Hispanic Evangelicals respond to the Election of President Barack Obama
An Open letter from the NHCLC to President Elect Barack Obama
Dear President-Elect Barack Obama,
On behalf of the 16 million strong Hispanic American Evangelical community and 18,734 churches throughout the 50 states and Puerto Rico, America's largest Hispanic Christian Leadership Organization, The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, wishes to extend our sincerest congratulatory sentiment in your election as our Nation's 44th President. Our prayer is that the Spirit of Reconciliation will inundate our national family as you lead us in these difficult times.
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From Dr. Jesse Miranda
President elect Barack Obama’s victory revealed the heart and soul of the Latinos in the United States. In this election Latinos, both Evangelical and non-Evangelicals, marched away from the GOP as it shifted on the issue of immigration. By the GOP narrowing themselves the Latino voted went to for candidate that won't expel them but rather expand their horizon, i.e. education. According to the NY Times (11/13) Barack is sending signals that education is on the list of priorities of his administration as a way of addressing poverty and growing the economy, issues important to Latinos.
As Chief Executive Director of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference I see evangelicals reaffirming their identity, reforming their behavior and repositioning their public engagement to address the righteousness and justice ethic that we seek need our community. The new administrations’ educational initiatives for one will help us as Americans regain the lost ground educationally to our competitors abroad and to restore the fading American dream we once had.
Dr. Jesse Miranda
Chief Executive Director
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
William McKenzie: How did the GOP lose Latino evangelicals?
Dallas Morning News
Monday, November 10, 2008
I followed Latino evangelicals throughout the election to see whether this part of the GOP base would chip off because of the harsher rhetoric coming out of some Republican mouths about illegal immigration. I also wanted to understand where a fast-growing part of evangelicalism was headed.
Numbers are still coming in, but it's safe to say enough Latino evangelicals marched away from the GOP to matter in states such as Florida and Colorado. Barack Obama won there after George W. Bush prevailed in 2004.
I got back on the phone with the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez to find out why. His name has appeared frequently in this column because he heads the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the leading Hispanic evangelical organization.
The Californian offered a blunt assessment:
- Immigration, and immigration only, cost Republicans. The Pat Buchanans drove Latino evangelicals away with scary rhetoric about immigration during Congress' recent debates on the subject.
- Republicans can win back Latino evangelicals by acknowledging the need to diversify. And the diversification applies to more than Latinos.
The party should "vertically realign," he said, by reaching out to younger voters, Asian-Americans and African-Americans. He suggests the GOP immediately host a summit with "gatekeepers" in those various communities who lean Republican.
I agree. The GOP can't keep narrowing itself, forcing out minority voters. The party either expands or shrinks into irrelevancy.
Almost every day we hear about America's demographics changing. To survive in a diverse America, the GOP must become more multi-ethnic and multi-generational, as Mr. Rodriguez said.
But change won't come without messiness. For example, Latino evangelicals must challenge their fellow Republicans when the anti-immigration talk morphs into race-baiting.
That includes denouncing ads like we saw in Texas. In state legislative races, such as the one featuring Democratic State Rep. Allen Vaught and Republican challenger Bill Keffer, Republicans hit hard with inflammatory ads depicting the Democrat as soft on illegal immigration.
Mr. Rodriguez acknowledges confrontation is inevitable and used a biblical story to illustrate his point: There was first fire with the prophet Elijah, then came a healing rain.
My larger reason for studying Latino evangelicals is to better grasp evangelicalism's direction. Since there are about 16 million Hispanic evangelicals in America, they could influence the larger evangelical movement, which remains an important segment of our culture.
Like most other evangelicals, Hispanic evangelicals emphasize personal conversions, the inerrancy of Scripture and the return of Jesus. And, politically, most oppose abortion and gay marriage.
But there are enough differences that Latinos could reshape the evangelical movement. That includes theologically. Numerous Latino evangelicals believe in speaking in tongues and divine healing. Your normal Billy Graham-evangelical has never been comfortable with charismatic Christianity.
In fact, there's long been a split within evangelicalism over speaking in tongues. The divide could expand unless evangelicals discover how to deal with the new wave of Latino evangelicals.
Latino evangelicals also could reshape evangelicalism's politics. Specifically, their economic populism could drive the movement closer to the I-feel-your-pain approach of Mike Huckabee. During the GOP primaries, the former Arkansas governor tried to articulate the fears and anxieties of families not making it in the global economy.
It would be disastrous if this populism prompts evangelicals to retreat from the world economy. But it could land evangelicals on the side of a new suffering class in America.
You put that alongside younger evangelicals' interest in fighting poverty, and you can see an evangelicalism that emphasizes what Mr. Rodriguez calls the righteousness-and-justice ethic: One that opposes abortion and gay marriage and at the same time fights for social justice.
Evangelicalism's direction matters because this movement affects our culture. Latino evangelicals particularly matter to the GOP. We will see whether Republicans are smart enough to create a lasting marriage with them.
William McKenzie is a Dallas Morning News editorial columnist. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
This week's debate on Texas Faith: Californians strike down gay marriage. Participate at dallasnews.com/
William McKenzie is a Dallas Morning News editorial columnist. His email address is email@example.com
Whither the GOP?
Margaret Spellings of Texas is the U.S. secretary of education.
After a sound defeat, conservatives must refocus, but on what? Points asked thoughtful Republicans from Dallas and beyond; here are their responses:
A different kind of Republican...
When you look at the big issues – the economy, health care, global competitiveness and national security – one of the common themes is adequately focusing on and investing in education. We have to do that to deal with each issue.
Education's also a kitchen-table issue and one of those areas where we've practiced the bipartisan consensus people want. Emphasizing education is part of getting back to being a different kind of Republican, as the president ran as in 2000.
We're at one of those forks in the road, where we either talk to the base of the party or try to be a different kind of Republican, one who understands that fiscal discipline is not mutually exclusive with compassionate conservatism. We need to talk about issues like immigration, housing, AIDS and faith-based initiatives.
Some of this means being able to better explain our positions. Many people have a visceral reaction when you bring up immigration, for example. But when you look at the facts, you see how immigration affects many parts of our lives, from labor patterns to population demographics. We can't just ignore it.
The same is true with education and No Child Left Behind. It's a sullied brand because unions and others have attacked it. It's heavily linked to President Bush. But we need to keep explaining the policy, because that's what matters. And we need to explain it in personal terms. Do parents want their schools to teach their children at grade level or not? Do we want to continue to lead the world in innovation? If so, closing the achievement gap is essential.
Freedom. Opportunity. Responsibility.
William Murchison, a former Dallas Morning News associate editor, is a research fellow at the Institute for Policy Innovation in Lewisville.
Do we, in fact, need a Republican Party? Maybe that's the question.
A second party, yes, certainly; but not the inert, intellectually sterile agglomeration of latter years. The Republican Party this cycle had no Big Idea wherewith to inspire. Republicans were just sort of there, and wanting to stay awhile longer.
Fie and baloney. That's not how you win elections. You win with ideas. "Change," amorphously as the concept played out in Democratic hands, is at least an idea.
A conservative party – which is what the GOP must remain, if only to offset the occasionally terrifying liberalism of the Democrats – doesn't instinctively do "change." It's better at affirming.
Affirming what, then? Freedom. Opportunity. Personal responsibility.
Yes, affirm, then make it sing – the melody rising above the wonkery of policy papers and proposals. Tailor programs to the specified end, not the end to programs designed essentially as vote-buying enterprises.
A few ideas on, for argument's sake, the personal responsibility front. One: Start paying off our national bills and credit cards, the way families must. Two: Teach, teach, teach; connect student noses to the scholastic grindstone, and keep them there until learning takes place. Three: Repel unseemly proposals to roust "religious conservatives" from the party, when what you want isn't fewer ties to our civilization's noblest traditions, it's more.
"Idea" – just another four-letter word, perhaps. But what a grand one!
No more 'go along to get along'
Rick Perry is the governor of Texas.
The party needs to reassess how its principles are applied by those who represent us in Washington, where Americans judge how each party delivers on its promises. 2001 was a pinnacle for hard-working Republicans, when we took back Congress and captured the White House. Unfortunately, those we elected on a platform of fiscal responsibly and smaller, smarter government and leadership turned those values on their heads.
Our party's image has been seriously diminished by pork-barrel spending, special interests calling the shots, massive expansion of government and a loss of confidence in the ability of Republican leaders in D.C. to make things work.
Change must work its way up from the local level. We must build on our successes at the state level, where we have focused on sound fiscal policies, job creation and transparency in spending. We need to continue to improve homeland security, education results and transportation infrastructure.
Governors and state legislators will lead this charge, challenging the status quo with reforms that will matter to everyday Americans. No one has all the answers, but the status quo must be challenged. The "go along to get along" Republicans in D.C. have lost their way.
Our party's future lies with leaders across the country like Linda Lingle and Bobby Jindal, as well as Texas legislative leaders like Steve Ogden, Robert Duncan, Warren Chisum, Carl Isett and Geanie Morrison. Working with leaders across the nation, we will reform our party from the bottom up and return to the values that have long defined us.
It's not about becoming power players
Kay Bailey Hutchison of Dallas is the senior senator from Texas.
I joined the GOP when Democrats ruled Texas. Republicans won by talking to their friends and neighbors, sharing core values. They got involved to change heavy-handed government, not to become power players.
Along the way, Republicans lost our grassroots outreach and the energy it produces – especially from young voters. It is time to throw out robo-calls and talk to people about what unites us: supporting families, helping small businesses and assuring education prepares young people for the global marketplace.
We must return to being the party of ideas by offering fresh solutions. When we won a congressional majority in the mid-'90s, we reformed welfare, lowered tax rates for all Americans and rebuilt our military.
Small businesses are America's economic engine, and we must reclaim the support of entrepreneurs. By keeping taxes low, removing burdensome regulations to allow job creation and expanding access to health care in the private market, we can spur our free-enterprise system to overcome the recession.
We also need to recognize our state and nation's changing demographics by listening to the innovative solutions minority communities propose. One of the best ways to do that is by reforming our public education system from the bottom up and championing the best ideas from local leaders.
As the minority party, Republicans will not be in control. But we have a responsibility to try to protect Americans from poor public policy and shape good legislation where we can.
Americans want a new Contract with America
Merrie Spaeth, president of a Dallas- based communications consulting company, was a special assistant to President Ronald Reagan.
Teddy Roosevelt said, "Do what you can, where you are, with what you've got." We apologize to the American people. They signed on to the Contract with America. We failed them, but we've learned our lesson.
First, we need to deliver on good government. We'll abolish earmarks and resist creating pseudo-foundations funded by the companies affected by the committees we control.
Second, let the voters vote on term limits. Elected officials hate them, but the excitement over Barack Obama is a clear message from the American people: Give us new faces. Involve a broad range of people. Are we prepared to listen?
Third, we fell so in love with the Internet, we forgot the importance of getting out and talking to people. We need an army of volunteers to go anywhere there are more than three people to talk about the importance of free enterprise, entrepreneurs and individual accountability.
Fourth, we need to develop a new vocabulary. Just as the "estate tax" was a yawn but the "death tax" rallied people, we need "competitive taxes," not "lower taxes." The "Fairness Doctrine" is the "Unfairness Doctrine." The "Employee Free Choice Act" is the "Employee No Voice Act," and so on.
Finally, we must be optimistic and upbeat. We must celebrate the American "can do" nature.
If we make this pledge to the American people, we will be welcomed back to the majority where we belong and where we can tackle the real challenges facing the nation.
Listen to this new hunger for change
Rob Portman, a former congressman from Ohio, served as director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Bush.
The Republican Party's revival starts with adherence to our core principles of fiscal conservatism, smaller government, family values and personal responsibility. And not just in how we campaign, but in how we govern.
However, this is only a starting point. The key is to develop and communicate compelling policy solutions consistent with these principles. America seeks answers to the problems we face, and Republicans will be rewarded by providing them.
There is an understandable nostalgia among Republicans for Ronald Reagan. But two keys to his success are sometimes overlooked.
First, he used these beliefs to fashion innovative solutions to the challenges of his time, including the Cold War, a dysfunctional welfare system, stagflation from the Carter years and increased levels of violent crime.
Second, he communicated his policies in a way that resonated with Americans.
We must do the same thing.
This begins with forging innovative solutions, particularly to domestic challenges like rising health costs, global competition, substandard education, stagnant middle-class wages, dependence on foreign oil, environmental worries and the unsustainable growth of entitlement programs.
Instead of larger government and more bureaucracy, Republicans must offer solutions that use market forces and reward innovation and personal responsibility. Then we must put more effort and resources into communicating our policies. This includes better use of modern technologies, an area where the Obama campaign broke new ground.
In 2006, election losses were a wake-up call not heard. We should listen to the hunger for change in last week's results and offer ideas that can result in a Republican renaissance.
Our message needs new messengers
Jonathan Neerman is chairman of the Dallas County Republican Party.
When a political party suffers the type of defeat Republicans did Tuesday, there is a temptation to talk about returning to our base. I disagree. Rather than narrowing the party further, we should broaden the Republican coalition that led to our past successes.
There is no reason we should change our core beliefs: lower taxes, limited government and strong national defense. Indeed, I believe these principles still resonate with the majority of our country.
I do believe we need new messengers for that message. I hope the party continues to recruit and nurture younger candidates with fresh ideas and a younger perspective. These new leaders undoubtedly will disagree with some of the older leadership on issues ranging from the environment to foreign policy.
That is OK. No, that is great. Our party cannot and should not become an echo chamber. A little dissent within is a good thing if it means our leaders will be able to deliver a coherent message that brings voters to the polls.
The GOP is in danger of losing two key demographics: youths and Hispanics. We need to work diligently to recapture both by speaking directly to them about our core principles.
It will take a serious effort to gain their support for our candidates and our positions. Particularly the youth vote, which, I believe, views Republicans as the "anti" party. If we give them reason to be "pro" something, we have a better chance of gaining their support.
Stop drinking the Kool-Aid in Washington
Steve Forbes, a former GOP presidential candidate, is chairman, chief executive and editor in chief of Forbes.
The GOP's got to get back to basic principles. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid in Washington. By that, I mean: Don't think pork or expanding entitlement programs wins you lasting support.
Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan gets this. He's put his career on the line by embracing tighter spending, reforming entitlements and improving our monetary policy. The weak dollar is one reason we're in this economic mess.
When it comes to entitlements, we've got to get away from the accountant's mentality. Talking about unfunded liabilities to Medicare and Social Security is too hard to comprehend. We also need to make it clear that we won't tamper with current benefits.
We instead should talk about what we're going to do for younger people. Otherwise, entitlement programs will become a catastrophic burden for them.
On Social Security, for example, we need to frame personal investment accounts as a way to create capital and savings. You even would be allowed to pick your own retirement age.
We also should talk about simplifying the tax code. Tax rate cuts work, but tax simplification is also essential. It would make companies even more competitive.
Finally, we need to favor comprehensive immigration reform. Many parts of our economy need this, including the high-tech industry.
And while we're talking about that, why hasn't anyone finished reforming the immigration service? It's too bizarre and byzantine.
If you play by the rules, you should stand a chance of staying in the country.
We simply must reach out to Hispanics
Pastor Mark Gonzales, president and founder of Standing For Truth Foundation in Dallas, is a vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
My party undoubtedly faces issues that need addressing to remain viable. The GOP repeatedly claims it needs to reach Hispanics, but it has yet to meaningfully invest in a get-out-the-vote effort in the Hispanic community.
To reach the estimated 50,000 new Hispanic voters each month, we need to invest in a strategy to reach "the awakening giant" in American politics. Just look at both presidential campaigns. The Hispanic vote goes to the campaigns that intentionally reach out to them.
Republicans also should rebuild the bridges burned due to anti-immigrant rhetoric. I want to reiterate rhetoric. Legislatively, we can always agree to disagree. But we can never stop treating people, regardless of their status, with dignity and respect.
Some rhetoric was definitely not in line with a party that values life and liberty. That sends the wrong message to voters who are examining the parties.
And the GOP needs to remain true to its conservative principles. Quit walking around in fear of what "all" people think.
What made this party great was that it represented a conservative set of standards: family, life, marriage, limited government, less taxation leading to greater opportunity, etc. These issues Hispanics truly appreciate, and they should bring them – and other voters – to our party. But we frequently try to please everyone and end up compromising our principles and representing no one.
Enough with RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) in order to save the party. We must examine the platform and connect with what the people really need and want from the government and the Grand Old Party.
Focus on these four cornerstones
Jeb Hensarling, a congressman from East Dallas, chairs the House Republican Study Committee.
There are people in every district in every state in America that long for Republicans who will stand and fight on their behalf. Americans are tired of a government that makes their health care more expensive, their paychecks smaller and their jobs less secure.
In the days and months ahead, Republicans will rededicate themselves to a noble cause – the preservation of the American Dream. It is a dream that I believe relies on four cornerstones – faith, family, free enterprise and freedom.
These are our values, and while they do not change, our message, tactics, and strategy will. We will apply those values and speak directly about the challenges faced by struggling, disaffected, 21st century families.
We must regain the trust of the single suburban mom trying to scrape together rent money, the factory worker worried about his job, the senior who has watched his retirement funds plummet and the short-order cook dreaming about one day owning his own restaurant.
We will not just speak to their heads, but to their hearts as well. We must have new ideas, strong ideas, ideas that solve their real challenges. We will resolve to remain optimistic in the face of difficult challenges. And we will resolve to go forward with an unbreakable unity to revitalize our party with bold colors.
The base doesn't equal a majority
Rob Schlein is president of the Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas.
Almost every election cycle, "it's the economy, stupid." Yet the GOP focuses its candidate selection on almost every other criterion except for economic prowess.
We live in a center-right country. Yet the party structure of the GOP is composed of far-right social conservatives. Since they almost always evaluate a candidate's stance on abortion or gay rights as their No. 1 issue, it tends to push away more moderate independent voters and the youth vote to the Democrats.
For the GOP to return to power, it must select candidates who appeal to the common desires of all Americans – to feel safe in their homes, to have good education for their kids, to live in freedom, to have good business opportunities.
We will differ with Democrats, of course, on the path of achieving these desires.
We need to center our party on the issues most Republicans (and many Americans) agree on – the issues of liberty, smaller government and lower taxes.
Our party will spend a long time in the wilderness unless social conservatives focus more on electability and qualifications, and are open to differences in ideology on social issues. The base doesn't equal a majority.
The GOP has a choice: Be a smaller regional party of the South and Midwest or be a majority party that unites around inclusive kitchen-table issues, plays down divisive social issues and truly becomes a big-tent party that welcomes people from all walks of life.
The choice is clear.
Provide the solutions America needs
Karen Hughes, former counselor to President Bush, is global vice chairman of Burson-Marsteller.
I have a message for my fellow Republicans: Hold your fire. Yes, we lost the election, convincingly. We have plenty of thinking and rebuilding to do. But the Democrats' victory did not repudiate conservative principles, and our comeback will not be hastened with a self-defeating spiral of blame aimed at our candidates, campaign decisions, the Bush administration or one another.
Barack Obama won by promising GOP-sounding programs. Now, however, he must govern. He will face pressure from liberals. His prescriptions of raising taxes on small businesses and individuals, enacting new mandates and restricting trade will not be popular in an economic crisis.
Republicans should spend the next several years developing conservative solutions to complex problems like energy independence, affordable and accessible health care, Social Security and Medicare reform, smart environmental stewardship, and a foreign policy that prevents the spread of weapons of mass destruction and defeats terrorism.
We must reach out to women, whose futures are affected by economic and retirement security issues, and socially conservative Hispanics who want greater opportunity.
For leadership, we should look to our governors, including the one from Alaska. Despite the negative press and criticism from the arrogant elite, Sarah Palin has star power. She connects with voters and has a record of cutting spending, taking on special interests and leading toward energy independence. Governors like Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota are delivering fiscally responsible government and highlighting education reforms and American innovation.
Voters want solutions. If we are smart, Republicans will provide them.
Renounce the Roveian rhetoric
Mickey Edwards, a former GOP congressman from Oklahoma City, is author of "Reclaiming Conservatism."
The Republican Party has received a drubbing, but that happens; a party finds itself out of favor, takes its beating, mutters "wait till next year" and starts retooling.
This time, that won't be enough. Although John McCain was saddled with an unpopular president, an unpopular war and a staggering economy, he had advantages: He was the conservative in a right-of-center country, running against a liberal; he was experienced, running against a neophyte in a time of great difficulties.
Yet not only did Mr. McCain lose, he found himself struggling in traditionally Republican states. And Republicans took heavy congressional losses. It wasn't just Mr. McCain; the party was being rejected. Worse, the GOP deserved it.
So, how to find its way back?
Scrap the '60s Cold War rhetoric; people who disagree with you aren't unpatriotic. The Roveian rhetoric turned off Democrats, independents and all but the nuttiest Republicans. We're not pacifists, but we're not warmongers; when war is necessary, it's a last resort.
Address the real concerns of real people; we believe, as Ronald Reagan said, in a government that "can and must provide opportunity." Conservatives once were about ideas, about tailoring their philosophy to real-world problems.
It's time to rediscover that commitment.
Remember that conservatives are about liberty and that liberty is the Constitution's central focus. How did we become the party of wiretaps, government secrecy, locking people up without charges? How did we become the party that believed in centralized, almost unaccountable, government power?
We do not need to create a new party. We need to rediscover the old one.
Principles over politics
Wick Allison, former publisher of National Review, is publisher and editor of D Magazine.
Most young people don't know what a conservative is. To them, the word conjures up the face of a Tom DeLay or a Sean Hannity. That would be enough to scare anyone away from a political party.
The new Republican minority will be tempted to play Mr. DeLay and follow Mr. Hannity: Go deep into opposition, and by their obduracy polish their credentials to an ever-diminishing base. Not wise. Fighting a rear guard action for the Reagan Revolution 28 years after it occurred will seem outdated to people who weren't born 28 years ago.
Republicans need to shake off the ideological blinders that put them in the ditch – and which threaten to lose them an entire generation. For example, neither Ronald Reagan nor Barry Goldwater was famously religious. So how did the GOP become the evangelical party? Neither made a fetish of momentary pragmatic moves, such as lowering taxes, so how did the GOP become the party of only one solution to all problems for all time?
Rather, Mr. Goldwater and Mr. Reagan staked out their ground on principles that transcended mere politics: liberty, limited government, the Constitution, America as "the city on a hill." That political cynics claimed their mantle while paying so little respect to their principles does not diminish the original power of those principles. A party that actually holds to them instead of merely mouthing them can someday recapture this country.
Barack Obama is a formidable figure. But his party will overreach. As we have seen, all parties do. The question is, will conservatives have the credibility to call them on it?
A step-by-step to-do list
George Seay, CEO of Annandale Capital in Dallas, is chairman of Legacy, a national network of conservative leaders & CEOs.
Rebuilding will take patience, determination, focus and Texas-style grit. Here's what we must do.
Focus on integrity: Require Republican leaders and candidates to have great personal and professional integrity.
Recruit private-sector leaders to run for major public office: The Republican Party's strength comes from the private sector, not from career politicians.
Focus on substantive solutions to issues that real people care about – education, immigration, job creation, global competitiveness, the environment, energy independence, entitlement reform, nuclear proliferation, terrorism and homeland security. And stop manufacturing phony issues to motivate the base.
Remember what we stand for – consistent conservative policy on social, economic and national security issues; in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.
Be trustworthy, accountable and scandal free: Let our words and our actions be identical, without exception – if we say it, we do it – and leave the scandals and bad behavior to the other guys.
Restore civility and decency to the political process, the "reformation of manners," as William Wilberforce called it.
Bury petty partisanship.
Focus on what we are for, not what we are against.
Remember, as Ronald Reagan said, that those who agree with us 80 percent of the time are our friends, not our enemies.
Have charity for all, malice for none, show great courage, and win future elections because Republicans have the best leaders, ideas and energy, and the fiercest, most able, effective competitors running for office.