By Gilberto Hinojosa Texas Democratic Party Chairman
This year’s election showed what we have long known: That the Hispanic vote will fundamentally change how elections are won, in Texas and throughout the country.
Seventy-one percent of Hispanic voters supported President Barack Obama, and those voters turned out in larger numbers than ever before, despite Republicans’ vast attempts to suppress the vote. This level of Democratic support held true for the nation, and it held true for Texas. With Hispanic voters growing in representation in Texas, it is only a matter of time before we turn into a swing, and then a solidly blue, state.
Republicans are on record acknowledging this phenomenon. They are also on record as being scared of what it means. Republican Party of Texas Chairman Steve Munisteri has said, “The Republican Party is living on borrowed time. If every Latino were to vote today in Texas, the Republican Party would lose all of its statewide seats.”
Senator-elect Ted Cruz recently said, “In not too many years, Texas could switch from being all Republican to all Democrat … the Republican Party would cease to exist.”
Rather than changing their policies to meet the needs of Hispanics (like providing much needed funding for public education and health care and supporting the Dream Act), Republicans plan to offer up candidates with Hispanic names, thinking that Hispanics will be fooled into voting for them and against their, and their families’, interest. This tactic didn’t work for Cruz’s campaign, and it won’t work for others.
Yet Republicans continue with this lack of forward thinking and are now rallying around who they hope will be their new savior, George P. Bush — a Florida transplant with no political experience other than inheriting his family’s name. We’ve been through that before. We have already suffered through one George Bush. America, and definitely Texas, can’t survive another.
Hispanic voters, as it turns out, are smart. They overwhelmingly support Democrats because we believe in educating their children, caring for their elders and ensuring that their family has health care. They know that Democrats support the Dream Act and that we don’t believe that wasting $7.3 billion on a border wall is the answer to immigration reform.
As the Hispanic voting population continues to increase in Texas, so too will the turnout rates for the community. We’ve seen how grassroots organizing efforts in Colorado and Nevada increased Latino turnout and transformed those states blue. A similar effort in Texas will reap equal rewards. That work will occur alongside the continued rise of elected Democratic Latino leaders. Julian and Joaquin Castro, Juan Garcia (assistant secretary of the Navy), Rafael Anchia and Leticia Van de Putte are just a few of the promising leaders in the Democratic Party.
That Republicans think Hispanics can be fooled to vote against their interests is insulting. Such thinking just reinforces why the Democratic Party is, and will remain, the party of choice for Hispanics. And why such support will soon turn Texas blue.