Immigration has been an important issue of discussion lately and a huge headache to socially conservative Republicans. From earlier talks in 2012 about “self-deportation”, to President Obama capturing over 70% of the Latino vote in 2012, and to now this year when Congress has finally decided to address immigration reform. All throughout this debate, Republicans have done an amazingly good job at making themselves seem like the party of old, white people.
I don't believe there is much doubt in anyone's mind that the issues against immigration reform have largely been due to ethnicity and race. While not all Republicans act in a racist manner, the party does seem prone to racist tendencies. They also do a bad job (or two) at trying to make themselves seem inclusive of minorities.
Enter George P. Bush (on the right).
Bush is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, nephew of former President George W. Bush, and grandson of former President George H. W. Bush. He is also running for office as Texas Land Commissioner.
Bush, who is part Hispanic, might actually be Republican's future hope of keeping the Latino vote competitive in Texas. Perhaps one day too, nationally.
Read more after the jump.George P. Bush announced and kicked off his campaign for Texas Land Commissioner earlier this year. While the position is not known to many Texans, it is one worth keeping note. Land commissioner traditionally has been a steppingstone to higher office. This was David Dewhurst's previous job before becoming Lt. Governor.
This past weekend, Bush visited the Rio Grande Valley honoring veterans as key note speaker at the local Food Bank's fundraiser. All the proceeds went directly to the food bank. The Valley is home to many veterans and to a large population of Hispanics. This isn't Bush's first visit to the region. He has been to the Valley before to rally support for Republicans.
Bush is doing what few Republicans — and some Democrats — ever care to do. He is interacting with our community. He is making himself seem like one of us, a member and friend of the people.
Bush, whose mother is from Mexico, has kept in touch with his Hispanic roots and speaks Spanish. Originally from Texas, he grew up in Florida where his father was governor from 1998 until 2007. He graduated from the University in Houston before returning back to Florida to teach in inner-city Miami. Bush is a strong proponent of school choice.
When asked about his campaign strategy, and whether knowing Spanish and being Hispanic will get Hispanics to vote for him, Bush stated he thinks, “Hispanics look for a friend, they look for someone who understands, whose willing to relate, to hear their issues and welcome them to the party and to their campaigns. That's what we're doing.”
That makes sense.
Both his father and uncle support immigration reform. Former President George W. Bush recently made headlines again by weighing in favor of the issue. During the 2004 presidential election, George W. Bush managed to receive over 40% of the Latino vote. Last year, Jeb Bush criticized the Republican Party in needing to change their tone on Latinos and immigration.
While President Obama may have managed to receive over 70% of the Latino vote in 2012, one can argue this was largely due to the hostility Republicans have created towards Latinos. It certainly wasn't because President Obama championed immigration reform during his first term, or even made a convincing effort to push for it. And it certainly wasn't because more immigrants are being deported under President Obama than when Bush was president.
Even though George P. Bush has yet to prove himself as an elected official, his last name is Bush and he belongs to a very strong political family. His strategy to become in touch with the Latino community is something Democrats should not underestimate. Any efforts to turn Texas into a battleground state through its “changing demographics,” a.k.a. Latinos, will have to match these efforts.
Hispanics account for two-thirds of Texas' growth over the past decade and now make up 38 percent of the state's total population. It's a diverse and growing population. The community needs to be engaged in such a manner that they feel as though they are part of the movement, not just the engine through which change will be pushed. Just because George P. Bush is Hispanic, speaks Spanish, and has a well-known last name, doesn't mean he truly represents the needs of the community. Our candidates should, if we wish for Latinos to continue to support the Democratic Party.
Because let's face it, Texas is a majority/minority state and should already be purple. We have a lot of work to do. Can't quite call an inevitable victory just yet when there are many obstacles (and distractions) left to overcome.