Hispanics Are The Future

Tony Blankley hits, I think, on the central lesson of this election. There are lots of things that may be said about candidates, ideas, etc., etc. and they aren't unimportant. But this is the big thing, looking to the future.

Today there are certain profound values -- free markets and respect for life -- that are renounced at the price of our soul. Free markets, particularly, are under the immediate, explicit assault of the next government. Life may be undermined more surreptitiously.

But as a national cause championed by a national party, a conservative agenda must, for example, learn to speak persuasively to a near majority of Hispanic-Americans, or we will be merely a debating society.

When Texas joins states such as Colorado, New Mexico(and even North Carolina, Virginia, Arizona and Florida), where Hispanic votes are necessary for victory, there is no possibility of national governance without finding that voice.

Our challenge is not to retreat to the comfort of self-congratulatory exile but to sweat and bleed -- and be victorious -- in the arena of public opinion.

The tallies aren't all in, but a cursory look at the numbers suggests to me that the tipping point in the battleground states was Hispanics --and specifically, Catholic Hispanics (white Catholics went for McCain). The Church in this country has not been on the side of the angels in dealing with immigrants, I'm afraid. We offer humane treatment and counsel against bigotry, which is good, but there is nothing in our various Hispanic ministries that teaches love for this country and understanding of its institutions.

As I've written extensively, I favor a generous immigration policy. But immigrants often bring with them their residual attitudes from their home countries about government: they're used to thinking of themselves as wards of the state and not as self-governing citizens (Tito the Builder and many like him notwithstanding). Those mental habits are hard to break (and even native-born citizens are starting to adopt them), and the Democratic Party for years has known how to court votes on the basis of handing out turkeys and voter registration cards at Christmas.

In candor, most Church ministries to immigrants I'm aware of, however well-intentioned, encourage the "ward" mentality rather than helping people be free, and the US Bishops have been advocates in general for policies which encourage that kind of dependence. The Church could do a major service to this country over the next few years if it gave more thought to its Hispanic ministry. I think I may write a memo for Archbishop Chaput.