The Latino Vote

By: Inoljt,

They're considered a minority in the United States, composing a rapidly growing sub-set of the population. The majority are immigrants; public sentiment, aroused by nativism, is sometimes hostile towards them. They vote heavily Democratic, but because many are immigrants they turn-out in numbers not as great as the share of the population they compose.

I'm not talking about Latinos. I'm talking about white Catholics in the early 20th century.

Today, Democrats hope that the Latino vote will be an essential part of a permanent majority, the keys to an unyielding period of Democratic dominance. Latinos were a major part of Obama's victory in states such as Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado. They've turned California blue for the foreseeable future. Red states Arizona and Texas are home to millions of Latinos, who represent a threat to the Republican character of those two states. Opportunity beckons.

Or so it seems.

In reality, however, it seems that the path of the Latino vote is the same as that of the white Catholic vote.

More below the flip.

The more Catholics that entered the country and the more time that passed, the more assimilated they became. In the early 20th century, Catholics were seen as an "other," as Italian and Irish immigrants not fully part of the Unite States. Today, however, such sentiment is long gone. We regard white Catholics as normal, dull. The days of anti-Catholic discrimination are long gone.

With it has disappeared the Democratic hold over the Catholic vote. JFK won nearly 80% of Catholics because he was Catholic, and because in that time there was still anti-Catholic sentiment. 40 years later, John Kerry lost the Catholic vote, despite being a Catholic.

Will Latinos follow the same path? It seems likely. A large part of what connects Latinos to the Democratic Party is that they are an immigrant community - and Democrats have always represented immigrants. If - when - they assimilate, and the word Latino becomes just another synonym for white, Latinos will behave much as white Catholics do today. Which is to say that they will vote no different from the rest of America.

Tags: Catholics, Democrats, Elections, JFK, Kennedy, Latinos, Politics, Republicans (all tags)



one difference

is that prominent elected Republicans didn't continue to bash white Catholics in recent decades the way Congressman Steve King and others are openly hostile to Latino immigrants.

During his short-lived presidential campaign, Tom Tancredo had a line in his stump speech that went something like, "I'm tired of hearing 'Press 1 for English, press 2 for Spanish.'" This was a big applause line for the GOP rank and file. The hostility to Spanish-speaking Americans is clear, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status.

Also, Roe v Wade pushed many white Catholics into the R column, but the Latino vote is largely D now despite the fact that everyone knows the Democratic Party (for the most part) supports abortion rights.

by desmoinesdem 2009-10-13 05:33AM | 0 recs
Re: one difference

The diarist has a point, though.  100 years from now the Democratic coalition may look different.

by Steve M 2009-10-13 01:31PM | 0 recs
Re: The Latino Vote

NO question that white Democrats, catholic or otherwise, immigrants and children of immigrants, bought into the racist Reagan line of the late seventies and eighties, either became Reagan Democrats or just switched to the Republican party. It was the second stage of the Southern Strategy, in this case associated with the political consequences of white flight from cities in the North. That switch was unquestionably the anti-Black Movement stemming from passage of the Kennedy-Johnson Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. It was inevitable.

Will we see this happening again among the new immigrants, the Latino-Americans, as they enter the middle-class?

by MainStreet 2009-10-13 11:12AM | 0 recs
Re: The Latino Vote

I think the bigger question is that the Democratic Party better concern themselves with this practice of viewing Spanish-Speaking people as a huge voting Bloc like Blacks or Catholics.

Some Latinos of African descent consider themselves Black once they get to the states, like folks from the Domincan Republic. Others, who can pass for white identify themselves as such. Cubans, Mexicans, Carribeans, Central Americans, none of these folks have much in common besides a language, and perhaps a 'look'.
The Democrats need to really understand this growing contingent before they can cater to them.

by xodus1914 2009-10-15 10:29AM | 0 recs


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