Texas isn't really a red state anymore. It just doesn't know it yet. The Hispanic population nationwide grew from 35 million to 50 million over the last decade or so, and 20 percent of that growth was in Texas. Meanwhile, the white bloc that does all the electing around here is no longer a majority. It's only a matter of time before the voter rolls reflect the fact the Lone Star State is in play.
It's mystifying, then, that at a time of tectonic demographic shifting, the Republican Party would choose to codify its enmity toward Hispanic immigrants. As we might have mentioned, there's a Grand Ol' party kicking off over in Tampa, where the Republican platform is getting a tune-up. Abortion should be outlawed, they say, even where rape is involved. And immigration laws should be strictly enforced, with no humanitarian-minded compromises for the undocumented youths brought to the country by their parents.
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Many of the platform's immigration amendments were suggested by Kansas secretary of state and immigration warrior Kris Kobach, who authored Farmers Branch's anti-immigrant housing ordinance. For example, it's now party policy that all employers should verify their employees' immigration status through the E-Verify system. They believe a double-layer fence should span a more militarized, U.S.-Mexican border. And forget any sort of DREAM Act-like amnesty for young people who grew up in America, even if they weren't born here. Instead, Republicans simply encourage them to self-deport, which is something ICE actually already does.
Just imagine living in a Texas with all the swing-vote clout of a Florida or Wisconsin, where casting a blue vote doesn't amount to pissing into a Possum Kingdom wildfire. And imagine that the emerging demographic to court in this state instead feels marginalized by a Republican Party that treats folks who may be an uncle, a cousin, or a friend like some common criminals, unworthy of mercy and sanctuary. It reveals a kind of terminal political nearsightedness in the GOP, pandering to a contracting constituency.
Besides, it isn't like John McCain swept into Texas in 2008. The senator from Arizona won by only 946,584 votes. Even now, there are a few million Latinos in Texas who are unregistered but eligible to vote. Some 48 percent of Texas youth under 18 are Latino.
Maybe it won't be this November, or even 2016, but soon enough the GOP will have big trouble on its hands, and they're going to find it in Texas.