Will The Latino Vote Decide The Next President?
In a recent cover article, Time Magazine asserts that Latino voters are going to make or break the chances for Obama’s Republican challenger this election. Why? In the midst of harsh GOP rhetoric surrounding immigration, and the racist policies of states like Arizona and Alabama trying to encourage “self-deportation,” Latino voters are becoming increasingly frustrated and politically active.
Nowhere has this been more obvious than in Arizona. On Time’s site, Michael Scherer describes the impact that Latino voters had in the Phoenix City Council race in 2011:
A group of young people calling themselves “Team Awesome” knocked on 72,000 doors in the city to support Valenzuela’s bid. They increased off-year turnout among the Latino community by 480%, more than delivering Valenzuela’s margin of victory. “There is a ripple effect that has the city and the county and the state of Arizona looking at the way they approach politics,” says Joseph Larios, 29, a community organizer now working with the state Democratic Party who helped Valenzuela develop his strategy. “It’s impossible to say going after low-propensity Latino voters doesn’t matter based on what happened.”
A recent poll by Univision found that a full 72% of Latinos don’t believe the GOP cares about their support, or is hostile to their community. Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American Senator in Florida, warns Republicans in an interview with Time that their attitude towards immigration could cost them dearly:
I’m always trying to remind my colleagues that if they lived in Mexico or anywhere in Latin America and their kids were hungry – every night went to sleep hungry – and your country provided no opportunity for you to feed them, you’re telling me that there’s nothing you wouldn’t do to feed them? You’re telling me you wouldn’t go anywhere there was a job so you could send money to them?
Of course, Rubio also opposed the DREAM act, on the principle that it would “be used as an anchor” to allow 3 million new immigrants into the country, so he might have a little thinking of his own to do on the subject. Ironically, he also accuses Democrats of using immigration as an “electoral issue,” implying that any action progressives take on immigration reform is purely for political gain. Which begs the question: isn’t that more or less what he’s suggesting his fellow conservatives do?
Hopefully, if Scherer’s article is right, Latinos will start to increasingly prove that we’re not going to vote against our own best interests, no matter what talking points Republicans start using to try to placate us. It’s obvious when an entire political party is stacked against your community (even those of us whose families have been in the US for generations!), and assuming that softening that hate and couching it in gentler language will win our votes is nothing short of insulting.
Photo credit: Michael L. Dorn