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.