What an incredible day. Absolutely gorgeous weather, and, since I had a Herculean list of chores to do, I was grateful for that. Most of my day was spent atop my trusty Ford tractor, moving large rolls of hay around in anticipation of moving the horses to Winter pasture, and doing what I hope is my last Big Mowing Job of the year. So, okay, I’m riding around the property with my favorite music mix blaring through my headphones and I start to thinking about next Tuesday. It looks like Obama should win by a healthy margin, but, even if he just wins by a nose, I’d like to weigh in on why…his name is Jose’ The Plumber.
Much will be written and discussed about this historic election for weeks following Election Night, but I’m jumping the gun here because I plan to be busy nursing the Mother of All Hangovers from Wednesday until around Thanksgiving. Most pundits have at least mentioned The Hispanic Vote, but always seem quick to add that Hispanics “don’t vote as a bloc.” While this might possibly be true due to A) The Cubans in Florida typically align themselves with the Republicans, and B) wait,this time, there is no B. Thats it. So, lets go ahead and take South Florida out of the mix, and whats left is about a bizillion of us languishing in the other 47 states. (We don’t do Alaska, thank you very much, and Hawaii is too far for us to swim)
Now, its quite true that Latinos don’t vote as a bloc on every issue. Well-to-do Hispanics grow a tad more conservative about taxes and economic policy, and we are probably evenly split with respect to “social issues” like gay marriage or abortion. But every single one of us has an undocumented friend or relative, often times both. Heres the thing, though. Even someone like me, who had an undocumented parent and grandparents, realizes that unchecked immigration is a problem. I have worked as a paid advocate for immigrants, yet, i was open to the idea of applying penalties for crossing our border illegally and I am of the belief that the path to citizenship should be long and arduous. ( I see far too many native-born Americans taking their citizenship for granted, and not exercising those rights so many fought to give them, so i feel that working hard to achieve citizenship makes one far more likely to actively participate in the democratic process)
But, like so many other issues, the GOP had a golden opportunity to not only solve a problem, but to actually increase their base with at least a large segment of the Latino community. Even Do Everything Wrong Bush got this one right. Instead of approaching the problem with compassion and common sense, they sat on their hands and let Soul-less talk radio hacks run amok. In the time it takes to flip on a radio, the entire Latino community closed ranks. Again, most of us were open to workable ideas that satisfied our sense of law and order, while treating the offenders as people with certain universal rights.
This tone-deafness seems to affect the way the GOP approaches almost every issue. Lets take abortion, for example. The very term “pro-life” is contentious. By clinging to it, they have all but said that if you don’t take their side, you are pro-death. Seriously, do any of you know people who are pro-death, especially of babies? Now, its true that someone like me will always fight hard to insure that women have the say over their own bodies…for me, thats the deal breaker. So, that fight will always be there. However, in the mean time, shouldn’t we be doing all we can to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies? How many people could the GOP had won over by adopting a position that, while they may always seek to outlaw abortion, they will begin the fight by educating our youngsters about safe sex and birth control when they enter puberty, if not before? What about making contraception readily available and cheap? How many lives might have been saved? Instead, it was their way or the proverbial highway. Do they not see how intelligent people might surmize that the GOP would really rather have it as a wedge issue?
Well, thats how The Latino community feels about the immigration issue. Don’t play us like pawns in your political chess game. More and more of us are reaching the voting age. The way the GOP handled the immigration issue will cost them this year in California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, and yes, Florida.
Yo, guys…any of those happen to be swing states? Wait until 2012.