Friday, November 08, 2002
Ron Unz's latest column tells me something I didn't know: that a major difference between Romney and O'Brien in the Massachusetts Governor's race was on Question 2, the anti-bi-lingual-ed initiative. (Romney was for it, O'Brien against.) The initiative won by more than 2-to-1; Romney won by a margin of around 10%. Unz also claims more people voted on Question 2 than in the race for Governor. I know that much of the gubernatorial race was anti-O'Brien rather than pro-Romney. But nonetheless, Unz has a point. Supporting Question 2 can't have hurt Romney. It may have helped him. May have helped him enough to win in liberal Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, conservative Republican Governor Owens campaigned against the equivalent initiative in that state, joining the side of the teachers' unions, extreme Latino activists, and a liberal heiress willing to air out-and-out lies to scare white Coloradans about an influx of Mexicans in order to ensure her kids get to learn Spanish from native-speakers. To say nothing of being willing to ensure that the Mexican kids - already in Colorado schools, of course - do not learn English. Owens won, and the initiative lost. This is how the GOP plans to deal with the rising tide of Hispanic voters - by pandering simultaneously to white nativism and Latino multicultural extremists?
And remember California? They had a Governor's race, too. The incumbent was the least-popular Governor in the country. Still is, unfortunately. The GOP turned down a pragmatic, centrist mayor in favor of a spoon-fed, error-prone rich novice candidate who they saw as a more reliable conservative. But whaddaya know, one issue where Riordan showed real backbone - and one conservative issue where showing that backbone in the Governor's mansion really matters, where decisions now can have long-term consequences - was bi-lingual education. Rick Riordan called it "downright evil." Which it is. But that's not the take we got from solid-conservatives like Owens and Simon.
I blogged about this on my very first day of blogging, urging my nonexistent readers to vote for Riordan on this issue alone. I quite seriously think this should be a litmus test for GOP candidates: where the issue is on the ballott, will you support an end to bi-lingual education or won't you? If the guy says yes, vote for him. If he says anything else, he's either ill-informed - in which case, write to him, and inform him - or he's yellow - in which case, curb your enthusiasm, 'cause he won't stand up for truth and right when the chips are down - or he's a miserable cynic - in which case, vote against.
There is a movement sweeping the country, led by the crusading Mr. Unz, which the GOP should be riding to victories all over America. But the GOP as a party is sitting it out. It's a disgrace. It's sowing the seeds of social conflict that will hurt the country. And it is leaving the issue open for smart Democrats who, should they claim this mantle, will be able to frustrate every GOP attempt to woo Hispanic voters for the next generation. If the GOP is not the party of assimilation and empowerment, then Hispanics have no reason to vote for it, long-term. All the Hispanophobes at National Review and elsewhere better start stumping. THIS is the social-policy question that matters more than any other for the future of the GOP in the West, because this is the issue that will decide whether the next generation of Hispanic voters sees the GOP as holding out a hand to welcome them in or cynically conniving to keep them out.