Latino Independent is Decider
Three years ago when I changed my party affiliation from Republican to Independent. I did not realize how many other Latinos were doing the same. For me I no longer saw a difference between both parties. Maybe it was my protest against a Republican Party that is broken, corrupt and weak. The Democrat Party was never an option it is broken also. They had turned too far left. So that only left one place. Independent.
[ In the history of the United States, ethnicity, religion, and immigration have played an important role in how political participation and party preferences are constituted. The new immigrants from Latin America are no exception. However, combining religious affiliation with political party preferences, it turns out that these recent immigrants cannot be put into neat camps of Republican and Democratic voters. The fact that most Latinos are Roman Catholic and place an emphasis on family values, does not mean that they are politically passive and therefore vote Republican. At the same time even though it is true that the Democratic party has a stronghold among Latino Catholics, there is a growing flock of former Roman Catholics converting to Catholic Charismatic or Protestant Evangelical Christianity, faith traditions that are usually identified with Republicans.
Another reason why linking political party preferences with the Latino vote is a tricky issue has to do with the multiple identities of Latinos. The label ‘Latino’ (as well as ‘Hispanic’), was mainly coined by the US society as an ethnic category; officially it was used for the first time as a census question in 1980. It does not take into consideration the huge variety that exists among Latin Americans in terms of nationalities, ethnicities, and religious affiliation. This variety of national backgrounds transcends, for historical reasons, party preferences. For example, Cubans, especially the generation that came to the US during the sixties and seventies, usually favor the Republican Party. In fact, some Cubans of that generation opted for a political career within the Republican Party, in order to appeal to their strongly anti-communist and accordingly anti-Castro base. This phenomenon, using parties to advance ethnic interests, can also be observed among other historic immigrant groups, such as the Irish, and the Polish. Cubans, are, however, only a tiny, even though a strong, minority in the political landscape of the US.]
Cuban Americans have moved right over the years because of the Elián González tragedy, happening during the Clinton administration. In 1996, the six year old boy who was caught in a custody battle between his father in Cuba and his relatives in Miami. He was finally returned to Cuba and his father. That incident strongly damaged the image of the Democratic Party among Cuban-Americans.
Overall, 24 percent of Roman Catholics identified with the Republican Party as did 34 percent of evangelicals and 42 percent of mainline Protestants. Sixty-one percent of those born and raised abroad identified as Catholics, whereas only 54 percent of those born and raised in the U.S. said they are Catholics. This shows that recent shifts away from Catholicism are likely to continue as Latinos spend more time in the U.S.
Catholics, evangelicals and mainline Protestants were more likely to vote than were those citing no religious denomination. So although 50 percent of the religiously unaffiliated identified with the Democratic Party, their voting practices mitigate any advantage they offer to that party.
So the Latino vote remains liquid floating in an ocean of uncertanty. That is why both parties will be paying close attentioin to the Latino voter. The fact that Latinos are leaving the Catholic religion makes the Democrat majority in Latino voters negledgeable.
At the same time more voters are registering Independent, the die hard far right and left couldn’t be further apart. Dialog is harsh, they talk right thru each other. Their seems to be no way those two camps will ever agree on anything. Some are making an effort to pool as many of the hard-liners to join forces but that is impossible. Neither ends of the spectrum will play ball with the other.
But all is not lost, that puts the power in the hands of the Latino Independent voter. The Independent unlike the partisans enjoys civil discourse. They are willing to agree to disagree they do not resort to name calling resulting in animosity and hatred. The only problem is that there is no Independent leadership. Independents are not organized and spread across the country.
The one thing for the foreseeable future is the Latino vote will be split and any hope of harnessing that power will depend on Independents. Latino unity will not happen now. You have too many pockets from different Tribes and some are not even talking. Hate-speech and censorship are the flavor of the day in some of the most high profile places. My optimism of the net bringing ideas together is seriously dashed. Now everyone is sitting in their own corners agreeing with each other and not open to contrary views For now it is probably 42% Dem. 30% Rep. 22% Independent and the rest clueless. The Republicans need a large chunk of that Independent vote to win in 08.