The RNC's Florida Director for Hispanic Outreach is now a Democrat. Pablo Pantoja, who served tours in Iraq and Kuwait, signaled the change in his party allegiance in an open email, citing the GOP's "culture of intolerance." Pantoja's move should terrify Republicans who have serious designs on taking back the White House in 2016, because it's an honest, legitimate expression of the Latino constituency's dissatisfaction.
The last straw for Pantoja seems to have been the Heritage Foundation's bogus immigration economics report, and one (now former) Heritage researcher's Harvard dissertation which demonstrated lower IQ scores in the Hispanic population and extrapolated these findings to immigration policy.
In his email, Pantoja quotes one of the dissertation's more polemic statements linking race and intelligence: "No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against."
The Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank known for its conservative agenda, distanced itself from the dissertation and its author, Jason Richwine, who has resigned. Meanwhile, our nation's leaders on both sides of the aisle took little time in criticizing the Heritage immigration report, which claimed it would cost Americans $6.3 trillion to naturalize an estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S.
Pantoja's change of heart perfectly encapsulates the GOP's nightmare-becoming-reality: even lower Hispanic support than Romney's abysmal numbers in 2012, which were the lowest since 1972.
The Republican Party is out of touch with Hispanic voters; that's old news. What's darkly humorous from a cynical, leftist perspective is the GOP's continuous bungling of its relationship with its Latino constituency. From Romney's "self-deportation" comments right through to the laughably inhuman amendments to the immigration bill proposed by Republican congressmen who either don't understand immigration reform's role in recuperating the Latino vote, or, inconceivably, don't want Latinos voting for them to begin with.
Overwhelmingly obvious is the lack of care taken by the Republicans to understand Latino voters, mend relations, and court them seriously. And by that I mean flowers and a steak dinner, not 2 a.m. text messages. Pantoja made as much clear in his email.
"The pseudo-apologies appear to be a quick fix to deep-rooted issues in the Republican Party in hopes that it will soon pass and be forgotten," he wrote.
Marco Rubio, a prominent Republican senator and a Latino, has tried to limit the alienation of Latino voters. In championing immigration reform, Rubio seeks to bridge what he sees as the major gap between his party and Hispanic Americans. Yet some studies suggest that Latinos stand farther to the left than Rubio might like it. One recent survey places the Hispanic population as more liberal and in greater support of big government than the general population. So even if Hispanics stand with Republicans on abortion (by the slimmest of margins), they lean towards to the Democrats on the macro issues.
Pablo Pantoja, the very man whose job it was to reach out to Hispanic voters, changed his political allegiance because he couldn't stomach the Republican Party's "culture of intolerance." It makes me wonder if they even really tried to keep him on board.