Latino Dems Should Rethink Political Party Loyalty

September 29, 2010 04:22

Hispanics should be more aware of the ideas of the Republican Party and of its proposed policies, which are much more in line with the beliefs of Latinos, than those espoused by Democrats.

From The Americano

This issue is one that suddenly is taking on a life of its own. Scholars and journalists are writing with increasing frequency on why Hispanics should be more aware of the ideas of the Republican Party and of its proposed policies, which are much more in line with the beliefs of Latinos, than those espoused by Democrats.

This latest study comes from Joel Kotkin, a distinguished Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University in Orange, CA and an adjunct fellow with the Legatum Institute in London. He is also the author of seven books including his most recent about the growing population of the United States. The book, published by Penguin Press  is titled:  “The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050 from Penguin Press.”

An article Kotkin published Monday by The Wall Street Journal, carried the headline: “Latino Dems should rethink loyalty.”

And Kotkin’s article addresses the issue with rigorous academic reasoning.

“Given the awful state of the economy, it’s no surprise that Democrats are losing some support among Latinos. But they can still consider the ethnic group to be in their pocket,” Kotkin wrote. “Though Latinos have not displayed the lock-step party loyalty of African-Americans, they still favor President Barack Obama by 57 percent, according to one Gallup Poll — down just 10 percentage points from his high number early in the administration.”

He added that this support is particularly unusual, “given that probably no large ethnic group in America has suffered more than Latinos from the Great Recession. This is true, in large part, because Latino employment is heavily concentrated in manufacturing, and even more so in construction.”

He said that 500,000 Latinos who worked in the construction sector have lost their jobs since the start of the recession, a fact easily understood if one considers that Hispanics are twice as likely to work in the construction industry than in any other sector of the economy.

Kotkin added that unfortunately for Hispanics, ” the Obama stimulus plan was light on physical infrastructure. It favored Wall Street, public-sector unions and large research universities. Big winners included education and health services — in which Latinos are under-represented.

He added that not surprisingly, Latino communities across the country are in trouble. Today, of the 10 most economically “stressed” counties, seven are majority or heavily Latino, according to The Associated Press.

In his article, Kotkin also blamed Republicans for not being able to sway this group of voters to its side.

“Theoretically, Republicans should be able to take advantage of this situation. But not with the party’s increasing embrace of its noisy nativist right — evident not only in support of the controversial Arizona immigration law but also in the strong move against ‘birthright citizenship.’ This makes the prospect of earning back President George W. Bush’s 40-plus-percentage-point support difficult at best,”  Kotkin wrote.

Thus, Latinos remain allied with Democrats whose policies inhibit the growth of construction and manufacturing jobs. This dichotomy puzzles many in the business community.

Kotkin quoted Larry Kosmont, a California business consultant in his article.

“You have all these job losses in Latino districts represented by Latino legislators who don’t realize what they are doing to their own people,” Kosmont said “They have forgotten there’s an economy to think about.”

Kotkin was particularly critical of Hispanic public officials, most of whom are Democrat.

” Despite that economic logic, Latino Democrats mindlessly follow liberal Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Henry Waxman of California and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who represent largely white, affluent white-collar constituencies on issues such as cap and trade and federal regulation of greenhouse gases. Whatever the intent, these policies are likely to further decimate blue-collar employment in Latino districts.,” he said.

“If they had independent thoughts, Latino Democratic politicians would be advocating positions that create new opportunities for their districts — particularly among young people. They could push, for example, a Works Progress Administration-like public works program that could provide new opportunities and skills training,”  Kotkin said.

“One possible reason for not doing so is the opposition of public employee unions, which dominate Democratic politics, particularly in urban districts, and would see such a program as competing against their special interests,” he said. “In contrast, Obama administration policies favor Ivy League schools, high-speed rail and light-rail service — issues with predominantly well-to-do, Anglo constituencies.”

It is a fascinating article. One with a theme that one has begun to find with increasing frequency in mainstream publications. The opportunity is there. Now all Republicans need to do is find a key to open the door and make the party more attractive to the fastest growing group of voters in the country. People, whose basic beliefs are more closely aligned with those of Republicans than with the liberals in the Democratic Party.

Kotkin finishes his piece by offering two ideas for Hispanic voters to consider:

1 – As Latinos become a critical part of our emerging economy, they need to develop a policy agenda that focuses less on old-style, machine ethnic politics and more on the critical issue of upward mobility.

2 – Latino voters might also consider avoiding the African-American one-party model by embracing both growth-oriented Democrats and enlightened Republicans. This is most likely to increase their political leverage, while creating a politics that supports their most fundamental interests.

The Americano / Agencies

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