Opinion

How conservatives can reach Hispanic voters

Photo of Israel Ortega
Israel Ortega
Editor, Libertad.org

This is not fluff. On immigration, we can’t just say we need to secure the border and enforce the law. We must push back on the terrible proposition that being against illegal immigration is tantamount to being against all immigration. Conservatives need to expose the left’s insistence on supporting a system that encourages even more individuals to immigrate illegally in often dangerous circumstances, and then live under the constant fear of being deported. A far more humane policy would encourage legal immigration while discouraging illegal immigration.

Nor can conservatives continue to cede the issues of poverty and social justice to the left. Here again, we need to expose liberal failures in order to demonstrate how conservative policy prescriptions centered on increased personal responsibility and two-parent households are far more effective in reducing poverty rates.

Conservatives have solutions to the escalating high school drop-out rates and high rates of child poverty among Hispanics. Liberal ideas to solve these pressing problems are well past their expiration dates. The problem for us has been an inability to communicate directly and consistently with the Hispanic community on what conservatives are offering.

For far too long, conservatives have only paid attention to the Hispanic community for the few months leading up to an election. We need to become a consistent presence in predominantly Hispanic communications outlets, organizations and institutions.

As the editor of The Heritage Foundation’s Spanish-language website and one of our chief spokesmen in the Hispanic media, I have heard countless times that I am one of only a few conservatives to approach a local Hispanic newspaper or radio station. Hispanic media is no longer a niche industry. It is a major player in journalism, as evidenced by the Univision news network’s highly publicized interview of President Obama.

Conservatives would be foolish to ignore this changing media landscape. The left understands this. That’s why it spends considerable time and energy cultivating relationships with members of the Hispanic media. And it’s certainly paid off for them, in terms of favorable coverage for their policies.

Is it too late for conservatives to make their voices heard in the Hispanic media? Of course not. Not too long ago, the left had a near lock on the blogosphere and social media. Once conservatives realized the value of these media, though, we got in the game and are now more than holding our own.

We can do the same with the Hispanic media. But as we wade in, we must carry not just the right policies, but the right message, tone and conviction. All are needed to succeed in the battle of ideas.

Israel Ortega is editor of Libertad.org, the Spanish-language website of The Heritage Foundation.