Friday, January 25, 2013

31 and 11.1 – the keys to comprehending future Latino political empowerment

A pair of numbers caught my attention when I read about a new poll by the Latino Decisions group that attempts to measure just how strong a presence politically the Latino population truly is.

The group came out with a new study that says the 2012 election cycle is the first in which the Latino vote can claim to be “decisive’ in determining the outcome – although I found it laughable in their statement that we’d be inaugurating Mitt Romney as president if Latinos had voted for him as strongly as we did for George W. Bush in 2004.

THE BUSH SUPPORT, under current circumstances, was the anomaly. It ought to be the goal that all Republicans strive to achieve – although way too many seem to want to have as little Latino support as possible.

That attitude has to change is the GOP wishes to remain politically relevant.

Although the Latino Decisions study seems to think there is room for change, if the Republican Party gets serious. And that is where those two numbers come into play.

Specifically, they are 31 percent and 11.1 million.

THE STUDY FOUND that 31 percent of all Latinos who voted last year said they would be willing to consider Republican officials in the future if the GOP winds up taking the lead in trying to implement serious immigration reform – not just something that calls for more deportations.

Something that acknowledges that most of the people now in this country without a valid visa are not a threat, and that there’s no legitimate reason they should not have been able to get a visa – except for the bureaucratic nightmares that occur both here and in their home countries.

Which is the reason why those ideologues who say they support immigrants who do things the “right” way don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. But back to the numbers.

So far, we have some Republican leadership lip service to trying to accomplish something, while also getting some screams and rebel-type yells from those GOPers who want nothing to do with the issue and want to erect a stone wall against all those “foreigners” whom they desperately want to believe don’t belong here.

WHICH MEANS THERE may well be a bloody civil war in the works within the Republican ranks. The prize could well be relevance amongst the Latino population – which steadily, but surely, is working its way up to being nearly one-third of the nation’s population.

The other number I noticed was 11.1 – as in million people.

For while there were 12.2 million Latinos who bothered to show up at the polling place on Election Day last year (with nearly three-quarters going against Romney to vote for Barack Obama), there were 11.1 million Latinos who are eligible to vote – but didn’t bother.

That is a lot of people whom Republicans could theoretically reach out to – since those individuals are not tied into any sense of a political establishment.

IN ALL HONESTY, most of those people are likely to turn out to be apathetic. They’re not going to bother to cast votes for anybody of any political persuasion.

Which means they’re fully assimilated into our society with all the other masses who take the “Archie Bunker” attitude toward voting – Carroll O’Connor’s character on “All in the Family” would say that his vote was so sacred that even he rarely used it.

But Republicans do have a significant sum of people they could reach out to – which, if they get them, could cut into that overwhelming lean toward the Democrats. Even though much of that is people who are “Democrats by default.” There’s no one else to seriously turn to (unless you want to be like comedian George Lopez and make jokes about “Tequila Parties”).

Which means the bottom line is that the Republican Party’s chance to appeal to Latinos is largely in the GOP’s own hands. We’ll get to see in coming months if they have any desire to grasp it, or let more support flow to the Democrats.

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