There’s nothing cooler in today’s overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly Anglo Republican Party than being neither. For its State of the Union rebuttal, the GOP tapped Cuban-American Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Rubio had already introduced Mitt Romney at the Republican National Convention, while Puerto Rican first lady Lucé Vela Fortuño introduced Romney’s wife, Ann. When a Senate seat opened up in South Carolina last December, party elders chose African-American Rep. Tim Scott. And Republicans have just founded a new organization to groom minorities in the party. The GOP will never rebound, explains the group’s chairman, African-American former Republican congressman J.C. Watts, “until you get people that look like me in the trenches.” Republicans probably overestimate the traction they’ll get from changing the color and accents of their pitchmen. There’s something deeply patronizing about the GOP’s assumption that while its voters are motivated by ideology, Latino and black Democrats act merely on ethnic or racial affinity. The harsh truth is that the single biggest reason Latinos and African-Americans vote Democratic is that they mostly agree with Democrats that government should do more for people in need, even if that means less military spending and higher taxes. Even immigration drives Latino voting far less than many Republicans seem to believe.
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