Tequila Party Makes Four

Immigration Reform National Politics


New Orleans Discussion of an independent party or a party caucus focusing on Latinos and modeled on the success of the Tea Party has now lept into public view. A story on debates within the community about a possible “Tequila Party” was reported in a piece by Delen Goldberg in the Las Vegas Sun over the weekend. [“No Label” Party, “Tequila Party,” who is coming up with these names, but that’s a question for another day.]

The trigger point in this discussion is not surprisingly the disappointment over the likely failure of any real effort at immigration reform. It is also not surprising to see this story start to breakout in Nevada in the wake of the critical importance of the role played by Latino voters in Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s re-election.

“I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but there’s talk,” said Fernando Romero, president of the nonpartisan Hispanics in Politics, Nevada’s oldest Hispanic political group. “There’s discussion about empowerment of the Latino vote.”

Add the fact that Latinos accounted for 15% of the total electorate in 2008 and despite the decreased participation in general in the 2010 midterms, have now seen their percentage of the vote edge up to 16%, and this would be a serious political movement if it developed.

Latinos in Nevada are watching the schizophrenic politics of a Latino running for governor as a Republican, yet embracing the anti-immigrant Arizona measure. Latino Dems are just disillusioned and weighing the coming legislative moves in Congress.

“There’s a feeling that Democrats aren’t listening,” said Louis DeSipio, a Chicano studies and political science professor at the University of California, Irvine.

Congress’ actions over the next month could decide the fate of the burgeoning Tequila Party. If comprehensive immigration reform is shelved again, some Hispanics will likely decide to strike out on their own.

“It would definitely induce us,” Romero said. “We would have to do something at that point to get ready for 2012.”

Interestingly many voices in the debate are calling attention to a piece that Carlos Munoz, the emeritus University of California professor, wrote commemorating what would have been the 40th anniversary of the Raza Unida Party in Texas and its heyday in Cristal City. Munoz ended his piece with an important, and perhaps controversial, call to create a broader, independent and progressive party in the United States.

“The story of the La Raza Unida Party teaches us that independent political parties based on racial or ethnic identity will not work. An independent mass political party that can represent the needs of our more complex diverse society must emerge to challenge the two-party dictatorship. Such a party could lead to an authentic multiracial, multiethnic and multicultural democracy for the twenty-first century.”

With all of the discussion and the various individual initiatives been shown, Munoz’s call for a broader party resonates, but still seems to be falling on deaf ears.

If these discussions continue to build, that may not last, and then we will really have something serious on our hands offering real alternatives for progressive politics.