Monday, March 08, 2010

Immigration policy and Latino votes

This op-ed in the Washington Post echoes conventional wisdom about Latino voters and immigration reform:

But if there is no serious progress on the issue, many disillusioned Latinos will stay home in November. Others will decide that because Democrats can't deliver on immigration reform, they might as well vote Republican on the values issues.

I have seen this (or a variation on it) repeated many times, but always without evidence.  Is it true?  It might be, but no one ever examines its assumptions, which are the following:

First, Latinos form a voting bloc regardless of their background.

Second, Latinos vote primarily in terms of immigration policy.

Third, Latinos vote secondarily in terms of social policy.

Fourth, if Democrats do not address immigration policy, then Latinos will not vote for them because they are uninterested in the other issues Democrats champion.

It is obviously not likely that all of these assumptions hold.  So, again, will (at least some, but how many?) Latino voters be upset enough at the failure of immigration reform that they stay home?  Perhaps, but we need better arguments.  I complained about this a long time ago, but apparently my message is not reaching everyone.


Anonymous,  9:36 AM  

Good Morning Professor,
(I have been dying to write that for a long time and never remembered. Childish, no?)
I agree with your dismissal of the assumption that Latinos vote as a block on the basis of immigration policy. It may be one of the factors of a "Latino Block" but only one, and probably minor at that.
I would guess that a "Latino voting block" (assuming in both cases that such exists*) has more common elements with an "African-American voting block" than anything else. Specifically, the Latino Block will divide along the wealth lines and the oppressor/oppressed lines than anything else. Black voting divides similarly. African-Americans and Latinos of wealth vote Republican and the less wealthy vote Democratic. They vote their respective economic interests. Immigration policy is only one aspect of that and to tie less wealthy Latino economic interests and immigration together requires a lot more space than available here.
Having said all that, the Old Media seems as incapable at adapting to a new paradigm in political thought as they are in adapting to new forms of delivery of their product. Latino and Black voters appear to be much more sophisticated than less wealthy white voters. Less wealth white voters will ignore their economic best interests to vote some stupid distraction issue(s), thereby keeping people in positions of political power who continue to oppress them. And the corporate controlled media, whose economic interests lie in discouraging such a concept, do discourage it by refusing to recognize it. Anytime class (wealth, or otherwise) is brought up, it is labeled as incitement to class warfare.
This, I think, is what the Rabid Republicans fear most: the sophisticated Latino voter joining with the sophisticated black voter to nullify their power base, the unsophisticated white voter. The anecdotal evidence and surface evidence is the oppressive and irksome anti-immigrant legislation in the South over the last few years.
If somebody would do research on this area of scholarly research (hint, hint, professor) they might be able to get themselves published in a peer-review journal or even turn it into a book. Would help much for those seeking a full professorship or tenure. Hint, Hint. Besides, some of us would like to read the results.

Defensores de Democracia 7:55 AM  

Excellent Posts and Comments of Mr Weeks and Mr Hadstate. I have referred and linked to this present page, in my site MILENIALS.COM, in GATHER.COM ( a big Forum ), and other sites and blogs.

I have little to add to the excellent information that we receive in "Two Weeks Notice" about Immigration.

Only my concern that Mr Obama could be harmed by the debate on Immigration and lose seats in Congress next November.

This is a dangerous political game. But I esteem Mr Obama as a very intelligent and shrewd person, a calculating political machine, a Chicagoan Pol.

Perhaps this is part of the political game, and Mr Obama knows that things will take a lot of time and work.

Nothing will be easy about Immigration Legislation, and year 2010 won't see any progress.

Vicente Duque

Defensores de Democracia 9:54 AM  

The American Congress may pass one day a Hard and Tough Legislation against "Illegal Aliens" or a soft legislation with some heart against the plight of some people, not all of them "criminals".

And I respect that decision because Congress is an elected body and represents the will of the nation.

But let's see that America is no longer the America that those Great Masters of the Novel described for us :


"Elmer Gantry" America no longer exists - But there are buds, plant shoots of "the good old days" and greenshots like Sarah Palin.

"Elmer Gantry", movie of 1960, is extremely important for me as Great Cinema ART, Great Actors, Great History, Great Culture Explanation.

Isn't this amazing, at the same time and in the same year the "Elmer Gantry" was preaching, the "Great Gatsby" and "Daisy" were having a slow romance in a Luxurious setting, another Beautiful snapshot of 1924 America given by novelist Francis Scott Fitzgerald. ( novel published in 1925 ).

I beg to readers not to be angry with me, for selecting "Elmer Gantry" as number one movie for explaining America.

I am aware that America is now very diverse, more than in the Prohibition days of 192x when fictional Hypocrite Pastor Elmer Gantry had his adventures with Sister Sharon Falconer.

Sinclair Lewis wrote this novel in 1926. I am aware and realize that America is not 100% protestant now, and that America is not 100% Revivalist or Born Again.

There is more in America than Protestantism or Naive Revivals, with the added spice of Hypocrites like "Elmer Gantry" .... or sincere persons like Sister Sharon Falconer, and very few American Ladies are now Lulus in prostibules, under a Madam.

Sinclair Lewis, the novelist is a genius. He took a snapshot of a REAL BIG FAMILY in America : The White Protestants, very naive in their Revivals, and too generous with their monies.

That America no longer exists but there are buds, shoots of "the good old days" and greenshots like Sarah Palin. Talking to us about the "Real America" and the need to be given back their "America".

Youth, Minorities, Politics :

Vicente Duque

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