Next January, Barack Obama will take the oath as President of the United States for the second time. I congratulate the President for running an effective campaign that attracted broad-based support, including from within the Hispanic community. In spite of the fact that President Obama failed on his 2008 promise to deliver immigration reform, over 70 percent of Hispanics voted for his reelection. The Des Moines Register recently reported that, when discussing second term objectives, President Obama said, “The second thing I’m confident we’ll get done next year is immigration reform.” By their votes, the Hispanic community has granted the President a second opportunity to prove he can be a man of his word.
The challenge is daunting because of the political stalemate in Washington. No President can be successful without help from Congress. Today, many believe Congress is dysfunctional, that it is an institution as divided as our country. Our framers established a system of checks and balances to guard against tyranny. Although it was never intended that our government function as efficiently as private enterprise, today very little is accomplished because of partisanship.
I hope more Republicans open their eyes and acknowledge finally the reality of the changing demographics
- Alberto Gonzales
Effective policy on difficult issues like immigration requires accommodation by both Democrats and Republicans. We all must understand that no one will get everything they want. Even a conservative like Ronald Reagan understood the importance of compromise on immigration policy.
During the campaign, Governor Mitt Romney described President Obama as the most partisan President in history. Close to as many Americans voted against the President as for him. I do not agree with many of the President’s policies. However, I know many of the challenges faced by my community cannot be met without the leadership of the President. Although I do not believe the federal government is the answer to many of our problems, I do believe in the power of the presidency to inspire, to lead, and to help create an environment where children can succeed and achieve the American dream.
In the weeks and months to come, Republicans will engage in some serious soul searching. I hope more Republicans open their eyes and acknowledge finally the reality of the changing demographics. President George W. Bush received 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004. Governor Romney received just 27 percent. Thousands upon thousands of Hispanics each year turn 18. If Republicans cannot attract more Hispanic voters, then the Republican Party is doomed to more elections like 2012. In the meantime, there is much work to do. President Obama is our President, and he will need a partner to do the people’s work. A true partnership requires communication and compromise.
For the sake of our country, I hope we can find common ground. The people have spoken and it is time for our President to lead.
Alberto R. Gonzales is the former U.S. Attorney General and White House Counsel in the George W. Bush Administration. Presently he is the Dean and Doyle Rogers Distinguished Professor of Law at Belmont University College of Law.