The GOP’s Missing Voter: Hispanics
Despite four years of lackluster economic recovery, rampant cronyism, expansion of the welfare state, and bipartisan dissatisfaction with Washington, a majority of Americans decided on Tuesday that they want more of the same. The uninspiring status quo, which has inhabited Washington for far too long, will continue to survive. Meanwhile, the United States’ future prosperity—not the GOP—will prove to be the real loser of this week’s election.
As a Libertarian, I will be the first to admit that Mitt Romney was not the ideal free-market candidate, but there is no doubt that his vision for the nation was strikingly different from what President Obama articulated as the “ideal state.” In fact, it seems as though a majority of today’s leftists have dropped all efforts to consider free-market solutions to our nation’s multitude of policy problems. From Obamacare, to the massive amounts spent on a failed stimulus and multiple bailouts, Democrats have made it clear that a bloated and highly interventionist government is their desired course for the nation.
If conservatives hope to stem the tide of economic malaise and return to a nation of smaller, limited government, the Republican Party DOES NOT need to become more “moderate” as many liberal pundits have suggested.
However, the GOP does need to MODERNIZE and focus on creating a more appealing, consistent MESSAGE in order to gain a competitive edge in future elections.
One important way that conservatives can do that in the future is by embracing a sensible, free-market immigration policy that will appeal to Hispanic voters and enhance the American labor market.
It’s no secret that the Hispanic vote is—and will continue to be—a growing influence on the outcome of U.S. elections as Latinos continue to make up a larger portion of the nation’s constituency. In this week’s Presidential election Hispanics constituted 10 percent of the electorate, and they voted overwhelmingly for President Obama—58 to 40 in Florida, 87 to 10 in Colorado, 80 to 17 in Nevada, and 66 to 31 in Virginia. Essentially, if Mitt Romney had received 44 percent of the Hispanic vote as President Bush did in 2004, Barack Obama would be packing up the White House right now.
So how can the GOP appeal to this demographic while embracing sound policy at the same time? Here’s a thought: stop trying to talk to Hispanics about economics when you simultaneously threaten to deport their grandmother because you believe she is “stealing American jobs.”
Conservatives claim to fight for free-markets and limited government, but the Republican Party’s current stance on immigration and labor markets embraces the grand economic fallacy of labor market protectionism—a policy that progressive politicians originally initiated.
With national unemployment hovering around 8 percent, it may seem unwise to allow more immigrant workers to enter the United States by creating more open immigration policies. But the large majority of Americans have no reason to fear losing their job to an immigrant worker. Immigrants typically fill gaps in the labor market at both the high end and the low end of the skill spectrum, from farm workers and dishwashers to computer scientists and physics professors. This is not to say that Americans don’t perform those jobs as well, but not in sufficient numbers needed to meet demand during years of normal growth. As a result, immigrants complement most American workers rather than compete against them.
For example, unemployment in the architecture and engineering sector is only 4.9 percent nationally. In areas of the country where engineers are in high demand, the scramble to find qualified engineers is intense and competitive. Many immigrants coming from Asia and other areas around the globe have the education, skills, and qualifications to meet this demand, which will provide quality goods and services to U.S. consumers. Furthermore, many of these immigrants who come to the US with highly specialized skills end up starting their own businesses, which in turn employ American workers.
On the low skilled side, California’s farm workers are the scarcest they’ve been in recent memory. Yet, a statewide unemployment rate of almost 11 percent is still not prompting native Californians to work in the fields. Why should the United States not embrace a more sensible immigration policy that will allow workers from Latin and South America to fill this needed gap? Ultimately, it would improve the lives of immigrants through employment opportunities while also allowing Domestic farmers to compete against foreign markets by reducing their labor costs.
In short, conservatives must begin applying free-market economics more consistently and embrace a more open, sensible immigration policy. Such a policy will not only capture more votes from Hispanics and other immigrant groups in future elections, but it will also enhance the American labor market.