Commentary by By Al Cardenas - Republicans did not win in 2012 because we are too white, too male and too old. Some still don’t want to face the truth that we lost because the fastest-growing sectors of our population are entrenched in the Democratic Party. We did not win because Republicans failed to acknowledge this reality and move forward fearlessly. If that doesn’t change, we will not just be committing political malpractice. It will be political suicide.
The 2008 losses were expected. We had had eight years of a Republican administration, the wear and tear of division within our ranks, and a Republican nominee whose strength was not the economy. The economy predictably was the focus after an unprecedented meltdown occurred in the final stages of that election.
Up until Election Day 2012, we fully expected to win. After a dismal four years economically, President Obama seemed to be the most vulnerable incumbent since Jimmy Carter. But the Nov. 6 elections resulted in one disappointment after another, leaving conservatives angry, bewildered and unsure about where we go from here.
There were not enough conservatives, establishment Republicans and a majority of independents combined for us to win in 2012 and that won’t change in 2016 if our party maintains the status quo. We need support and votes from a larger share of youth, women and minorities. The greatest gains to be had are with Latinos the fastest-growing voting bloc in our country. In fact, 23.7 million Hispanics were eligible to vote in 2012, and most of them were young voters. When you consider that 1 out of 5 Americans today and one-fifth of all children in public schools are Hispanic, it is easy to recognize the importance of this community in discussions about electoral politics.
The Republican message has resonated with Hispanics before. Both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush received more than 40 percent of the Hispanic vote. This was not by happenstance. They worked at it, and they respected our community. Reagan and Mr. Bush also were the last two presidents to make immigration reform a priority, an issue on which the conservative movement and Republican Party need to take a lead in order to open the gates to a waiting constituency. Read full column