a better job at explaining how raising tax rates and continued deficit spending will negatively impact them. While at the same time, Republicans need to articulately respond with fiscally sound economic policies that will lead to economic growth and rising incomes. Moreover, we need to defend the free market and explain how it is their inherent right as human beings, created by God, to choose how to spend and use their money. Republicans should also educate Hispanic voters on the myriads of federal regulations and taxes that are inhibiting his or her ability to freely choose, by decreasing growth and upward mobility.
Furthermore, we need to work harder at defending educational choice for parents. We have an over regulated education system that sends billions of dollars to bureaucrats in the Department of Education, while spending on students and their classrooms are both neglected. Moreover, Republicans can definitely win on the issue of school choice. School choice is not a federal program; it is the right for parents to have the choice whether to send their children to public, private or charter schools or even homeschool if they wish. Parents should be afforded all options because each child learns differently and no one size fits all federal education program will meet those needs. We must oppose federal one size fits all cookie cutter educational standards and move towards state rights and parental rights. Education is a pivotal issue for each and every Hispanic mother and father. This goal will be hindered if we do not reach out and clearly articulate to Hispanic voters our educational polices.
Thus, we must do better at articulating our values to the Hispanic and in particular the Mexican American community. I do believe this goal is attainable and I am optimistic. Just recently, conservative talk show host, Sean Hannity, came out in favor for immigration reform and the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, said he is “confident” that the Republican congress can reach a deal on an immigration reform bill. Again, we are the ones who need to reach out in good faith and restart the dialogue. Therefore, I pray that the GOP will heed these words and consider the three top priorities of this frustrated Republican: God, family, and work/education. If we do anything less, failure is inevitable.
Editors note: as with all blog postings that appear with a by-line, the opinions presented are the author’s and not necessarily the positions of Cafe Con Leche Republicans.
Thomas Martin Salazar is an Arizona leader of the Café con Leche Republicans. Thomas was born and raised in Arizona. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from Grand Canyon University and is currently working on obtaining a MDiv in Biblical Communication from Phoenix Seminary. Thomas has also served as the Grand Canyon University College Republicans Vice President and interim President (February 2007-April 2008) and as a Maricopa County Republican Precinct committeeman (August 2009 – August 2012).