Seneca Adumbrates the New Year

December 28th, 2011 · 6 Comments

By Seneca

2012 could be the actual beginning of the long expected Latino political awakening. Why? Perhaps sheer numbers, the reaction to the dire economic costs the community has endured, the evaporation of Latino family wealth in the housing bubble and great Mortgage scams, high unemployment and under-employment, continuously high drop out rates for high school completion of any ethnic group, the appallingly high prison population, and an alarming obesity and diabetes problem that plagues the community. All of these issues are maddening and worthy of action. Simply stated, the Latino community writ large is in crisis.

This crisis is further exacerbated by the anti-immigrant (now largely anti-Latino) social and political movement emerging throughout the country with such mean-spirited fury in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina and many other locales signals a most distressing phenomena. The continued aggressive deportations have helped portray Latinos as a marginalized class of dark, uneducated, criminally menacing and generally undesirable people. Our discouraging lack of unity or even outrage is sadly absent amongst our fellow Hispanics. This general lack of passion suggests that a boiling point has not been reached. Hence, to expect an out-pouring of angry or concerned Latino citizenry at the polls is not in the cards.

This lack of cohesiveness readily explains President Obama’s tepid leadership on Latino issues. At times, the Democrats smack of a craven or pusillanimous approach. For instance, the Congressional Democrats, more specifically those in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, have been reluctant to challenge the President on his record deportations that have separated American born children from their parents and have occasionally caught US citizens in the ICE dragnet. As for the GOP, it manifests irrational derailment (crack up) or plain madness. An example of this is how many Republicans refuse to address the immigration problem humanely, while ratcheting up the heated rhetoric that many Latinos find offensive. Additionally, the Republican approach to Latin American foreign policy is irrational, as evidenced by the recent failure to confirm Ambassador Aponte and the continued linking of Hugo Chavez to Iran. Neither party appears to feel the need to cater or attend to our disturbing issues. It is as if our 50 million + population does not matter and may be satisfied with only a handful of swing states: Florida the biggest prize, which empowers the Cuban Americans out of proportion and the smaller states like New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada give the Hispanics some electoral heft. Overall, the Latino vote in electoral terms is largely viewed as those reduced groups of prosperous or “assimilated” Hispanics.

Leadership is another conundrum. Who and where are the leaders the community sees as following them into a foxhole in the endeavor to improve the general welfare? The current GOP primary debate is at best disquieting. It feels like Latino immigrants are readily tossed together with terrorists, Islamic extremists, drug cartel minions, and folks who are stealing America’s jobs. Being the national scapegoats begins to describe us in these difficult times. Yet, we can publish success stories of our 100 most influential Latinos because they are real. But is this the real pulse of our overall condition? We certainly should extol and applaud our achievements but never forget our less fortunate.

Perhaps 2012 will be the beginning of a more complete discussion of the Latino community. It is indeed merited in the 2012 electoral discourse. However, if one waits for our current national political leadership or presidential pretenders to address the Latino agenda, the betting is it is going to be plainly unsatisfactory. The new year could still bring a dramatic change in the effect Latinos have on the national scene. The most probable scenario for the Latino community is that if they do turn out in historic numbers is: they will be divided….neither party will be able to claim  with certainty that the Latino vote is wholly theirs. If that is the case then Latinos could be up for grabs every national election thus becoming a significant swing vote.

Tags: Congressional Hispanic Caucus · Democratic Party · Foreign Policy · GOP · Immigration · Latin American Foreign Policy · Prison · Republican Party · Seneca

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 ReyFeo // Dec 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Two comments:

    – My theory is the Latino Leaders of today (Dem Caucus and or any others in the very liberal communities) aren’t going to stick their heads out and do a thing while Obama is still President…for once, this POTUS is a far bigger threat to their existence/philosophies/political views etc (ala high deportations of non-legal immigrants as one example) then the far right presidents “who want to be” currently in Iowa. It’s no new ‘news’ to this website, I’m pretty conservative and so my question to you and the others here is “why aren’t you calling them out?!? (I mean the Latino Leaders you speak of in your post)”
    – I think your assessment of the split Latino vote is accurate, but have you ever wondered why? My theory here is you have two large splits: One is the 2nd, 3rd (maybe even 1st) generation “American” citizen Latinos, who now recognize “American” values being different from cultural make-up and the second being the illegal-immigrant(s) communities and their very supportive(maybe even liberal?) caucus’ (ala Califa’s, Illinois and maybe even Oregon. Florida, Texas no so much). OR AT LEAST it seems that way, again, simply my theory. I used to believe we were divided amongst cultural make-up (Cubans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, etc), but more and more I’m realizing (or seeing that) the “Latino” vote is more split among those who want to hold true to American values (not trying to insult anyone, just making a point about division) hence the swing votes you see in recent elections and those who see “Latino” as a definition catch-all for “all of us” legal and non-legal and the need to keep us a single voting block or at least thinking that’s what we need to do…again, where are our leaders on this? Split. And rightfully so, I wouldn’t support La Raza, MALDEF and or most liberal policies endeavors etc…simply put they don’t speak for me.

  • 2 DCogs // Dec 30, 2011 at 11:46 am

    The issues you raise in the first paragraph are problems all Americans need to address. If there is any “collective” argument that should be discussed it needs to be in regards to mentoring.

    For whatever reason, we have a generation of immigrants that feel entitled to the American Dream. This entitlement hasn’t always been there but, I have experienced the shift in expectations and the victim-hood mentality.

    The immigrants of the early 1900’s were focused on the benefits of freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Whereas the immigrants of the last 40 or 50 years have a collective mentality of “we’re going to live, act & behave like we did in our home land”.

    While I admire people that are willing to risk their life & livelihood to make their lives better, I have very little regard for people that game the system. Our social safety net is there to help people that can’t help themselves. It is not there to take care of people that continue, let me state that again, CONTINUE, to make bad decisions.

    The problem I see (IMHO with heavy generalization) is that the current generation of immigrants (legal & those seeking to be legal) are teaching their family and friends that their problems are directly tied to the Government not giving them enough money.

    It is important for all races & ethnicities to teach and mentor young people that, in America, you can be anything you want to be. All it takes is desire, discipline & dedication to be what you want. The flip side to that is, if you choose to do nothing, then you’ll suffer the consequences of your decision.

  • 3 India Blanca // Dec 30, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Once again Seneca enlightens us with his keen insight. 2012 must be the year that “We” awaken to the opportunity of making our voice heard. Unfortunately, as Seneca points out we have no real leadership to guide us and push forth so politicians actually deliver. Perhaps we should draft Seneca to represent us, the clarity of his/her message is tragically absent from the national
    discourse. Though we do not nor should we have to be a politically monolithic group; we must identify the issues inherent to the improvement of our commonality and stand solidly behind them.
    When we dont define ourselves publicly we allow others, some of whom find us inferior, to define us.

  • 4 Anna // Dec 31, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    The immigrants of the early 1900?s were focused on the benefits of freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Whereas the immigrants of the last 40 or 50 years have a collective mentality of “we’re going to live, act & behave like we did in our home land”.

    What total nonsense. European immigrants brought their culture here with them. For hundreds of years German-Americans sent their kids to German language schools and lived in small towns in the east and midwest where German was the predominant language. It only stopped when the tide turned against Germans in WWI.

    And who do you think the New Deal, the biggest governemnt program in history, was created to help? White people. Once Johnson wanted to include minorities through the Great Society, whites decided that they hated the government and that everything needed to be cut. Yeah, only after they got theirs.

    And I don’t know why you think that immigrants are receiving so much money from the government. More nonsense. Mexican immigrants would not be picking crops for little pay in 105 degree heat if they were receiving money from the government.

    The only immigrants who receive massive governent subsidies are the Cubans. Under the Cuban Adjustment Act as soon as a Cuban washes up on the shore he automatically receives political asylum and citizenship, so no “waiting in line” for him. They also automatically get social security payments without ever contributing anything to the social security fund, and they also automatically receive welfare. And under the bogus “Latino” category they created with Richard Nixon, they get Affirmative Action in government contracting even though many of them are white with no history of oppression in this country.

    But they vote Republican so it’s OK.

  • 5 irma // Jan 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm


    Once again, you put your distorted generalizations about Latinos out for everyone to see – so painful to read.

    “The problem I see (IMHO with heavy generalization) is that the current generation of immigrants (legal & those seeking to be legal) are teaching their family and friends that their problems are directly tied to the Government not giving them enough money.’

    Humbug! My grandparents came to the US in the early 1900s, my father in the late 1940s. No one and I repeat no one in my family has ever been on welfare. Instead, we WORKED in the fields at first, then building our own businesses or those of other Americans. BTW, most immigrants especially the undocumented ones prefer to hide in the shadows for fear of being deported.

  • 6 Americana // Jul 18, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Well said, Anna, well said. The facts of reality support what you wrote, and many cannot handle the truth.

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