Wednesday, November 12, 2008

There IS No Such Thing as a "Latino Voter"

If I read one more article analyzing the election results in terms of "Latino Voters"...I'm going to probably finish reading it anyway.  That's because as silly as this hyperinterpretation of what this election has meant to the country, it is still pretty cool to read about the numbers of Hispanics who went out and voted.

And that's another thing:  I don't call myself a "Latino"...to me that is a West Coast word.  Cuban Americans more often than not call themselves "Hispanic"...but what does it matter?

What DOES matter is that our new government must understand the distinct and contrasting opinions within the Hispanic/Latino communities in the U.S. so that instead of homogenizing a complex group into a tidy demographic bundle, the distinct needs and values of each group are considered.  While immigration is a concern to ALL Hispanics, the concerns vary dramatically:


  • Mexican-Americans want increased visa availability permitting long-separated families to unite; Cuban-Americans want the benefits of the Cuban Adjustment Act to remain in place, while acknowledging the disparity in treatment given to Haitian refugees.

  • Cuban-Americans and many other naturalized citizens who immigrated from South America lead toward more conservative views and are generally more concerned with taxation and foreign policy issues than are their Central American counterparts, who seem to vote more based upon "bread and butter" issues historically advanced by liberal politicians...health care, education, etc.


Barack Obama did indeed conquer the Hispanic vote, but we must understand that this was not a war but a series of battles to transform constituencies and bring them together.  Mexican-Americans elected him for one set of reasons; Cuban-Americans, many of whom still will not admit they voted for a Democrat, voted for him for different reasons.  (As a Cuban American myself, and as someone who has struggled to eliminate pure party-line thinking from our very indoctrinated pro-Republican community, I must say that I am very proud of how we voted)

As the Barackophobic emails from my brother-in-law and his uber conservative friends slow to a trickle, Hispanic/Latino Americans seem to agree on thing: it was time for a change.



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