[Marxism] Latinos sank the Republicans in the mid-term elections

Joaquin Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Wed Nov 8 05:14:44 MST 2006

	Here's the news neither the Faux News Channel nor the Corporate News
Network nor even the august New York Times is willing to tell you about what
happened in the U.S. elections.

	A massive wave of Latino anti-Republican votes sunk the Grand Old

	According to the corporate media's exit poll, two years ago the
Republicans got 44% of the Latino vote, and the Democrats barely 53% --the
first time Democrats had gotten less than 60% among Latinos in a national
election since exit polls made such statistics possible.

	This year, according to exit poll figures apparently noticed only by
CNN's Spanish-language network, the Republican vote among Latinos crashed to
26%, and the Democrats got 73%, a full 20-point improvement on the 2004

	The national Congressional exit poll indicates the election result
was 54% Democrats, 46% Republicans. The increase in the Latino vote for
Democrats was about 1-1/2%, which would have left the Democrats shy of the
53% that election wonks had calculated the Democrats would need to take the
House (53% because "structural advantages" --gerrymandering-- give the
Republicans in effect a built-in lead).

	Of course, in any close election any number of groups can claim that
they were the ones who made the difference. But even a 10% party shift in
any demographic group on a national scale is virtually unheard of in the
United States, where normally elections are decided not by who people decide
to vote for, but by which people decide to vote. Yes, there are sometimes
changes in the electorate as a whole, but these tend to be spread across
many sections of the population and tend to be either episodic [like
Goldwater's crushing defeat in 1964] or gradual [like the consolidation of
Republican dominance in the South]. 

	So clearly this was an exception. In state after state, many tens of
thousands of Latinos who for whatever reason had gone Republican in 2004
went Democrat instead. Moreover, this is a significant shift from the
pattern well before the 2004 elections. In the three previous elections, the
percentage of the Hispanic vote for the Democrats had been 63%, 62%, and 65%
in 1998, 2000 and 2002. This cut into not just the "new" Hispanic Republican
voters of 2004, but habitual Hispanic Republican voters.

	And the shift if even a little bigger than it seems because the
Cubans traditionally vote Republican and would not be directly affected by
the changes in immigration law. This shift is almost entirely among
non-Cuban Latinos. In other words, the Republicans start out with something
on the order of 8% or 10% of the Latino vote from the Cubans. So of the
additional 34% they go in 2004, from the non-Cubans, they lost more than

	For a party that's already a single-digit fringe party in the Black
community, to relegate itself to the same status in the rapidly growing
Latino community is likely to be suicidal.

	As I write this, the control of the Senate is still up in the air.
The two parties are tied, with 49 seats each, and two states --Virginia and
Montana-- still to be "called," although Democrats have razon-thin leads in
both. Given the number of close Senate races, it is obvious the *shift* in
the Latino vote has made the difference in giving Democrats a very
significant victory, and in this case whether they achieve full control of
the Senate or not. Because there, 60 are votes needed to pass major
legislation or confirm judges and high-level executive branch appointees. In
the Senate, it takes a super-majority to end debate, so each additional
Democrat makes things that much more difficult for the Republicans.

	Andres Oppenheimer, a Miami Herald columnist appearing as an
election-night commentator on CNN en Español, had a ready explanation,
indeed, an obvious one, for the change in Latino voting patterns. 

	This was the Latino community's punishment of the Republicans for
having spearheaded a racist, anti-immigrant offensive since the 2004

	At the beginning of 2004, President Bush put forward the sketch of a
plan for immigration reform that offered at least temporary legalization to
millions of undocumented workers in the country. In presenting his proposal,
Bush heaped praised on immigrants: 

	"As a Texan, I have known many immigrant families, mainly from
Mexico, and I have seen what they add to our country. They bring to America
the values of faith in God, love of family, hard work and self reliance --
the values that made us a great nation to begin with....

	"As a nation that values immigration, and depends on immigration, we
should have immigration laws that work and make us proud. Yet today we do
not. Instead, we see many employers turning to the illegal labor market. We
see millions of hard-working men and women condemned to fear and insecurity
in a massive, undocumented economy."

	That helped Bush achieve his relatively high vote among Latinos
(although many experts believe flaws in the design and execution of the 2004
poll exaggerated Bush's support, which was probably 40%, they said).

	But after the election, the Republicans thanked the Latino community
by spearheading a campaign of repressive, anti-immigrant laws, the most
notorious of which was the Sensenbrenner Bill in the House of
Representatives which would have declared all undocumented immigrants to be
criminals. The White House specifically endorsed the Sensenbrenner Bill
after the House passed it at the end of 2005.

	The bill seemed set to sail through the Senate with one or another
cosmetic change when a series of mass mobilizations shook the country from
March to May, the largest sustained series of such protests ever in U.S.

	This stopped the Sensenbrenner all-immigrants-are-criminals bill. It
was DOA in the Senate, so hasty efforts were made to cook up a phony
"compromise" which sought to find the middle ground between those who sought
to criminalize immigrants and those who claimed to be for legalizing them.
This, of course, came to nothing legislatively, but it did have the effect
if dividing the immigrants rights movement and stopping the mega-marches.

	Then at the last minute of the legislative session, snuck through in
the middle of the night, the Republicans passed and sent to the president
one provision of the Sensenbrenner Bill, to build a 1150 kilometer Great
Wall of America along much of the U.S.-Mexico border. The Anglo press
largely dismissed this as election-year grandstanding, since the bill called
for the wall to go up post-haste but did include the requisite funding. 

	But in Latin America and especially Mexico, as well as in Latino
media throughout the U.S., it was seen as one more gratuitous insult, and
one more reason to give the Republicans a thrashing.

	I know some people will say, this mass Latino repudiation of the
Republicans is meaningless, since many of the Democrats are just as bad. In
Georgia, for example, the Democrat gubernatorial candidate said he would
have signed the same anti-immigrant bill that Rep. Gov. Sonny Perdue used as
a centerpiece in his re-election campaign. 

	But when someone attacks your community they way that Republicans
have been attacking Latinos, people are going to do something about it. And
if some Democrat politician is the only thing to hand that can be used as a
club, that's what people will use.

	Yes, I know all the problems and limitations with it. But I can't
help feeling good about it. 

	And a word to Democrat politiqueros: you don't own us, you owe us.
If you think you can stab us in the back with impunity, just look at what
happened to Bush and his friends this time around. 


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