If you want to attract a new generation of Republican voters, focus on issues, not race. And when it comes to wooing Americans of Hispanic descent, or what the mainstream media mistakenly labels as Latinos, Hispanic-Americans, etc., my party needs to learn a lot if it is going to succeed in the long-term.
Balkanizing American politics is a bad idea – the Democrats have been doing this for some time. As Thomas Sowell pens in his most recent piece, “When it comes to racial rhetoric, the Democrats outdo the Republicans by miles.” Indeed. However, there is a sector in the Republican Party, including some in the Republican National Committee (RNC), that think using Spanish-language media to attract voters is a good idea. With a very few exceptions, they are dead wrong.
There are plenty of studies that clearly demonstrate that a majority of voters of Hispanic descent get their news from English, not Spanish, news sources. This is not new and has been the norm for decades. When I worked at the RNC there were efforts that micro-targeted certain communities in Spanish, but very limited. In a recent piece by Linda Chavez on this issue, she points out that how we talk to a particular voter group is more important than gimmicky Spanish-language media ads.
There is an effort afoot by several Florida Members of Congress that has resulted in several GOP presidential nominee hopefuls telling the Univision network that they will not appear at a Spanish-language media debate. You can read more about it here. I applaud the long-overdue effort, however, the GOP should go a little further and re-focus how we target this voting group and abandon a majority of Spanish-language media advertising – this is what will. It does not work and, when we do it, we provide ammunition for the news department to beat up on Republicans over and over again.
For decades the Univision evening news has served a mouthpiece for radical liberal causes. Its pro-Latin America, mainly pro-Mexico stance on immigration and other issues, distorts reality beyond comprehension that its news reports border on propganda. It has fueled anti-U.S. sentiment through its reporting that has gone unchecked, mainly, because it is in Spanish. Despite this, an increasing number of consultants have succeeded in convincing the RNC and GOP presidential hopefuls that buying advertising on Univision is a good use of money.
Another big lie that has political legs in the GOP lately is that for Hispanic voters, immigration is the only issue they truly care about. That is simply not true. Jobs and economic security are the number one issues. Immigration is an “issue” if you are seeking to sell advertising for Univision, Telemundo, and CNN Español, among a few others. By the way, the Spanish news reporting in Mexico and throughout Latin America for that matter, is not much better.
Boycotting Univision is not the answer, but its a start. Let’s hope that the RNC and other GOP groups can use the 2012 cycle to focus our party monies on campaign strategies that work and not waste time or other resources on hokey Spanish-language advertising campaigns that by and large do not work. There is a market for Spanish-language media but it is largely outside U.S. borders. We should take advantage of it as a public diplomacy tool, to spread and defend American exceptionalism, but not as a political device for U.S. elections.