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I was recently made aware of this article by Ellie Lopez-Bowlan that I found very insightful and thought you would enjoy.
 
Pedro Celis, Ph.D.

 

Election showed Hispanics evolving politically

Ellie Lopez-Bowlan


1/29/2005 09:59 pm

With the presidential inauguration now over, many continue to evaluate why there were increasing Hispanic Republican votes and the Democrats missed the boat … I mean vote. Representatives from both parties visited Nevada in the hopes of attracting the Hispanic vote. While explanations are not simple, Hispanics are evolving, and either a party catches up with them, or they will lose their votes. Republicans around the nation and in Nevada have been attracting Hispanics and are finding a sense of simpatico in their interactions.

Some speculated that the election was won because of the president’s stance on values, or that he ran a more focused campaign. Yet, we cannot ignore the data that demonstrates that Hispanics voted Republican in record numbers. In the 2000 election, President Bush received 35 percent of the Hispanic vote; in 2004, he received 44 percent, a 26 percent increase in the number of votes. This increase represents more than simple “moral value alignment.”

Democrats sent visitors to Nevada who targeted “the working poor.” Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union, came to the University of Nevada, Reno, to receive an honorary degree and then went on to campaign for Democrats.

Republicans invited individuals who may have come from humble beginnings but went on to achieve success: Hector Barreto, head of the Small Business Administration; Alberto Gonzalez, then-general counsel to President Bush; and Rosario Marin, 41st treasurer of the United States.

Hispanics are not all illegal aliens, undocumented or uneducated individuals. We are not all disadvantaged grape pickers (even if we did this as children or in past careers). Many Hispanics are second- and third-generation citizens, born in this country. Ruben Navarrette’s recent column about Latinos assimilating into U.S. culture was right on target. A recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center found that nearly half of Hispanics see themselves as white.

Personally, I don’t feel that the issue is as narrow as “viewing oneself as white to succeed” but to see oneself as a proud American. With this understanding comes pride to do better than past generations, desire to succeed by getting a good education, and the need to make positive choices and decisions. Democrats have failed to recognize these facts.

Many Democrats are stuck in the “handout” solution to problems: “Vote for me, and I will ensure that you get the services that you need.” The problem with this “paternal approach” to politics is that it is insulting to those of us who have pulled ourselves out of poverty by acquiring educations or skilled trades, and who value paying our own way.

We may respect the work of Huerta, but many of us worked hard to leave the fields behind. Democrats continue to see Hispanics as all needy, poverty stricken and social service seekers. Perhaps Democrats needed to balance their outreach efforts by parading around Hispanics from “all walks of life,” especially those who made it out of poverty on their own merit.

Recently, I asked a new immigrant who had become a citizen and had voted for President Bush and other Republicans, why he had done so. He said, “Bush was doing things for Hispanics.” Considering the fact that U.S. Hispanic-owned businesses were expected to reach 2 million and generate revenues totaling $274 billion in 2004, I would say that Hispanics are doing things for this country as well and Democrats need to acknowledge this.

Republicans have taken the lead in acknowledging that in order to grow, a party must reflect the ever-growing population. In return, Hispanics are responding to this approach and taking their votes with them.

Ellie Lopez-Bowlan of Reno was regional chair of Hispanics For Bush and co-chair of Hispanic Republicans. She is serving as a community member of the Gazette-Journal’s Editorial Board.

Copyright 2005 The Reno Gazette-Journal

 

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