Navarrette: The Devil They Know
|April 3, 2013||Posted by steveparkhurst under artemio muniz, gop, jack kemp, marco rubio, Republicans|
But you need more than politicians to turn a party around. You also need an army of grassroots activists, operating outside of Washington, to re-make the Republican brand as Hispanic-friendly. And one way to do that is to change the hearts and minds of Hispanics, one good deed at a time. That’s the strategy being implemented by 31-year-old Artemio Muniz of Houston. As one of the founders of the Federation of Hispanic Republicans, and the U.S.-born son of a Mexican immigrant who came to the U.S. without documentation and was legalized by the amnesty provided for in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act.
“I’m an anchor baby,” Muniz said. “Call me an anchor baby. Here I am.”
Although Mitt Romney might not be able to grasp the concept, no one came here to take anything from anybody and there were no silver spoons in the Muniz household. The father worked two jobs. Artemio remembers being lowered into a dumpster as a boy to collect bottles and cans for recycling. Today, the family owns and operates a manufacturing company. Muniz is a Republican because he believes in smaller government, lower taxes, personal liberty, and freedom. But he doesn’t believe in his party’s hard-line against immigrants—both legal and illegal. He also doesn’t think that Obama deserves even a tiny fraction of the Latino vote, given how harmful his policies are to that community.
His plan of attack is to deal directly with people at the grassroots level and address their needs. “People call it outreach,” Muniz told me. But it’s really just connecting with the community and dealing with their concerns.”
Like cleaning up their neighborhoods by picking up trash. That’s what Muniz and some of his fellow Republicans did recently. And when asked what they were doing, they responded in Spanish that they were just trying to help and identified themselves as Republicanos. Muniz is operating closer to the people and on a different track than most political operatives. But that road could be the right one.
“The world of politics is usually discussed in terms of consulting, policy, and polling,” he said. “I can do all that. But the real gold mine is the community, the grassroots, especially urban areas where neither party goes. Helping your neighbor raise a barn. That’s what conservatism is.”
Hmm. Republicans may be able to sell that message. This may not be a lost cause after all. With the right people leading the way, the Republican Party might have a decent shot at redemption with Latino voters. And that would help not just the party but also Latino voters, who—while it appears they have newfound political power given the major role they played in reelecting Obama—have, in reality, never been more powerless. If that is going to change, Latinos will have to once again split their votes between the parties. They have to be courted by both, and not taken for granted or written off by either. There should be suspense as to where those voters will come down, and the parties should have to compete hard for their support.
Without giving away the store here, Artemio touched on a few things in this interview that will be part of our Jack Kemp Project, which is underway and in development. You will want to make sure you are on the list as we complete the project and make it available.