Jeb Bush talks with The Wall Street Journal about the Latino vote:
His insistence on engagement is not a call for multiculturalism. Quite the opposite: "The beauty of America -- one of the things that so separates us [from the rest of the world] -- is this ability to take people from disparate backgrounds that buy into the American ideal."
With regard to assimilation, he says, Hispanics have much to be proud of. "Second-generation Hispanics marry non-Hispanics at a higher rate than second-generation Irish or Italians. Second-generation Hispanics' English language capability rates are higher than previous immigrant groups'."
Jon Chait is a little appalled:
I don't mean to be oversensitive here, but it really seems as if Bush is arguing that republicans should embrace Latino immigration because Latinos are becoming less Latino and more white. Is that really a good political sales pitch?
I'm not sure if it's a good sales pitch, but it's basically the truth. Hispanics -- like Italians and Irish before them -- are on the path to becoming "white," and as intermarriage rates increase -- and the racial divide moves from white/black to non-black/black -- odds are good that the children of these unions will be perceived as white. In 2050, the United States won't be majority-minority as much as it will be a place where a nice portion of the majority has Latino heritage.
This is excellent news for Republicans. Provided they don't completely alienate Latinos (which is a big "if"), there will be plenty of space for a party that appeals to the demographic majority. On the other hand, if the GOP continues to demonize Latinos, it might find itself in a world where second, third, and fourth generation Latinos are aware of -- and hostile to -- its anti-immigrant past. Which is all to say that Republicans should really consider listening to Jeb Bush, if they want to stay electorally relevant.
-- Jamelle Bouie
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