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immigration politics
Kochs Get Smart on Latino Outreach
The political competition of the 21st century begins: the Koch brothers are ramping up their outreach to Latinos through a new organization called the the LIBRE Initiative. The Washington Post reports that the Koch-funded organization is seeking to catch the left up on“engaging directly with the Latino community.” To do that, LIBRE has run classes to help Latinos prepare to take a driver’s license test—as well as other practical initiatives:
LIBRE has started offering Latinos tax preparation help, wellness checkups, scholarships and food giveaways in Texas, Colorado, Florida and other states. It has bought ads touting the “free market,” smaller government and school choice, and its officials are a growing presence on Spanish-language news stations talking about the virtues of “self-reliance.” […]

By providing tax prep and driving classes, they are building goodwill in the Latino community and what they call a “platform for civic engagement.” LIBRE officials take pains to say they are advocating policies, not specific candidates.

It’s a canny move. To remain competitive, the GOP has to build support among immigrants and ethnic voters from the post-1960s migration wave. Party-building among immigrants has almost always been about service delivery, helping hands, and cultural outreach—ideology has been much less of a factor than wonks like to think it is.
It looks as if GOP activists are beginning to rediscover these old truths, and that will force Democrats to up their game, too. Frankly, a healthy two-party competition for immigrant votes is a good thing for the country. Historically, it has been one of the reasons that immigration has worked out well here. Politicians and power-brokers, beginning at the local level, are forced to listen to the newcomers, figure out what they want and need, and find ways to get it to them.
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  • qet

    Which immigrants, the legal or the illegal? Doesn’t that make all the difference? I also fail to understand Via Meadia’s seeming enthusiasm for a return of Tammany Hall. I thought the words were “give us your huddled masses yearning to be free,” not “yearning for service delivery and outreach.” Sure, that is a naive thought. I know better. But I thought the Tammany Hall model was discredited, officially, long ago. Besides–nothing the Koch Bros. do is non-ideological, remember? Ask the United Negro College Fund. Unless the Koch Bros. want to make the GOP into the Democratic Party 2.0 (which they may well might; the super-wealthy can afford to live their lives beyond the “externalities” of political choices), then whatever work they are financing will of necessity have to have an ideological character, if only to induce potential voters to vote GOP.

    • FriendlyGoat

      A few tens of millions of dollars of service delivery can buy a few trillion dollars of multi-year tax cuts and regulation cuts if you win national elections. It’s a “canny move”, just as TAI says it is. It also relies on an assumption that Latinos’ political ideology can be purchased “quite economically”. Is that true?

      • JR

        You mean like tax loopholes used by George Soros?

        • FriendlyGoat

          Yes, I suppose. If Soros has been funding Latino community services for the purpose of electing legislators who enacted loopholes and regs to enrich him and his heirs, then Soros would be like Koch.

          • JR

            So when liberals donate money, they do it out of pure altruism and when conservatives/libertarians donate money, they do it for their own enrichment? Gotcha…

          • FriendlyGoat

            You asked if Soros is like the Koch situation described in this article. I agreed with you that if Soros is—-or has been—-doing what Koch is doing, then, yes, Soros would be like Koch. What’s wrong with that?

  • Enemy Leopard

    I agree with qet the TAI analysis misses the mark here, but not by too much. The excerpt from the Washington Post makes it clear that the Koch initiative contains an ideological component: “ads touting the ‘free market,’ smaller government and school choice” and “a growing presence on Spanish-language news stations talking about the virtues of ‘self-reliance.'” TAI is correct to say that ideology is less of a factor to recent immigrants than many “wonks” like to think it is, but the tone here overly downplays the importance of ideological engagement. A politics that debases groups of people by reducing them to their material wants, without showing them the respect of engaging their minds, is a poor one indeed.

    But TAI is correct to emphasize the apolitical aspects of the Koch initiative. One reason that certain groups – the young, the poor, minorities – are disinclined to vote for Republicans is that, frankly, they think Republicans are nasty people. That they’re racist, sexist, and homophobic lapdogs of the rich and powerful. In a perversion of reality, they think that conservative Christians – whom they equate with Republicans – are principally motivated by hatred. If they never actually meet a Christian, except perhaps while serving one a cup of coffee at Starbucks, this view isn’t going to change. More than anything else right now, Christians who want to impact the broader American culture need to lovingly serve those who aren’t like them.

    This isn’t to say that political struggles are unimportant; school choice, which is the conservative initiative with the greatest potential to immediately and dramatically improve the circumstances of the urban poor, isn’t going to become a reality without first breaking the hold of teachers unions over state governments. It’s also worth noting that the benefits of conservative ideals like the free market are largely invisible in everyday life; the average American might not see how the existence of Walmart saves him hundreds of dollars per year, even if he doesn’t shop there himself. But it’s become clear to me that the most important part of civic engagement occurs away from the political process as such. Conservatives like to speak of the efficacy of private charity in meeting the needs of the dispossessed – but if their words are to be taken seriously, if they’re not just a bunch of self-serving tripe, then conservatives need to be out there, engaging with people who are hurting. The Koch initiative is a good step in this direction.

    Note that nothing I’ve written here involves government activism; Moynihan’s “benign neglect” may in the long run be better for the poor than the destructive system of government programs ostensibly aimed at helping them, at least from the perspective of public policy, but this says nothing at all about the wisdom or morality of private charitable efforts. Put frankly, if you’re a Christian, or even just a conservative, but most especially if you consider yourself a Christian conservative, then you ought to be out there, engaging with the poor, getting to know them as people, and lovingly working to help them as best you can. This kind of engagement has been shamefully lacking in American culture (which isn’t to say that Americans as a group do worse than the rest of the world).

    Most Americans are deluding themselves about their personal commitment to, say, charity for the poor or racial reconciliation. For example, 78% of Americans say that every church should strive for racial diversity, but only 51% say that they would be most comfortable visiting a church where multiple ethnicities are well represented. Even more, only 13% of Protestant churches are substantially racially integrated (http://www.lifewayresearch.com/2014/01/17/research-racial-diversity-at-church-more-dream-than-reality/). One might say that this is just human nature – and that’s absolutely correct – but it’s such parts of our nature that we’re called to struggle against. People tend to like diversity as a concept, just not in their own lives (one ought not direct this point only at the massive, yawning hypocrisy of the genteel left here). In short, if you want to effect real change in the world, put your time and money where your ideals lie. If you think that abortion is awful, donate to a pregnancy counseling center. If you want to see racial reconciliation, get to know people of different races. And if you want Hispanics to consider voting for Republicans, well, at least it doesn’t hurt to help them file their taxes.

    • Anthony

      Humane and thought provoking, thanks.

    • Fred

      I agree with almost everything you say. One quibble though. As a Roman Catholic, I am most comfortable attending a Roman Catholic church. The one I do attend happens to be ethnically diverse (white and Filipino mostly, but also Hispanics and a few African Americans). I am quite comfortable there, but if it were not ethnically diverse but still Roman Catholic, I would be equally comfortable. As in education and employment “diversity” is a shibboleth. What counts is what the church says and does, not the color or accents of those who say and do it.

  • Rick Johnson

    What has the GOP got to do with free markets and small government? The Republicans are as high taxing and over regulating as the Democrats. Most Republicans wouldn’t recognise a free market or small government if they fell over one.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Many of the GOP Presidential candidates are going “all in” for protecting the working class by reducing legal and illegal immigration which take jobs from Americans and drive wages down with an oversupply of labor. So saying that the GOP is going after the immigrant vote is wrong, they are going after the middle-class working family.

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