But today, the Republican Party has failed to put forward a message that builds a winning coalition. We are losing middle class voters, Latinos, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, moderates and women. The list could go on.
According to exit polls, turnout among Hispanic voters increased, while it dropped among other segments of the electorate, including whites. And the number of Latino voters is going to continue to grow with one concluding “the Hispanic electorate is likely to double by 2030.” To examine the practical effect of this, consider that in Florida, there are 190,000 more Hispanics living in the state than in 2008 and the percentage of Latinos grew from 14 percent of the electorate in 2008 to 17 percent in 2012.
And these numbers are not isolated; Hispanics continue to increase their footprint in states like Arizona, Texas, among others. Unless Republicans can compete for these votes, it is difficult to make an argument they can win national elections in the years to come. Clearly, much of this is also associated with the person at the top of the ticket, the individual appeals he/she makes and the kind of campaign they run, but there is also a party-wide dynamic that merits attention.
Today, the fastest growing segment of the electorate is hard working, conservative, God fearing and fully invested in the promise of America, yet Republican candidates can’t seriously compete for their votes. It is a sad, but, with very few exceptions, true statement.
The party has been defined by voices that fail to fairly or honestly represent its values. It was not that long ago that Americans of all backgrounds viewed the Grand Old Party as one of opportunity, ideas and optimism.
The bottom line is Republicans can be anti-illegal immigration yet pro-immigrant. There is middle ground here with regard to immigration reform and we must find it.
Language that speaks seriously, thoughtfully and soberly about changes taking place in our nation can be conveyed, while also acknowledging and celebrating the socio-economic contributions so many make every day to our country.
Today, Latinos – some of whom are not citizens – heroically wear our nation’s uniform abroad in defense of freedoms and liberties they don’t fully possess. They deserve better than finger pointing and excuse making. They, and others, deserve to see and experience that the greatness of America has always been based in its idealism and ingenuity.
An important first step in the return of Republicans to a broad and rising party is not overly complicated: the voices of those seeking addition and solutions will need to resonate more loudly than the calls of those pursuing division and blame. The path toward great certainty and consequence starts with reclaiming the debate, defining what we stand for and adhering to the qualities we believe in. There is not a moment to waste.
Ortiz is a Republican strategist.