Latino Vote or Mexican Vote?

I’m always late on my podcasts. I have a lot of stuff I want to listen to and not much time for listening. This week I was catching up on the final week of Talk of the Nation episodes as well as some This American Life episodes from a month or more ago. They kept talking about how Republicans need to do something about immigration reform in order to get the Latino Vote – or at least not automatically lose it. After all, Latinos are natural allies with the Republicans – on average Latinos tend to be socially conservative and pro-business. Great allies! Except for that whole Republican racism image that I’m not entirely sure is undeserved. (Especially since it’s been a tactic they’ve been using ever since Nixon used it to wrest the South from the Democrats. Remember McCain’s alleged black son being a tactic to lose him key states in the South?) Instead of “Build that Dang Fence” they should be working on comprehensive Immigration Reform, the pundits said. But here’s the thing – Latinos are quite diverse culturally. See this video from The Daily Show:

(because of the way I encoded it, you may need to wait for the entire video to download – the white bar will have gone all the way across when it has – before you can watch)

I can’t stress enough how much truth there is in that clip. I grew up hearing about other Latinos the way racist whites talk about blacks. (Not from my parents, but from others in the family and larger community) Everyone always talked smack about the other Latinos. We all have different needs and different cares and, on top of that, it’s also a generational thing. The older Cubans of Miami won’t allow the embargo to be lifted. My generation and beyond wasn’t directly slighted (in fact I wouldn’t exist without it), so we favor other approaches. Frankly, we Cubans care a lot less about comprehensive immigration reform. For one thing, it’s often been the Castro regime that has restricted migration. (Except when it suited him – see the back story to the 1980s Scarface remake) For another, at least for now, Cubans can claim political asylum if they can make it to US soil – and they have a harder time (shark infested waters) than the Mexicans. Sure, things are bad now, but Cuba used to be Vegas before Vegas was really Vegas – no one was struggling to get to the US. I imagine the same is true for the vast majority of South Americans. I imagine most of them are OK within the current immigration system – and they don’t have any other choice given their distance from the border.

No, immigration reform is a tactic to get Mexican votes. (And maybe some other Central American countries) So, my question is – are Mexicans a large enough voting bloc anywhere? From what I’ve heard/read, Texans have redistricted things so that Republicans will always win anyway. California is a blue state, other than the occasional Republican governor. Are there enough Mexicans in Chicago to make a difference? I mean, if you think about it, since we do the Electoral College and not direct voting – are there enough Mexicans anywhere that it would actually make a difference? If anyone knows, I’d certainly like to know.

2 responses to “Latino Vote or Mexican Vote?”

  1. Well I still really care about immigration reform and, no matter who the Republicans are actually talking about when they talk about immigrants as drains on the economy or when Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) makes backhanded comparisons of immigrants and Mexicans to dogs, they are also talking about us.

    It may seem like they’re not talking to you or about you, but that’s only because you’re not the prevailing “problem” that they see. Think back to the anti-Cuban sentiment of the 1980s or the way that America constantly rejects its immigrant cultures. We may not be the biggest problem “now”, but I guarantee you that they’re the same people who would call Miami another nation or who would derisively tell us to learn English or go home.

    I don’t think it’s ok for any Latino to vote for a party that systematically hates any of us and wants people who aren’t like them (read: white) gone from this country.

    So, yeah, we’re not all the same and all our needs and desires shouldn’t be wrapped up in one neat, tidy package, but it’s just a short (shorter, actually) trip across the Caribbean from Mexico to Cuba and it’s only a matter of time before we need an issue voted on and they’re the ones not caring.

    I mean, I get how you can not sympathize with issues that might be strictly Mexican in nature (although I have no idea what those would be), but how could you not sympathize with an immigrant’s struggle for legitimacy in America? The fact that it was easier to seek asylum for our parents should make you more sympathetic tho people who have it much harder. Also I think you have a really skewed view of the dangers of crossing the US-Mexico border if you think it’s safer than crossing over from Cuba. Don’t forget there’s a whole desert in between the two.

    The reason why the House is so blind to these issues (and immigration reform is an important issue) is because, like you said, gerrymandering has secured most Representative seats regardless of ethnic composition, but the reason why the party is worried is because the national vote is in greater jeopardy the longer the GOP ignores minority voters and doubles down on the white vote.

    • You make a lot of good points. I think my main point was that the stuff they are being prescribed to do in order to get the “ever-growing latino vote” is really focused on Mexicans. And I guess my real point was – don’t call it getting the Latino vote if it’s only getting the Mexican vote. Now, that might be the largest portion of the Latino vote (Don’t know if it is), but that’s really what it is.

      But yeah, immigration reform is larger than the Mexican issue – it’s just that that’s all they ever talk about when they say immigration reform. Rather than focus on the H1B visas (for engineers).