Please allow me to once again state the obvious (as I did yesterday here):
In this election, Democrats and Republicans alike care deeply about the answers to these two questions: Are you a woman? Are you Latino?
It’s not that they don’t care if you’re African American, Asian American, Native American, Middle Eastern American, an American member of the LGBTQ community, etc., it just that they aren’t willing to spend as much time and money to reach you.
While the pole positioning for women has come to rely upon the applied understanding of the demographics of subpopulations—zooming in with laser-like focus on single white female heads-of-households, twenty-something years of age, with some college education, but no four-year degree—the battle for Latinos is much more cut and dry.
The Romney campaign has made only one consistent argument to Latino voters (and has relied almost exclusively on Spanish language media to make it): If everything sucks for everyone, everywhere in the US, everything sucks way worse for Latinos because President Obama “didn’t do what he said he was going to do.” In July, this argument took the form of an ad stressing that the national unemployment rate was 10.3% for Latinos, compared to 8.3% for all Americans. And now it’s taken the form of a 30-second spot featuring refrains such as, “Obama has no idea what we’re going through,” “Promises and promises and nothing,” and “Are things better for you? Not for me.”
The play here for courting voters is very obvious and doesn’t necessarily distinguish itself from the play Romney-Ryan are making to cut into President Obama’s overall lead with women. The difference here is that a best case scenario for the GOP, and the hyper-funded anti-Obama Super PACs, is to compete for and win a sizable percentage of single white female heads-of-households, twenty-something years of age, with some college education, but no four-year degree, while the best case scenario for the GOP, and the hyper-funded anti-Obama Super PACs, is for Latino voters to stay home, or find themselves disenfranchised by the introduction of new voter ID requirements, the reduction of early voting and vote-by-mail options, and the limits placed on voter registration campaigns conducted by nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations.
The margin that the Romney campaign must make up for when it comes to Latino support for the President is simply too significant to overcome in the fewer than two months remaining before Election Day. If Latinos show up in large numbers on November 6, the way they showed up in large numbers in states like Nevada in 2010—where Latino voters comprised 12% of all of Nevada’s registered voters in 2010, but comprised 16% of the members of the electorate taking part in those midterm elections—then Romney-Ryan will most assuredly only see the White House as members of a tour group; via press images, novelty calendars, or souvenir postcards.
Although Latinos played prominent, primetime roles at the RNC and DNC, the GOP and the hyper-funded, anti-Obama Super PACs aren’t interested in actually courting Latino voters by offering clear alternatives to the President’s positions, or articulating something akin to a laundry list of campaign promises. There are and will be no shiny objects intended to draw attention to the Romney campaign’s stances on (or avoidance of) hot button issues considered critical to the Latino electorate. Any such tactics would prove a losing formula. Instead, the strategy must be to foment feelings of disgust, disappointment, and desperation among Latinos, writ large, and direct these feelings toward President Obama. The expectation? That fanning the flames of the Latino enthusiasm gap, coupled with the onslaught of laws designed to restrict voter registration, early voting, and vote-by-mail, as well as to suppress the participation of voters who tend to support the Democratic Party will rob Obama-Biden of the hard fought states of Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, and North Carolina.
After all, Mitt Romney would never have been able to fully erase the fact that he captured the Republican Party’s nomination, in large part, by running to right of a crowded field of hard-line, anti-immigrant candidates. The policy of “self deportation,” currently enshrined in the GOP platform adopted at the RNC, was based on the logic that if conditions for any and all undocumented immigrants became intolerable enough, they would do the work of removing themselves from the US, so the government wouldn’t have to. Key components of this magic formula for making life in the US unlivable for immigrants included a clear as day pledge by Mitt Romney to veto the DREAM Act if it should ever cross his desk. And last, but most certainly not least, asserting unapologetically his support for, “Arizona as a model for the rest of the nation,” SB 1070 style laws in all 50 states.
Occasionally, Latino Republicans, and other GOP-friendly people of color will make an argument similar to the one Romney campaign surrogate, Carly Fiorina makes when asked about the gender gap separating Romney-Ryan from Obama-Biden. Women should not be treated as a special interest group, or single-issue voters, because women care about every issue. Simply replace the word “women,” with the word “Latinos” or “Hispanics” and voila, you have what appears to be a strong declaration about the ever-presence, integration, and incorporation of historically marginalized populations, allowing for any amount of spin; lending itself to the sound-byte friendly talking-points any surrogate worth his or her salt is expected to communicate.
Unfortunately, facts are facts, even in a world where truth is confounded with truthiness.
Mitt Romney may have talked a good game back in April about “getting Hispanic voters by overcoming the issue of immigration.” And he may have had a Communications Adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, who believed in hitting the “reset button for the fall campaign… like an Etch A Sketch… shake it up and start over again.” Nevertheless, as columnist, Maureen Dowd, recently pointed out, “He remains too insecure about this base… Mitt is running from his elusive better angels… he once seemed to have sensible, managerial instincts, [but the fact that] he won’t stop ingratiating himself with the neo-Neanderthals… [is] the biggest reveal of all”
One week ago, Mitt Romney enthusiastically endorsed the reelection of Iowa’s Steve King, despite the fact that he is one of the most strident anti-immigrant, anti-Latino voices in the US Congress: A member of the House of Representatives, who argued an electrified fence should be built along the southern border (without advocating anything similar for the northern border, much less the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines). An elected official, who compared immigrants to dogs, and then doubled down on this comment, instead of apologizing for it. An obstructionist legislator, who pursued a lawsuit to prevent DREAM Act eligible students from receiving the benefits of President Obama’s deferred action (DACA) program. A hateful xenophobe, whose white-supremacist propaganda was on full display during the Congressional hearing he held to promote a federal “English only” policy, despite data from the Pew Center, affirmed by the Economist, and aligned with studies by Nielsen, that immigrants from Latin America, and their children, learn and use English as their primary language, at rates that rival any previous wave of immigrants from anywhere in the world.
If Mitt Romney were actually interested in winning Latino votes, he would not have made this endorsement. But since Mitt Romney is only interested in keeping Latino voters home because they lack the will to vote for President Obama, and making sure that those who do actually show up to vote are inconvenienced, hassled, and harassed by early voting and vote by mail restrictions, as well as new voter ID laws, created by GOP-controlled legislatures, intended to suppress the votes of those who elected Barack Obama in 2008, backing Steve King is exactly what the doctor ordered: Red meat for the GOP base that has gobbled up anything and everything offered up by Federation for American Immigration Reform attorney, and Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach.
Malcolm X, (El_Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) famously said, “I have more respect for a man who lets me know where he stands, even if he’s wrong, than the one who comes up like an angel and is nothing but a devil.”
Only by applying this standard is it possible to say anything positive about Kris Kobach.
As Kansas Secretary of State, Kobach sits on the Objections Board that has yet to determine whether or not President Obama’s name will be allowed to appear on the November 6 ballot. The decision is pending a review of the authenticity of the birth certificate produced by the State of Hawaii. When asked to comment on this monumental waste of taxpayer dollars, and irreplaceable time in the lives of the human beings forced to take part in this absurdity, Kobach said, “I don’t think it’s a frivolous objection.”
You might be thinking, “Ok, so one Romney immigration adviser is a guano-crazy birther, who believes in unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, and fuels rumors that President Obama was born in Kenya, that he’s a secret Muslim, that’s he’s the Antichrist, and so forth, but at least he lives and works in a small red state, and doesn’t have any real influence over what happens nationally, or what’s in the GOP 2012 Platform, right?”
As Suzy Khimm wrote in Mother Jones, “If there’s a controversial new anti-immigration law that’s captured national attention, chances are that it has Kris Kobach’s imprimatur… Kobach helped Arizona lawmakers craft the infamous immigration law that passed in the spring of 2010… [and] coached legislators across the country in their efforts to pass dozens of similar measures, ranging from Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri to the small town of Fremont, Nebraska… Kobach, 45, has spent much of his professional life developing the legal framework that a growing number of officials have used to justify laws further criminalizing illegal immigration… [But he got his big break targeting Middle Eastern immigrants in the wake of 9/11, when] he helped create a program that required all visiting citizens from 25 mostly Arab countries to be fingerprinted and monitored—a policy that critics said amounted to racial profiling…
Kobach advanced an idea that had long been circulating in conservative legal circles: that local and state officials have the ‘inherent authority’ to enforce federal immigration laws… If local and state governments were to strike out on their own, they could undermine federal efforts, create jurisdictional chaos, and detract from law enforcement efforts by discouraging immigrants from cooperating with police… Kobach joined the Immigration Reform Law Institute and began working with local officials across the country to combat illegal immigration on the ground level… defending legislation in Pennsylvania and Texas that would revoke operating licenses for businesses that hired illegal immigrants and fine landlords who rented to them…
Obama’s Department of Justice has aggressively challenged the major laws that Kobach has helped author. In addition to filing lawsuits against the Arizona and Alabama laws, the DOJ has taken action against Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose officers Kobach helped train in immigration enforcement. In December, Arpaio’s officers were forced to handin their federal credentials due to complaints about their immigration enforcement tactics, which the DOJ called illegal and discriminatory… legal challenges haven’t slowed down Kobach, who has endorsed Mitt Romney and provided the candidate his immigration talking points… He successfully shepherded through a new Kansas voter ID law, claiming that the current laws allowed immigrants to commit voter fraud… He’s now advising Kansas legislators on a bill that would give local police far more latitude in checking the status of suspected illegal immigrants—effectively bringing Arizona’s law to his own backyard.”
But wait, there’s more.
(1). Prevents any claims immigrants might have to human rights or religious freedom by banning the use of international laws or those outside Judeo-Christian traditions in court.
(2). Calls on each of the 50 states, and the District of Columbia, to demand would-be voters produce proof of US citizenship before being allowed to register, and require them to present state-issued photo identification cards before allowing them to actually vote.
(3). Calls on each of the 50 states, and the District of Columbia, to establish laws modeled after AZ SB 1070 in order to pursue and persecute undocumented immigrants—requiring law enforcement officers conduct immigration checks on anyone who has been detained, and making e-verify mandatory for all hiring, regardless of job type or sector.
(4). Calls on the Department of Justice, the US Attorney General, and all other federal entities to drop lawsuits against states and local authorities that have passed such laws.
(5). Denies any and all federal funding to institutions of higher education that allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates, regardless of whether they meet a given state’s residency requirements and/or have graduated from one of its high schools.
“Neo-Neanderthal,” you say?
There’s a special place in hell for someone who was given the exceptional privilege of attending Harvard and then Yale Law School, who is suing the Secretary of Homeland Security so qualified students won’t be able to attend college or graduate school programs because they arrived in the US as children without permanent legal status.
While Jeb Bush lays the groundwork for his 2016 run with the release of a book that declares, “Immigration is vital to America’s future, fueling its growth, vibrancy and creativity.” Kris Kobach (and by extension Mitt Romney) can be found on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch page, and in segments on Rachel Maddow, and other cable news programs, about an irrefutable personal and professional relationship with Russell Pearce—a man whose political aspirations hit a glass ceiling when mounds of evidence surfaced linking him with confirmed neo-Nazi, minuteman border vigilante, and murderer of women and children, J.T. Ready.