The Hispanic Voter Paradox

Wednesday, 21 Nov 2012 04:31 PM

By James Walsh

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Hispanics voters, particularly the Mexican majority, proved to be a paradox in the 2012 election. The image of Hispanics as family and faith oriented, hard-working, entrepreneurial, conservative economically, supporters of education, and opponents of legalizing drugs was debunked at the polls.

Pre-election surveys showed Hispanic voters more concerned about jobs, the weak economy, education for their children, and healthcare than they were about immigration; yet they voted for four more years of President Barack Obama.

Republicans need principled politicians such as former Gov. Jeb Bush (left) and Sen. Marco Rubio to sell U.S. values to Hispanic voters.
(Getty Images)
By doing so, they found themselves supporting attacks on religion and promoting gay marriage, abortion, legalized marijuana, fiscal irresponsibility, and “revenge” voting.

A survey by the Latino independent blog, VOXXI, found 75 percent of Hispanics opposed any change to Medicare. On Election Day, they voted for big government and taxing the “rich.”

How did the Democrats do it?

Men, women, and children of Hispanic heritage presently make up 16.7 percent of the U.S. population. Those of Mexican heritage make up 64.9 percent (or about 33.9 million) of the Hispanic population in the United States.

They also make up about 72 percent of those residing illegally within U.S. borders. Obama received 71 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012. This vote, an increase from 2008, won the election for him.

Republicans are now agonizing over how to win back Hispanic voters. Pundits opine that the Hispanic vote was Mitt Romney’s greatest weakness, and Mexican-American voters led the opposition to the Republican candidate.

For Mexicans, it may have been centuries of resentment against the role of “white” Europeans in their homeland’s history, a resentment they carried with them to the United States.

Republicans will need to show these voters the benefits that flow from the culture of freedom in the United States, from liberty, individual responsibility, rule of law, and values based on U.S. heritage. This will not be easy. A Pew Research Center report of April 2012 found that 69 percent of U.S. Hispanics say they do not share U.S. culture.

Many Mexican immigrants find that the U.S. lifestyle may not be what they risked their lives to attain. They find that the weak U.S. housing and construction markets affect them economically.

Concerned about sub-par teaching in public schools, healthcare costs, and job opportunities, some are self deporting. A Pew Hispanic Center report found that 1.4 million Mexicans living in the United States self-deported in 2007-2010.

To understand the Mexican voter, Republicans need to look at Mexico’s history. Mexico was “discovered” by the Spaniards in 1519 and conquered by 1521. After three centuries of Spanish dominance, the Mexican people were led in an 1812-13 revolt by a Catholic priest who was later executed by the Spanish authorities.

For the next 120 years, Mexico suffered political revolutions, assassinations, internecine fighting, and turmoil. In 1857, a radical liberal Constitution was pushed through by President Benito Juarez, a Mestizo (of the uneducated class).

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, nihilistic leaders like Juarez, Villa, and Zapata led the Mestizos in attacks on business, military, and “rich” communities as part of class warfare that included attacks on religion, especially the Catholic Church.

Historically, Mexico has had three economic and social classes, Mestizos — Indians or indigenous people, and the lower economic and uneducated class; Criollos — those of mixed Indian and Spanish/European blood and the middle class; and Peninsulares — pure Spanish/ European blood (white) and the business and land-owning class. The majority of illegal aliens entering the United States are Mestizos.

As members of the lower economic class, they favor the Democrats who offer welfare programs, strong government intervention in economic affairs, and progressive taxation of the “rich.” These immigrants see Republicans as elitists (like the Peninsulares) who favor the “rich” over the “poor”— a viewpoint influenced by Mexican history.

In contrast, Mexican-Americans who have lived in the United States for decades and centuries favor the Republican political model.

Legal and illegal Hispanic immigrants, however, are absorbing the secular, non-traditional values that the United States now offers. For instance, 53 percent of Hispanic single women have children, and Hispanics living in poverty has spiked upward to 28 percent.

The Obama re-election theme of class warfare was aimed in large part at Mexican immigrants familiar with attacking the “rich.” They were won over with promises of “Obama bucks” — federal government freebies.

One Hispanic said, “We vote with our hearts,” and another proclaimed, “We own America. They owe us.”

Republicans need to convince Hispanic voters that reliance on government welfare programs destroys self-reliance and individual prosperity, while liberty and limited government nurture the human spirit and represent the best way out of poverty.

Republicans need principled politicians such as former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Gov. Susana Martinez, D-N.M., and Gov. Brian Sandoval, R-Nev.) to sell traditional U.S. values to a paradoxical Hispanic population.

James H. Walsh was associate general counsel with the U.S. Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1983 to 1994. Read more reports from James Walsh — Click Here Now.

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