California Forum

The Conversation / The GOP

Demonstrators in 1996 hold up signs to protest Proposition 187 and other immigration policies, outside City Hall in Huntington Park where Gov. Pete Wilson was speaking.
Demonstrators in 1996 hold up signs to protest Proposition 187 and other immigration policies, outside City Hall in Huntington Park where Gov. Pete Wilson was speaking. The Associated Press

In last Sunday’s Conversation, Dan Morain wrote how the Republican Party in California in the 1980s was “strong, and, most important, smart.” But that began to change in the 1990s with Gov. Pete Wilson endorsing Proposition 187, which would make undocumented immigrants ineligible for public benefits. (“Ghost of Prop. 187 rises as Trump ascends”; Forum, July 17)

We asked readers: How have you seen the Republican Party in California change from the 1980s to today?


GOP hasn’t learned from mistakes

From the dominant political party when I was a child, the Republican Party is reduced to a small and still shrinking third-rate party with no hope of improvement in sight.

What happened? I blame it mostly on Pete Wilson and Proposition 187, with all its inherent racism and xenophobia.

Recalling the whipping up of irrational emotion against farmworkers at that time, in spite of their essential contribution, I well remember the outrage I felt and the warnings from so many that the popular proposition was unconstitutional and therefore could not be enforced. That’s what I believed, and that’s what happened.

What it did accomplish was permanent alienation of a lot of the population, many of us white. And now, almost unbelievably, they’re doing it again. This time it’s on a much larger and more dangerous scale. Why can they never seem to learn from their mistakes? That is what I truly do not understand.

Nora J. Coryell, Jackson

Adam Watson – Ah, yes, 187, the “Self-Deportation” proposition.

Fresh ideas that were a joke to begin with. The Republican Party used to have real, effective values. It wasn’t just about obstructionism, partisanship, or evangelical voters. There aren’t any solutions, or even compromised alternatives produced by a Republican-controlled Congress. The Republican Party left a lot of people.

Dairl Helmer – Republican politicians have been playing the politics of race since Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy.” Now, with a bigot like Donald Trump as the party’s presidential nominee, the Republican Party’s chickens have finally come home to roost. You made your bed, Republicans – now you have to lie in it.

Kathy Woods – The Republican Party has lost its way. For years they’ve claimed to be the party of family values. Now they have a serial philanderer as their candidate and Christians are still backing him. So that platform is out the window. Wake up; the definition of family has diversified. Unless you’re extremely wealthy, I’m not sure why anyone would vote conservative. These pols have their constituents cowering in fear from Muslims on one side and the LGBT community on the other, good grief what a way to live …

Seriously though, what have Republicans done for the past two terms but stubbornly block progress? It’s never mattered if new policies were good for the country or not, if the president wanted it, they opposed it. That’s not governing, that’s kindergarten behavior. And refusing to vote on Obama’s well qualified nominee for the Supreme Court is more of the same. Shameful.

Alejo Padilla – I remember being a high school student when Proposition 187 was introduced to California voters. The proposition forced me to be politically conscious and know the differences of the two political parties. As a teenage Latino at that time I would have political conversations with my parents and grandmother. My father and grandmother became American citizens at this time specifically to be able to vote in that election and future elections. My family moves to the political party that is inclusive to all and does not try to systematically marginalize groups of people. A party that does not see me part of their agenda is a party I cannot vote for. This is why the Republican Party has lost Latinos in California. Our political process needs two or more political parties to ensure democratic debate and discourse. …

I do not want to give anyone the impression that the only issue Latino voters care about is immigration. However, when the language of bias and exclusion are part of the political discussion we can never get to the issues of education and the economy. The Democratic Party in California has opened the dialogue with Latino voters. One party wants our votes and another doesn’t. Now the national Republican Party is a whole different level. They are not biased but racist and bigoted, hence Donald Trump. That is very unfortunate because it does Latinos little good to only have one party want our votes. We need a competitive democratic process!