I have been listening to pundits, particularly on Fox News, all asking, “Why didn´t Republicans carry the Latino Vote as they did in 2004?”
The answer is simple. Republicans did not ask us to the party. We were their ugly dates. They thought putting up a few ads in Spanish on Univision, whispering a few lies they thought we wanted to hear, would swing our votes to them. They thought putting a few bucks into the pockets of old school Latino politicians would get them our votes. Maybe that worked in 2000 and 2004, but it did not work in 2008 and it will not work in the future.
Why? Technology. We have caught up with the rest of America. More and more Latinos, young and old, are on the internet. More and more Latinos are hosting blogs and commenting in newspapers. We have found our voice and we have made connections with each other. Two of our largest concerns are Immigration issues and the resulting Racial Profiling.
The Immigration debate has impacted every brown person in America. Rampant racial profiling is occurring across the nation. Our cars are being followed. Our children are being harassed. Every brown worker in public view is being scrutinized with the unasked questions floating in many eyes, “Are you an illegal immigrant?” “Are you Mexican?” The eyes are not kind. They are angry and accusatory.
Racial Profiling is wrong, but what is worse is the poor treatment being received by the 12M undocumented workers in our country. In 2007 and 2008, we have witnessed some of the most inhumane treatment of workers in history as they were sent off to cattle barns and families sent to crony owned private prison Detention Centers.
We are also viewing what the ANTI Immigration Reform supporters are saying and videos they are posting on the internet. Much of it is not a pretty picture. On the anonymous internet, many ANTIs are not only outspoken with hate towards illegal immigrants but they frequently bash anyone who advocates Comprehensive Immigration Reform. While there are some in their ranks that have valid concerns, there are also many members from extremist hate groups like the KKK and White Nationalists. Overall, there is no doubt this group is skilled at using the internet and technology towards their advantage. They know how to mass email and fax Congress. They know how to stir up their media and shock jock advocates like Dobbs, Hannity, Beck and Limbaugh. They know how to “yank Congress´s chain” to heed their call. However, what is clear is, they are not the large numbers some of their members try to represent.
The PRO Immigration Reform supporters are different than many of the ANTI groups. They are not angry exclusionists. They seek resolution to the Immigration issues via Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the end to Racial Profiling. They are comprised of many Latinos and other groups interested in CIR. I often say the PRO CIR supporters are similar to the members of the 60´s Civil Rights Movement, advocating change and improvement of bad laws. This group is growing and wants both Republicans and Democrats to hear and respect their views. Like all Americans, PROs want an improved America and Immigration is but one issue they support. PROs also ask for Change in the Economy, Healthcare, War, and Education.
Why Latinos DID NOT vote for Republicans in 2008:
The Republican Party candidates were overrun with ANTI Immigration Reformers. Angry candidates like Tom Tancredo peppered their language with obviously racist outbursts. His comments, “Miami is a 3rd world country!” and telling El Paso citizens against the Border Fence to move across the border put him over the top as the worst candidate.
Watching the Republican candidates´ debates cast this negative light on the entire Republican party as candidate after candidate followed Tancredo´s lead. The only Republican that had any small hope of obtaining any Latino support was John McCain. In 2006, he did support CIR along with Ted Kennedy and initially was a maverick on this issue, until his view came under Republican scrutiny during the election campaign. Then, McCain flip-flopped to the restrictionist perspective. This hurt him with Latinos. What made it worse was his “ugly date” strategy of winning us over. His backdoor meeting with old time Latino politicos topped with his Spanish only ads on Latino stations like Univision created another failure! Latino Bloggers LAUGHED at these obvious ploys!
McCain was certainly not helped by the fact his own state hosts the vilest of all ANTI Immigration Reform zealots, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. This suppression raider, armed with masked, volunteer storm troopers, has rampaged across Maricopa country throwing his girth around, blathering about his successes. He boasts of his racial profiling suppression sweeps. His worst example was storm-trooping a children´s Confirmation Mass.
Many blogs, including mine, called on McCain to disavow Arpaio. He did not. I invited McCain to speak on my blog. He did not.
Why Latinos DID vote for Democrats in 2008:
Democrats respected Latino voters and listened to Latino concerns openly and publicly. Many Democrats have advocated CIR for some time, especially via the Kennedy-McCain bill. The Latino Caucus hosted the Congressional Review of the ICE raids in Postville. It became clear the Democrats were listening and acting on some issues.
Of the Democratic candidates, all supported some version of CIR. Additionally, Barack Obama and Hillary visited Latino communities and sat down and listened to them. Additionally both Barack Obama and Hillary were invited to write on many Latino blogs. Barack Obama wrote on my blog in February, 2008.
Dolores Huerta and many national Latino celebrities actively participated in the Democratic campaigns. Dolores, one of our long time civil rights heroes spoke at the Democratic convention.
How to Gain and Keep the Latino Vote:
Respect Latinos and Listen to their issues. Proudly Invite Latinos to the Party. Respond to Latino views as equally as to other constituents. Talk to them on their blogs, on the internet.
We are citizens. We love America. We are family focused, hard working, military supporting, Christian people. We do want to see change in Immigration, the Economy, Healthcare, the War, and Education, just like most other Americans.
The Republicans made a big mistake, not only with Latinos, but with all other minorities. Look at John McCain´s audiences. They EXCLUDED. They were not inclusive. This was epitomized by Sarah Palin´s “Real America” comments. The election results PROVED she was wrong. The Republicans made that mistake and if they continue it, it will no longer be the GOP, but the Grand, Long-Gone Party!
We, of all ethnicities, of every color, all of us, all inclusive, this RAINBOW, are the HEART and the Real America!
God Bless America!