News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Monday, January 16, 2012

The GOP may try to divide minorities in the November election

The Republican party is in a fix. Right wing orthodoxy demands a GOP presidential nominee vehemently oppose immigration reform of any kind, a position that will alienate many Latino voters according to recent surveys. At the same time, Republicans are convinced they have no hope of winning the Black vote from President Obama. However, GOP strategists are also keenly aware that their presidential candidate will almost certainly lose the November election without significant support among Black and Latino voters. So what will the Republicans do about this dilemma?

My prediction: Their most likely solution will be a tried-and-true method used by colonial powers … divide and conquer. How that strategy will be implemented may take many forms. One way I think GOP leaders may try to drive a wedge between Blacks and Latinos would be to have Herman Cain and other prominent Black Republicans publicly attack immigration reform. By the simplistic reasoning of most Republican strategists toward minorities, when Black public figures attack immigration reform, Latinos will become hostile toward Blacks and vent their wrath on President Obama.

The assumption behind this callous tactic becomes more evident when we examine the mindset of many conservative Republicans toward minorities. Bereft of familiarity with minority cultures, GOP strategists take a monolithic approach to Black and Latino voters. For example, Rush Limbaugh once claimed Republican Colin Powell supported Barack Obama not because Powell agreed with Obama's political positions but simply because they were both Black. (Limbaugh neglects to explain why Herman Cain, Clarence Thomas and other Black conservatives fail his racial litmus test, proving once again that prejudice trumps reason.) 

Am I being overly cynical about GOP motives and tactics? One need look no farther than the Swift Boat attacks unleashed on John Kerry by the GOP to see that cunning political advisors will employ any means necessary to win an election. Let's not kid ourselves about below-the-belt politics, however. They are employed by both parties. But in the last several presidential elections, Republicans have become much more adept at these tactics – and now, they are truly desperate.

With the nation headed toward a future where Non-Hispanic Whites are projected to become a minority, the Republican party is in a demographic death spiral. As long as the GOP is perceived to be serving the exclusive interests of Non-Hispanic Whites, they are doomed. Yet, every attempt the GOP leadership makes to accommodate minority interests will alienate their base. This predicament can only lead to ever more divisive policies.

Could these divide and conquer tactics work? Unfortunately, they have in the past. What people of conscience of every ethnicity must do is be aware of the inevitable attempts to divide the us. Regardless of our origins, religion or race, we must stand together, recognizing our individual identities, yet celebrating our common humanity. There is much more than binds us as human beings than divides us as members of different groups. As we celebrate the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, we are reminded that our strength lies in unity and compassion – by all people, for all people. 

Raul Ramos y Sanchez

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