The strength of the Latino vote

Latino voters will determine the fate of key elections

The political stage has been tarnished, and the politicians greased up by the yearlong mudslinging. Mean words have been exchanged. Feelings were hurt. Losers will go home crying. This is better than ESPN — this is politics at its dirtiest. Incumbent Democratic Senator Harry Reid will face off against the menacing newcomer Republican and Tea Partier Sharron Angle in the upcoming Nevada Senate race.

When Angle plays, she goes to the extreme. Angle plans to abolish the Department of Education, to instate an inmate rehabilitation program supported by the Church of Scientology, and to stop insuring autism patients. Despite her extremist views, her campaign has been catapulted into national spotlight since her win in the Republican primaries. All the while, Reid is sweating in his gym shorts.

But there’s hope, Harry. This year, there is a wild-card: Latino voters.

The Latino population in United States has grown to nearly 50 million. Their constituency will account for a large voting bloc in the coming election. Their numbers can effectively tip the race in any one party’s direction in states like Florida, Arizona, Nevada, and especially New Mexico (nearly 40 percent of all eligible voters in the state). Back in Obama’s 2008 election, over 9.7 million Latinos voted — this is a jump from 7.5 million back in 2004. By 2050, the Latino population is predicted to more than double in number, and the number of their votes will follow. The Latino community has established their presence in this election, and they will continue on to become a powerhouse.

So whom will they vote for? It’s uncertain.

Democrats have consistently disappointed their consistently loyal Latino voters on immigration reforms. Republicans, of course, do not help by filibustering the reform bills, but Democrats have shied away from the losses too many times. Reid’s Dream Act to grant amnesty to illegal college-bound and service-bound minors remains just a dream. Latinos are growing indifferent to the Democrats’ call for help.

Consequently, Republicans are drawing in Latino voters because both the party’s voting records and its representatives’ skin color resemble theirs. Florida’s Marco Rubio, California’s Abel Maldonado, Idaho’s Raul Labrador, Nevada’s Brian Sandoval and New Mexico’s Susana Martinez and John Sanchez are all Latino Republicans. What’s different about them? Nothing, they’re still just as unapologetically conservative. But Latinos are now more comfortable than ever to cross over to the Republican Party. Many share the same views on abortion and the definition of family with rank-and-file Republicans. What holds Latinos back is the rise in the anti-immigrant rhetoric used among the party members. The Republican agenda also includes extending Arizona’s alien-deportation laws into other bordering states. Because of this inherent racism within the party, many Latino voters find themselves lost as to whom to vote for.

And now some guy is telling them to not vote?

Latinos4reform recently aired an ad telling Latinos: “Don’t vote, that is our only alternative to be taken seriously. This November we can send a message to all politicians: if they didn’t keep their promise on immigration reform, then they can’t count on our vote.”

Latinos4reform is organization initiated by conservative Republican Robert DePosada. This message is meant to curb the advantages Latinos are giving to the Democratic Party. But politics aside, this message is foul play. Many Latinos are citizens. And citizens should enjoy their right to vote. Through propaganda, conservatives are manipulating Latinos into throwing away their American privileges. Latinos should not be treated like second-class citizens. Moreover, they should not treated like a political football in a muddied arena.

No matter whom Latinos vote for, all Latinos should vote and start throwing their weight around.

Until then, it will never be a fair game.