Latino Leaders -- Not!
By Miguel Perez
creators.com (November 12, 2010)
They are Hispanic, and they are elected leaders. But seeing as the new crop of Latino Republicans mostly were elected by non-Latinos - because majorities of Hispanics often voted against them - can we call them Latino leaders?
If they have vowed to follow conservative Republican/tea party agendas that are clearly anti-Hispanic, can we really call them Latino leaders just because they have Hispanic surnames?
We need to examine the definition of "lider" in the Hispanic community. And our new, emerging Tios Tomas should not qualify!
For example, no one calls Clarence Thomas an African-American leader, because that Supreme Court justice is known to stand against his own people on many issues.
The same unwritten rule should apply to the newly elected Latino Republicans who have campaigned on anti-Latino platforms. Until they stand up for the interests of their own people, they may be Republican leaders, but lideres latinos they are not!
Por favor! Don't let the GOP propaganda machine insult your intelligence. If you let it, it will have you thinking that because a bunch of Latino Republicans were elected, most Latinos actually think like them. We don't!
How could we possibly support a movement that wants to take this country back to a time when our civil rights constantly were violated? How can our votes not be influenced by all the harsh rhetoric we've heard from Republicans, especially their ruthless assault on undocumented immigrants we know to be hardworking and decent?
Even if some of us wanted to abstain from voting for Democrats - to express our dissatisfaction with their inability to create more jobs, pass immigration reform legislation, improve the economy, etc. - the Draconian Republicans made it impossible for many Latinos to stay home on Election Day. Despite many predictions of low Latino voter turnouts, in many races more Latinos turned out than expected and made a huge difference for Democrats.
For the record, in most of the top races across the country, among Latino voters Democrats beat Republicans by nearly a 2-1 margin. Only in Florida, where Cuban-Americans traditionally favor Republicans, were some GOP candidates able to surpass Democrats among Latinos.
In many races in which the Republican winner was a Latino - with one exception being the Florida U.S. Senate race, in which Cuban-American Marco Rubio was elected with 55 percent of the Hispanic vote - the majority of the Hispanic vote went for the Democrat.
It happened in New Mexico, where Republican and immigration hard-liner Susana Martinez was elected governor - the first Latina in that position - without the majority of the Hispanic vote. It happened in Nevada, where Brian Sandoval - another anti-immigrant advocate - became the first Latino governor, without the majority of the Hispanic vote. And it happened in various congressional races in which Latino Republican candidates sold their souls to the racist and xenophobic anti-immigrant movement just to get elected.
"More Hispanics in the political world of the United States doesn't necessarily mean more support for immigration reform, because many belong to a new tendency of Latino politicians who want to reinforce anti-immigrant laws, including some who support the Arizona law," reported Univision newsman Jorge Ramos on "Al Punto," his prominent Sunday morning talk show.
"What we are seeing is a new phase."
It's true. We are dealing with a new phenomenon. These are people who openly put the interests of their party before those of their own community. I say it won't be long before many in the Hispanic community (including some who voted for them) call them everything but leaders. Just remember, you read it here first!
After all, most Latino voters were not fooled by Hispanic surnames wearing sheep's clothes. A large majority of Hispanic voters not only rejected conservative Latinos but also stopped some of the most prominent anti-Latino politicians - from Sharron Angle in Nevada to Tom Tancredo in Colorado - from winning the positions they sought.
It's only logical; the more the candidates scapegoat and attack Latinos the likelier they are to be thrashed by Latino voters.
In U.S. House races across the nation, despite the Republican tsunami that overturned the balance of power in that chamber, Latino voters favored Democrats - 64-35 percent - over Republicans.
In fact, it was the Hispanic vote that probably enabled the Democratic Party to retain a majority in the U.S. Senate. In California, 65 percent of Latinos voted for Democrat Barbara Boxer, and only 28 percent favored Carly Fiorina. In Colorado, the Democrat, Sen. Michael Bennet, was re-elected with overwhelming Latino support, 81-19 percent, over tea party favorite Ken Buck. In Nevada, Latino voters re-elected Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid over Republican Sharron Angle by a huge margin. One exit poll said he beat her 68-30 percent among Latinos. Another one said it was 90-8 percent. Either way, it was a well-deserved shellacking.
Also receiving a well-deserved beating - with the assistance of the Latino voters, who have been the victims of his moronic diatribes for years - was Tancredo, a former Republican congressman who ran as an independent for governor of Colorado. And California Gov.-elect Jerry Brown, a Democrat, clearly owes his return to Sacramento to Latino voters, who favored him - 64-30 percent - over Republican Meg Whitman, an immigration hard-liner (and exposed hypocrite) who lost an undocumented housekeeper on her way to losing the race for governor.
Although a group of angry Latino Republicans issued a statement challenging the Pew Hispanic Center's analysis of election results, the center is absolutely right for concluding that "Latino voters continued their strong support for Democratic candidates nationwide." Nevertheless, the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles claims Republicans made "modest, but important gains ... with Latino voters in the midterm elections." Obviously, the GOP propaganda machine is on overdrive.
Perhaps it's true that the GOP has made important gains with Latinos - especially when co-opting a group of Uncle Toms to do its dirty work - but will Latinos make important gains with the GOP?
Judging from the way many Republicans have campaigned, don't bet on it!
Miguel Pérez is a Professor with Department of Journalism, Communication & Theatre at Lehman College of the City University of New York. He is a Columnist, Creators Syndicate and a CNN Contributor. He can be reached at MigPerez@aol.com.