Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Thoughts on the Goldwater Institute Analysis

Let's pick some nits, shall we?
Hispanic support for Republican candidates plummeted by 10 points, to 30 percent from 40 percent, between the 2004 presidential election to the 2006 congressional election debacle, costing the GOP as many as four congressional seats. In next year's presidential election, Hispanic votes could make the difference in four Western states, including Arizona. If Republicans continue chasing Hispanic voters away, they can kiss their national electoral prospects goodbye.

The best way to reverse the trend is to get the immigration issue behind us as quickly as possible. Hispanic Americans are conservative on most social issues, including immigration, making them a natural constituency, or at least open to voting, for Republicans. But what Hispanics saw in Republicans who made the 2006 elections a referendum on deporting illegal immigrants was a face of hostility.

I suppose a good starting point is to state the obvious: Latinos are not a monolithic group.

We are as diverse within that umbrella term as the United States itself, if not more. I guarantee you that the politics of a Marielito is nowhere near the same as a Xicano activist in East Los Angeles or a Puertorriqueña in Nueva York - to provide a small example of what I'm talkin' about.

However. I think there has been some consolidation of sentiments nationally despite our diversity, due to the fierce bickering over immigration reform. Mr. Bolick is right to characterize it as "hostility". When the headlines ring out regarding the latest workplace raid, we pay attention to those officials who praise the gestapo actions of ICE. After all, the articles usually provide a laundry list of nationalities that were apprehended.
According to John Chakwin, special agent in charge for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 20 of the women who were detained were Mexican, three were Salvadoran, seven were from Honduras and one was from Nicaragua.

We are also aware that this hostile climate has reinforced a long-standing stereotype among non-Latinos that we are all border-hoppers.
Some neighbors said they hadn't noticed anything unusual at New Century Roofing.

"We didn't see anything suspicious, but there's so many Hispanics that are employed in the labor force that it doesn't surprise me," one neighbor said.

If one can't see why a statement like that is offensive, especially an elected official, then I suggest a leukotomy stat. Hispanic/Latino/Illegal - they're all the same. Right?

Going back to the Goldwater Institute analysis, Bolick states:
The best common denominator for Republicans and Hispanics is religion. Two major recent studies found that religion is central to the lives and political beliefs of most Hispanics and that their approach to religion is deeply conservative. Most Hispanics pray at least once a day and attend church at least once a month; nearly half of Hispanic Catholics, twice as many as other Catholics, believe the Bible is the literal word of God.
No, no, no, no and hell no. Can you feel the propaganda waves bouncing off your face from the monitor?

"...their approach to religion is deeply conservative" - Speaking on this from a practicing Catholic point-of-view, it is true that the Church is (regrettably) tracking hard to the right, especially under this current Pope - but if you go to a predominately Latino parish you will see that the social justice/liberation theology wing of Catholicism is alive and well despite the hierarchy's continued attempts to stamp it out or at least ignore it, hoping it'll go away. It won't.

It is troubling to me that the GOP thinks the best way to recover from their electoral woes is to do more illegal meshing of political and religious platforms. Having spirituality (sometimes it's even within an organized religion, but not always) is, in my opinion, about discovering the best way to live your life within the context of a wider community - the world.

The authoritarian tendencies of the conservative dog-whistle that Bolick is tooting out is not something that will fly - especially if the outcomes threaten our families, educational systems and ability to live our culture unabated. Speaking of education, he goes on to say
Hispanics consistently rank education as one of the top issues of concern but currently favor Democrats on the issue by more than 2-1.

Republicans can change that equation by championing school choice among Hispanic families and voters.
Again - no. What would certainly get the attention of just about every single person in this country is to adequately fund the schools that are already in place. Equalize the ability for a barrio school to provide the same quality of education that you would find in an affluent area. You would get virtually no opposition for advocating that we pay teachers what they are worth, and ending the atrocity that is the No Child Left Behind Act that is straining the entire education system to the breaking point.

Ending his analysis, Bolick writes this:
Hispanic Republicans have won significant offices in Florida, New Mexico, New York and elsewhere. But in Arizona, the GOP seems decidedly unwelcoming: There are few Hispanic Republican officeholders across the state, and even conservative Hispanics cannot win contested primaries against opponents sounding anti-immigration themes.
The reason can be summed up in one word: Minutemen.

At all levels of government, the Republican party has allowed their public faces to be the most rabid of nativists in our midst. The GOP State Chairperson is not only one of the vigilantes, he was also the architect of Proposition 200. Plus, lets not forget that the now-retired JD Hayworth was a huge supporter of the Binocular Brigade. Oh, and how about the State Legislature's darling conservative Russell Pearce?

And their candidates? Last fall, Randy Graf was out spooking everyone for Halloween with pregnant girls warning against invading hordes of Mexicans while Ron Drake was advocating for the Great Wall of America™.

These are not the voices of moderation. These are not voices who are even making an attempt to understand where the Latino community is coming from on the various issues of the day. It is a group who has chosen to define us in the most negative way possible. Take the Superintendent for Public Instruction, for example, in a Letter to the Editor to the AZRepublic in February:
In a column dated Jan. 29, 2007 "Let's ditch '50s mentality," Republic editorial writer Linda Valdez criticizes me for one of my lawyer's arguments in the Flores case.

This argument was that Tucson Unified should not be heard claiming that their English-language program suffers from lack of state funds. In fact, they waste huge amounts of the money they do receive on programs like "ethnic studies," including "Raza" studies. ("La Raza" means "the race.")

The discrediting of MEChA is something that the far-right has been trying to do for decades. It is part of a coordinated fear campaign that ties very strongly into the Reconquista myth. XicanoPwr has done the best dissection that I've seen on the tubes of how these nativists are trying to stamp out any efforts on our part to keep the indigenous cultura of this area alive.

When the Superintendent of Public Instruction directly targets programs that help equalize the education for young Latinos using macro-propaganda (La Raza means The People, you ignorant fool, as in 'We, The People') then policy recommendations from people like Clint Bolick and the Goldwater Institute are frivolous at best. It is just one example of how this campaign of division is no accident.

Nice try, though.

Crossposted at the ePluribus Media Community Site

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