Latina Women Trumping White Men as Keys to the Future

gty_latino_vote_obama_nt_110901_wblogLittle Rock   Professor Christina Bejarano, a Texan now teaching at the University of Kansas, was on the program at the Clinton School of Public Service giving a brief talk on the “Latino Gender Gap in U.S. Politics,” so I popped in for a minute to see what insights she might offer.  The bottom line in her presentation was simple and sweet:  Latina women may be the swing voters to capture in the contest to win Hispanic voters by both parties.

            Why?  Well, her research shows that Latinas vote 10% more frequently that the men, are more likely to be citizens, are more likely to care about local issues rather than events in the home country, are more likely to push their men to become citizens, and are not planning on leaving the United States, but deepening roots and staying here.  Part of the reason she argued is that greater activity in the home and community has tended to “socialize” Latina women more thoroughly, leading to these kinds of results.  Of 23 million Hispanic registered voters, this gives Latina women a huge potential voice, and, importantly, it’s the women who are both more progressive according to surveys and focus groups and more likely to be Democratic voters. Additionally, she mentioned that there are now several important PACs forming with interests in Latinas and Texas like Poder Pac and Latina Lists, and there might be something big beginning to happen here.

            Couple these comments with Charles Blow’s column in the New York Time about the weird positioning of the Republican Party around their diminishing base of white men, and it’s not hard to see which star is rising and which one is falling.  Exit polls he cited show that the high water mark for Republican man love was the 11% advantage that George W. Bush enjoyed in beating Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004, while Obama won men by 1% in 2008 and lost them by 7% in 2012.  

            Citing the litany of Republican politicians’ feet being inserted either in their own mouths or in women’s south sides time after time, Blow says that, “The Republican Party is in danger of becoming a man cave of cavemen and the women who can abide them.” 

            I think they may have already crossed the red line there.  Listening to an interview on KABF of potential candidates running in what is now a Republican seat in the 2nd District, once known for Democratic Ways of Means old lion, Wilbur Mills, and now Republican, a leading woman Republican and staunchly conservative candidate, was tellingly caught and conflicted on some of these issues, arguing for voter IDs in Arkansas, not because there was voter fraud, but because she remembered problems as a younger woman acting as a poll watcher when men would try, and sometimes get away, with voting for their wives, and on choice explaining her position as having been pro-choice as a younger woman, but then becoming anti-abortion after motherhood.   Maybe you can run and win in Arkansas debating those differences and distinctions, but that kind of schizophrenia is politics is poison, and the Republican men leading their party seemed to be grabbing for that pill box.

            Where does our hope for the future go?  Viva, Latinas!

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Solid Resolutions for the New Year

Charles Blow
Charles Blow

Ocean Springs         Sometimes it can be embarrassing to live in Louisiana.   When it’s not the governor making a fool of us in service to ego and ambition or one of the Senators currying to prostitutes and another always turning tricks for oil companies, it’s someone like Phil Robertson, the duck man, leading the hater brigade and forcing the A&E channel to admit that it’s really not about principles, but it’s all about the money.   All of which makes it refreshing for me to read the op-ed Times’ columnist and Louisiana native, Charles Blow, prove regularly that one can come out of Louisiana with both a head and a heart.

Blow at year’s end reminisced about growing up poor in rural Louisiana and celebrating New Year’s with black-eyed peas for good luck and greens for good fortune, but he also shared his resolutions which are worth all of us heeding:

1. To stop treating politicians like sports stars, political parties like teams and our national debate like sport.

Politics is not a game. There are real lives hanging in the balance of the decisions made — or not made — by those in power. Often, those with the most to lose as a result of a poor policy move are the most vulnerable and most marginalized. Those folks need a voice, and I will endeavor to be that voice.

2. To force politicians to remember, with as much force and fervor as my pen can muster, that they are servants, not rulers.

A democracy is a government by the people, for the people. Politicians too often bend in the presence of power. They believe that it is they who possess power, rather than the people who elected them. And power and money are kissing cousins; you will rarely find one not cozied up to the other. Money is corruptive, and power addictive. Together they work against the greater good. That cannot stand.

3. To remember that justice is a natural aching of human morality.

In the core of most people is an overwhelming desire to see others treated fairly and dealt with honestly. That is not a party-line impulse but a universal one. I will do my best to highlight that basic quality. For instance, I believe that there will come a time when we will all look back at the brouhaha over same-sex marriage in disbelief and disgrace, and ask: Why was that even a debate?

4. To focus more fully on the power and beauty of the human spirit.

Regardless of their politics, the vast majority of the people I meet, when they can speak and listen and act of their own accord and not in concert with a group, are good, decent and caring people. Most work hard or want to. They love their families and like their neighbors. They will give until it hurts. They fall down, but they bounce back. They are just real people, struggling to get a bit and get by, and hoping to share a laugh and a hug with an honest heart or two along the way. That is no small observation and not one of little consequence. I believe that I can write more about those traits.

Those are my resolutions, ones I will strive to keep, ones I’ll reflect on even if I fall short. What are yours?

 

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