A couple of weeks ago, the former director for Hispanic outreach for the Republican Party in Florida, Pablo Pantoja, changed from Republican to Democrat. This was only a couple of months after the Republican Party of Florida had announced a push to reach out to Latinos. Let me tell you something about him before I quote some of his reasons.
He has served with the National Guard and was called to serve in Iraq and Kuwait after 9/11. He currently works for The Libre Initiative, a non-partisan, center-right organization espousing limited government and free enterprise. So, he is a long way from being a “liberal.” Last year, he had quietly left his job with the Republican Party after only about three months on the job. So, why did he switch to Democrat this year, and why did he go public with his complaints?
Well, actually, he did not go public. He wrote a letter to a friend. His friend asked whether he could make his letter public and Mr. Pantoja agreed. What did he say in that letter? Well, here are some quotes from it:
… It doesn’t take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today. I have wondered before about the seemingly harsh undertones about immigrants and others. Look no further; a well-known organization recently confirms the intolerance of that which seems different or strange to them.
Studies geared towards making – human beings – viewed as less because of their immigrant status to outright unacceptable claims, are at the center of the immigration debate. Without going too deep on everything surrounding immigration today, the more resounding example this past week was reported by several media outlets.
A researcher included as part of a past dissertation his theory that “the totality of the evidence suggests a genetic component to group differences in IQ.” The researcher reinforces these views by saying “No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.”
Although the organization distanced themselves from those assertions, other immigration-related research is still padded with the same racist and eugenics-based innuendo. Some Republican leaders have blandly (if at all) denied and distanced themselves from this but it doesn’t take away from the culture within the ranks of intolerance. The pseudo-apologies appear to be a quick fix to deep-rooted issues in the Republican Party in hopes that it will soon pass and be forgotten.
The complete disregard of those who are in disadvantage is also palpable. We are not looking at an isolated incident of rhetoric or research. Others subscribe to motivating people to action by stating, “In California, a majority of all Hispanic births are illegitimate. That’s a lot of Democratic voters coming.” The discourse that moves the Republican Party is filled with this anti-immigrant movement and overall radicalization that is far removed from reality. Another quick example beyond the immigration debate happened during CPAC this year when a supporter shouted ““For giving him shelter and food for all those years?” while a moderator explained how Frederick Douglass had written a letter to his slave master saying that he forgave him for “all the things you did to me.” I think you get the idea.
When the political discourse resorts to intolerance and hate, we all lose in what makes America great and the progress made in society.
Although I was born an American citizen, I feel that my experience, and that of many from Puerto Rico, is intertwined with those who are referred to as illegal. …
Sadly, every time that matters such as the above are mentioned, people are told that they are playing the race card or that they are being over-sensitive or that these are only a few people, etc., etc.
And, yet, as recently as last week on Fox News Sunday, former Senator and Presidential candidate Bob Dole commented on the modern Republican Party. You can find the transcript here. In part he said:
I think they ought to put a sign on the national committee doors that says closed for repairs until New Year’s Day next year and spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas.
He was asked whether he could make it in today’s Republican Party. In answer he said:
I doubt it. And I — Reagan wouldn’t have made it. Certainly Nixon couldn’t have made it, because he had ideas and, we might have made it, but I doubt it. I mean — I just consider myself a Republican, none of this hyphenated stuff. I was a mainstream conservative Republican, and most people are in that category.
The Grand Old Party can come back. It has a previous vibrant history, from Abraham Lincoln through Teddy Roosevelt (depending on how you see the Bull Moose Republicans) through Dwight Eisenhower. However, I agree with Senator Bob Dole. Unless the Republican Party regains its soul, it risks losing its future.