Someone should listen to John McCain. Asked by First Read whether he thought Arizona was in play this election cycle, help McCain reportedly responded “I think that if not this election cycle, the demographics are that Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, even Texas will all be in play.” The Senator then added, “We have to fix our problems with the Hispanics.”
McCain is absolutely correct. As I have noted previously, the demographic tides are indeed shifting rapidly within the United States in ways that do not favor the GOP. Specifically, Hispanics are growing at a much faster clip than the whites that make up the GOP base and, should they decide to vote, the polls mentioned above suggest that they are increasingly likely to vote Democrat (if they vote, of course).
So where does a solution start? Senator McCain told First Read that “It starts with a way to address the issue of immigration in a humane and caring fashion–at the same time emphasize the need to secure our borders.” I agree with the old war hero here as well. Unfortunately, the highly visible fight for the 2012 GOP nomination and for the White House features Republicans that are decidedly not compassionate or thoughtful on the issue of illegal immigration, which of course deeply affects the Hispanic and Latino communities within the United States.
The likely frontrunner, former Gov. Mitt Romney, has run a commercial on immigration that features prison wire as the backdrop of a revolving display of ominous statistics on illegal immigration. But this pales in comparison the rhetoric of the “other than Mitt crowd.” In his failed re-election bid for his old Senate seat, the Santorum campaign attempted to label his opponent as an “amnesty” supporting sissy and in a clip featured on his YouTube channel from one of the Senate debates, he implies that many illegal immigrants are also identity thieves. Santorum ripped into Newt Gingrich for supporting granting “amnesty” to illegal immigrants.
Thankfully, if Mitt Romney wins the nomination, he probably will avoid the sort of “round up the illegals and ship them out of here” rhetoric that might otherwise be expected because, well, Mitt Romney once had a reasonable position on illegal immigration before he decided he wanted to be the Republican nominee for President. But McCain is right: going into the future, the GOP must actually be willing to address this problem in a thoughtful manner if it is to hold onto the political territory it has claimed as its own for decades.