On Attracting Latino Voters

It’s obvious that political parties are beginning to realize that if they want to win seats in the House or Senate, or if they want their Presidential nominee to win they have to appeal to Latino voters.  But for years of paying attention to Political campaigns I have noticed that some of the methods used by political parties to attract the Latino vote are offensive, disingenuous and quite superficial. Rarely do I see candidates genuinely voice their concerns  and aspirations for the Latino community. Here are but a few things that political parties and candidates should stop doing when campaigning.

Speaking Spanish to win our support

It’s great that candidates can speak more than one language. As a multilingual person I can say that it’s quite nice. It’s also great that they are making good use of their language skills to share their political ideologies and policies to appeal to a broader base. The problem is that simply spewing whatever policies you endorse in Spanish doesn’t mean that Latinos are automatically going to give you their support, especially when as a candidate the policies and ideologies you support are at odds with Latinos. Don’t fool yourselves into thinking that just because you can speak Spanish or memorized a few lines for your Spanish language political ad that Latinos are going to favor you. Be it in English or Spanish we understand what policies you support and if they do not appeal to us then you are simply not going to get our vote. We are not idiots. When it comes to voting we are going to choose the candidate that supports policies that favor our community. We are not going to go into the voting booth and check your name because you spoke Spanish at a convention or in your political ad. Speaking Spanish doesn’t automatically give you insight to our community. What you should do is use your Spanish-speaking skills to learn directly from our community, you don’t even have to speak Spanish to do that because guess what? Most of us are native English speakers and we can translate to our non-English speaking family members quite well.

Using Latinos as pawns

Using a Latino as a nominee in your political party isn’t going to get us to vote for you. Latinos are not going to vote for your party or choose your candidate just because he or she has a Spanish sounding name. How dare you think that you will score a win by having a Latino speak on your behalf! What kind of morons do you take us for? If you learned anything from past elections it is that people don’t simply vote for a candidate based on the racial, ethnic or gender group they identify with. Take the GOP for example, when they used Marco Rubio thinking it would give them an advantage with Latino  voters. Guess what? It did not work. Stop using a token Latino to run in your party just to ”manipulate us” into favoring your party. We are informed voters. Leave your gimmicks elsewhere. Once again, when we go into the voting booth we are not simply going to choose the candidate with the most Latino sounding name. That’s not how shit works. And if you think I’m wrong keep doing that and keep losing.

Stop Coming to Our Communities For Photo Ops

Showing up out of nowhere to a community you’ve never been to before and probably never even heard of or cared to visit for political gain is  disingenuous and superficial.  When candidates show up to our communities to take pictures and then publicize to “show that they are down with Latinos” I feel uncomfortable for them. Especially when they are there to promote political ideals that do not quite reflect the ideals of our communities.  Watching them struggle to connect with people of the communities they are trying to appeal to  purely for political gain  is so awkward I can’t help but to feel awkward for them.  Politicians must realize that because you came to visit our neighborhood once and were introduced by Mariachi or a salsa group doesn’t mean you are going to gain our support.  Not when you stand in front of a crowd and make propositions that our community won’t benefit from.

Conclusion

Democrats and Republicans its time you check yourselves. Superficial approaches to winning the Latino vote do not work. If you want to learn about what Latinos actually want ask Latinos, not a group of non Latinos who think they know what we expect to hear from our candidates. What political parties have to understand is that Latino voters are just as informed as other voters. Those gimmicks political parties have been using are plain RACIST. We vote for leaders who acknowledge our struggles and support our causes. We vote for candidates who we can identify with, and I don’t mean ethnically.

Immigration is an important issue in the Latino community and guess what? Belonging to the party that supports racist anti-immigration policies is definitely not going to win you our vote. When members of your party use terms such as “anchor babies and “illegals” to describe people like me and my parents, guess who I’m not voting for. Furthermore, supporting harsh immigration bills that will have a direct effect on Latino families is not going to get us to favor you (I’m talking about Obama and you democrats). Being against the Dream Act is going to get us to overlook you and move on to the next candidate. Even if you speak Spanish or have a Latino candidate to speak in favor of these racist policies we won’t give you the vote. Please believe that.

Education reform is  a key issue and when politicians in your party are still going on about segregation we will not give you the time of day. If your candidates are in favor of gutting education programs, financial aid and raising tuition we are going to take our vote elsewhere because you clearly have not done your homework on the Latino population. Why would we give our vote to a party or candidates who know nothing about us? Talk to us about jobs and upward economic and social mobility and how your party and/or candidate plans to make that happen and we will listen. But the minute you talk about immigrants taking American jobs you will lose us. Favor not raising the minimum wage and you will lose us. Favor cutting collective bargaining and the seat you are running for will probably not be won by you. Ultimately, if your political party or candidate is supporting policies that will overwhelmingly have direct negative impacts on our lives then we will take our vote elsewhere. So save your Spanish-speaking skills and your token candidate and resign yourselves to losing our votes if all you’re doing is relying on racist gimmicks to sway us. Go and take pictures in communities where you feel comfortable in.

What we want from political candidates and parties is that they have a GENUINE interest in our community. We can spot superficial candidates from afar. It’s time you start to change your  prejudiced  and racist attitudes  about Latinos.  The number of Latino registered voters is growing and so is our population, so if you want to appeal to us be GENUINE.

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