Perusing the conservative press in the days after the Republican victories in the November 2002 elections was like watching the triumph scenes in various sword-and-sandal movies of the 1950’s and 60’s, with the reader almost expecting to see outgoing Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle dragged in chains through the streets of Washington. The Stupid Party is not used to winning, and, when it does, it quickly reveals that it lacks the grace and modesty that natural winners always display. Reports in conservative journals with headlines like “Bush Delivers Knock-out Punch,” “Bush’s Winning Hand,” and “Bush’s Big Win” chortled happily over the news that the slowest kid on the team had finally hit a home run. The President himself and his cronies prepared to make full use of their victory to wage war against every country that Richard Perle dislikes, shovel out corporate welfare to the appropriate managerial mammoths, and finish the delicate but urgent mission of constructing a complete police state in the name of the American Creed. Since the Democrats supported most of the same policies, it made little difference which party won the elections.
Nevertheless, the professional apologists for the Republicans leapt at the opportunity to rehearse the standard propaganda line as to how the party had done it. Of course, there was the expected claim that the vast majority of Americans supported the President in his desire to rid the globe of terrorism and tyranny, but there was also the sub-theme that the Republicans were able to win because George W. Bush had succeeded in constructing a new, multiracial coalition that was bleeding disgruntled minorities from the Democrats and transfusing them into sclerotic GOP arteries. Blacks, you see, were conspicuous by their absence from the polls last November, and the Democrats cannot win much of anything without the black vote. As for Hispanics, the propagandists repeated exactly what the Republican National Committee demand-ed they say, which is that Hispanics are turning Republican.
Thus, reporter Ellen Sorokin, in the Washington Times, wrote only one day after the vote that “Hispanic voters were a driving force behind the Republicans’ historic win of both chambers of Congress, party officials and political analysts said yesterday.” The first official she quot-ed was Tom Davis, chairman of the RNC, who avowed that “Their base wasn’t as aroused as our base.” Miss Sorokin also went on to list several races in which the Hispanic vote had supposedly gone to the Republicans and had proved decisive to their victories.
Thus, the President’s brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, was reported as having won reelection “with more than 60 percent of the Latino vote”; New York’s Gov. George Pataki, with “nearly 50 percent”; and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, with “more than one-third of the Latino vote.”
The claim that the Hispanic vote can be won by Republicans is not a new one, of course. It first surfaced in the mid-1990’s when the pro-immigration lobby began to grasp that the success of such grassroots immigration-restriction measures as California’s Proposition 187 was threatening their endless supply of cheap labor, cheap nannies, and exotic restaurants. If only those nasty nativists like Pat Buchanan who support restricting immigration would shut up, they argued, the Republicans might actually win the Hispanic vote, but any mention of restricting immigration only alienates and offends the growing Hispanic electorate.
The claim was dubious on its face, since Hispanics had always voted for the Democrats, with the exception of the anticommunist and largely white Cuban community in Florida. Moreover, almost all polls show that Hispanics support restricting immigration by nearly as large a majority as non-Hispanics, and Proposition 187 itself won no less than a third of the Hispanic vote. California Gov. Pete Wilson, a liberal Republican who was almost universally regarded as politically defunct in 1994, wrapped himself in Proposition 187 and won reelection with 55 percent of the vote, as did five new Republican congressmen from California the same year. Yet the Open Borders lobby has never ceased regurgitating the Big Lie that Proposition 187 was a disaster for Republicans.
George W. Bush was supposed to reverse that “disaster,” since he had won “nearly a majority” (or sometimes, “more than a majority”) of Hispanic voters in Texas in 1998 when he ran for reelection as governor. In fact, he won probably less than 40 percent of the state’s Hispanic vote in 1998 and even less than that nationally in the 2000 presidential election, in which Al Gore carried the Hispanic vote by over 65 percent.
The Republican obsession with winning Hispanics led the party not only to reject immigration control, probably the strongest and most popular issue it had in the last decade, but to propose statehood for Puerto Rico and pander shamelessly to Hispanics on every occasion. Just last year alone, as Miss Sorokin also reported,
More than $9 million was spent by gubernatorial, Senate, and House candidates on nearly 14,000 Spanish-language television spots, setting a nationwide record for non-presidential election years and numerous statewide records.
This obsession was central to a new electoral strategy, replacing the old “Southern strategy,” which sought the votes of Southern and working-class whites. Boast-ing to the Washington Post in 2000 of the glories that the new strategy promised, Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition and now a Republican political consultant, said,
This is a very different party from the party that sits down on Labor Day and cedes the black vote and cedes the Hispanic vote, and tries to drive its percentage of the white vote over 70 percent to win an election.
Yet the truth, though unpleasant for the architects of the new “Hispanic strategy,” is that it is a total flop and that the Republican Party remains dependent on its ability to win white voters. The sheer genius of the abysmal stupidity of the party’s leaders is that—yet again—they managed to miss this truth in the results of the midterm elections.
Steve Sailer, a political reporter for United Press International and a frequent contributor to Vdare.com, made that prediction soon after the 2000 election (as did I in this space before and after the election) and returned to it last November:
Here’s what really happened: the Republicans, benefiting from 9/11, but also from outstanding get out the vote campaigns in white districts . . . raked in the white votes.
All the official talk about the necessity of GOP minority outreach was in effect a smokescreen for The Strategy That Dares Not Speak Its Name.
I am not sure I agree with Mr. Sailer that the Hispanic strategy is merely a “smokescreen.” I am inclined to believe that Republicans of the Newt Gingrich-George W. Bush-Ralph Reed era really are dumb enough to believe that they do not need white voters, do not need to do anything to appeal to them (reduce immigration, support the Confederate flag, oppose gun control, protect industrial jobs, etc.), and really need to rub away the party’s supposed image as “racist” or “nativist” or “insensitive” to minorities, women, and homosexuals in order to gain the votes of these electoral pigeonholes. Why else would they spend so much money and time on ads aimed at Hispanic voters, and why else would they go so far as to propose statehood for the Democratic fortress of Puerto Rico?
Mr. Sailer, however, is clearly correct that the Republican victory last fall had very little to do with Hispanic or black support. What seems to have happened is that virtually the last remaining whites in the Democratic Party simply jumped ship. Thus, a few days after the election, the New York Times reported that, in Mary-land, where Republican Robert Ehrlich defeated Kathleen Kennedy Townsend for the governor’s chair, Miss Townsend, the incumbent lieutenant governor, “lost . . . because of strong turnout in predominantly white counties.” In Georgia, Sonny Perdue became the first Republican to win the governor’s race in the state’s history by “generating a heavy turnout in largely white rural areas.” The turnout in largely white Forsyth County jumped from 20,000 in 1998 to 32,000 last year, while voting in largely white Cherokee County in Atlanta’s suburbs increased by 10,000 votes over 1998. In Florida, where Miss Sorokin had claimed that Jeb Bush won with “more than 60 percent of the Latino vote,” the New York Times reported that the governor “turned a close race into a rout largely by winning predominantly white areas where Democratic leaders thought their candidate . . . had a chance to compete.” The Times concluded that “Democrats . . . are learning
. . . that the party apparently lost thousands of moderate white voters who supported Bill Clinton and helped elect Southern Democratic governors in 1998 and 2000.”
Claims that the Hispanic vote was an irresistible “driving force behind the Republicans’ historic win” are grotesquely exaggerated. Jeb Bush did not win “more than 60 percent” of the Hispanic vote in Florida but 56 percent; until a few years ago, Republican presidential candidates in Florida routinely won around 80 percent of the state’s Hispanics, largely anticommunist Cubans. Those majorities have dwindled considerably in recent years, but for a Republican candidate like Jeb Bush—brother of El Presidente (who did win a bare majority of Florida Hispanics in 2000), fluent in Spanish himself, and equipped with a Mexican wife—to win with less than 60 percent of Hispanics is something of a disgrace.
Governor Pataki also may have won “nearly 50 percent” of the New York Hispanic (largely Puerto Rican) vote, but New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg was able to win a majority of Hispanics in his own victory in 2001, and that is not surprising. The point is not that Hispanics are genetically wedded to the Democratic Party but that, as a low-income, low-skill, increasingly underclass social and ethnic group, they tend to vote for leftwing causes and candidates. If you want a Republican Party made up of Bloombergs and Patakis, then you can get the Hispanic vote easily enough. If you want something like the party of Robert Taft, Ronald Reagan, Jesse Helms, Barry Goldwater, and Pat Buchanan, then you probably cannot expect too many Hispanics to sign up. As for Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s winning reelection with “more than one-third of the Latino vote,” that is on par with George W. Bush winning around 39 percent of Texas Hispanics in 1998 and approximates what Republican presidential candidates have historically won from Hispanics nationally. (The high-water mark of Hispanic support for Republicans is usually considered to be the 37 percent that Reagan won in 1984.)
Mr. Sailer concludes that “all it took” for the “Sailer strategy” to work was “an imminent war to which whites responded with more interest in foreign policy, as should surprise no one.” This assumes, however, that white voters are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about a projected war with Iraq, and I detect no such enthusiasm: Support for the war does not significantly distinguish Republicans from Democrats. The Democrats may have a few peacenik spoilsports like Al Gore, but, in general, they are even more in bed with the War Party than the Republicans are. They have no leader today who is as pro-Arab as George McGovern was pro-Hanoi in 1972, and I doubt that very many white Democrats defected from the party last year because they found its current foreign-policy positions repellent.
My own guess as to why Republicans did so well among white voters last year is that, at last, even the vanishing Yellow Dog is beginning to understand that the party he and his forefathers supported for generations is no longer theirs, that it now belongs to Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Mario Obledo, and Maxine Waters, and those white leaders who were willing to sell the party and the country to them. Clean-cut and plausible young men with Southern accents like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Al Gore can mask that reality only so long, but when they no longer take center stage every day, the truth comes out. Mr. Sailer reported in one of his UPI analyses that the Gallup organization had remarked that “By far the largest divide among American voters continues to be racial”—and so it is. “Gallup discovered that right before the election whites favored the Republicans by a 20-point margin: 58 percent to 38 percent.” Even that gulf is not as wide as the one separating nonwhites from the Republican Party; but it reveals the trend—not toward the Rainbow Republicanism of Ralph Reed, Jack Kemp, Newt Gingrich, and George W. Bush but toward a political culture that is and will remain for generations to come divided along racial lines—a deep and angry scar on the face of the American nation that will be the main legacy of the mass immigration the Republicans refused to halt while there was still a chance.