Culture

Politicians Need To Stop Assuming That The Latino Vote Is A Monolith Because It Is Not The Truth

In the days after the image of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, 25, and his 23-month-old daughter, Angie Valeria, facedown in the Rio Grande made its way around the internet, a friend posted the photo to her story on Instagram. Her caption was of horror and sadness towards the situation. She texted me a screenshot of one of the direct messages she received in response to her post. It read “bad parenting.”

What image did your mind conjure up of what the messenger looks like? 

If you thought it was someone who looks like Trump, or any of his family members, you would be wrong.

The person who sent her this message is an immigrant to the U.S. He was born in a Latin American country to Spanish speaking parents and falls into a group many presidential candidates, especially Democrats, as they build their coalition of voters. He is millennial and Latino. He also illustrates the danger of lumping Latinos into one monolithic category—Latinos do not think the same, nor do they want the same things. 

Let’s get one thing out of the way: defining the difference between Latino and Hispanic. Someone identifying as Latino is of Latin American origin or descent. If they’re Hispanic, it means their roots are in Spain or a Spanish-speaking country. In simplified terms someone from Spain is Hispanic, they are not Latino, and a person from Brazil is Latino but not Hispanic. The two terms are often used interchangeably when talking about people south of the American border, or who speak Spanish but that is incorrect.

We’re a large and diverse group. The majority of Hispanic and Latino Americans prefer to identify with their families’ country of origin, only 24 percent prefer to self-identify as Hispanic or Latino. Which means most people are likely to answer “Mexican, Colombia, Cuban, Ecuadorian or Puerto Rican,” when asked what they are because it’s a better representation of their culture and heritage. According to a Pew Study, Hispanics in the U.S. are comprised mostly of Mexicans (35.3 million) but also includes 5.3 million Puerto Ricans and five other Hispanic origin groups with more than 1 million people each: Salvadorans, Cubans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, and Colombians.

Within the group, there are regional, cultural and ethnic differences. Using the term is the same as labeling someone as American, then realizing the moniker means different things when it’s applied to a Chinese-American from the Bay area in San Francisco, versus an Irish-American on Chicago’s South Side. It reduces the complexity of people to nothing.

projected 32 million Hispanics will be eligible to vote in 2020. This important voting bloc has a lot of potential to sway the political stage. However, to assume this group is a shoo-in for Democratic support is a mistake. Foreign-born, Hispanics are typically conservative. Those born in the U.S. describe themselves as liberalLatinos have a misogyny problem. Generally speaking, older Latinos most align with the Republican party. And naturalized citizens, turn out to vote at a higher rate

Even though Ted Cruz and his Republican party are against protection for Dreamers, support a border wall and want to do away with the Affordable Care Act—which would largely impact Latinos—35 percent of Latino voters still backed Cuban-American Cruz instead of progressive Beto O’Rourke in the 2018 Texas Senate race.

If every Latino believed these policies were bad, it would be reflected in their vote. However, it’s important to remember people make decisions for a number of reasons that do not include factors based on identity. Half of border patrol agents are Latino, and a recent report finds they are motivated by money.

Politicians’ favorite way of reaching this target demo is by attempting to speak in Spanish without being prompted. This became one of the most talked about topics after the first night of the Democratic debates last week. O’Rourke was the first to use the language with a tailored pitch that avoided answering the question on his stance towards a billionaire tax—never mind that the debate was being streamed and translated on NBC’s Spanish-sister channel Telemundo. Cory Booker followed his lead speaking in a nearly indecipherable language. Former San Antonio mayor and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro was the only Latino on stage. The only Spanish he spoke was to introduce himself and promise to “say adios to Donald Trump.”

In the days after the debate, Castro addressed critiques about his inability to speak Spanish fluently.

“Spanish was looked down upon,” he said in an interview with MSNBC. “You were punished in school if you spoke Spanish. You were not allowed to speak it. People, I think, internalized this oppression about it, and basically wanted their kids to first be able to speak English. And I think that in my family, like a lot of other families, that the residue of that, the impact of that is that there are many folks whose Spanish is not that great.”

Not every person of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Ecuadorian or Colombian descent is fluent in the language. There is a steady decline in Spanish spoken among Latinos in the U.S. There is no blanket approach to the language. Some people speak it, others don’t and another population uses a variation of Spanglish. Throw in various dialects, and language alone is enough to see how diverse Latinos can be.

But let’s not forget Puerto Rican voting rights and their lack of federal representation in government. While Puerto Ricans can vote in the presidential primaries, they are not permitted to vote in general federal elections. Only Puerto Ricans living on the mainland can participate in the general election—even though the island is a part of the U.S. and is affected by the elected policymakers. Elizabeth Warren and Julián Castro are the only two candidates who have made Puerto Rican rights a part of their policy platforms. Castro even made Puerto Rico the first stop on his presidential campaign. They might not speak Spanish but their actions show they have been fighting for those who do.

Presidential hopefuls beware: Latinos do not think the same way, and their voting record reflects this. The people who watch El Gordo y La Flaca are not the same ones described in the 2019 CNN article “The future of the American economy is Hispanic and female.”

The Latino vote can be a deciding factor in the 2020 race. However, just like any other voting bloc, different strategies and campaign tactics are required to reach this group. Latino voters will not support someone for something as basic as speaking Spanish, and it would be a mistake to assume the group is automatically won by the Democratic Party. The path to victory begins by admitting the road to mobilizing this demographic won’t be easy. 

READ: Republicans Have Made Voting In This Majority Latino Town In Kansas Nearly Impossible

As The Impeachment Trial Heats Up, Trump’s Defenders Start To Crack Under Pressure

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As The Impeachment Trial Heats Up, Trump’s Defenders Start To Crack Under Pressure

@themoteige / Twitter

On Dec. 18, just before Christmas, a gift arrived at the House of Congress, two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. After what seemed like an eternity of “will Trump ever be impeached?” the moment some Americans have been calling for finally came to fruition. Yet, the moment of justice against Trump was quickly fogged when Republicans began to attempt to derail the proceedings. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it perfectly clear that articles of impeachment presented from the House chamber to the Senate chamber would be dismissed because no Republican would ever vote to impeach Trump. Then something magical happened. People started talking.

Almost a month after the House voted to impeach President Donald Trump, Rep. Nancy Pelosi finally sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate floor on Jan. 15 to begin the impeachment trial.

Credit: @speakerPelosi / Twitter

It took a while for Rep. Pelosi to get those articles of impeachment to the Senate, but many believed she had a strategic plan. After all, Sen. Mitch McConnell said he wouldn’t allow any witnesses or hear any new evidence. So, Rep. Pelosi must have had a plan, right? 

“In an impeachment trial, every Senator takes an oath to ‘do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.’ Every Senator now faces a choice: to be loyal to the President or the Constitution,” Pelosi said in the letter, according to NPR. Rep. Pelosi also said she didn’t expect a fair trial. She proceeded, anyway. 

Democrats also announced they would have impeachment managers. Speaker of the House Pelosi named seven diverse lawmakers, including one Latina. 

Credit: @AlexNBCNews / Twitter

The seven lawmakers were picked because they have a legal background or expertise and also have served in Congress for decades. 

What’s remarkable about this diverse group of impeachment managers is that, as the New York Times notes, when President Bill Clinton had his impeachment trial in 1999, the impeachment managers back then were 13 white men. This time around, Trump is getting Rep. Adam B. Schiff, House Intelligence Committee chairman and lead manager, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, chair of the House Committee on House Administration, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Val Demings, member of the Intelligence and Judiciary committees, Rep. Jason Crow, member of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Sylvia Garcia, member of the House Judiciary Committee. 

On the same day that the trial got underway — and the managers were sworn in, along with Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the trial  — new revelations against Trump and others came roaring out of the TV.

Credit: @revsusanrussell / Twitter

If you’ve been keeping up with the impeachment process, you should know that Trump’s being impeached for asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s son for corruption. That’s what all of this is about, Trump asking for personal favors to get dirt against a politician who is seeking to run for office. Trump has said many times that request was not a favor. Now, at least one person involved in the Ukraine exchange of information is throwing Trump and many others under the bus. If you need a full refresher of the entire mess, click here

Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump’s lawyer Rudi Giuliani, told multiple journalists that Trump’s request to get dirt on Biden was known by all.

Credit: @cnnbrk / Twitter

“Because of my Ukrainian background and my contacts there, I became like Rudy’s assistant, his investigator,” he told the New Yorker. “I don’t do anything on my own. I don’t lobby people. I go get information. I set up a meeting. I make sure that the call went right. I make sure the translation is done right.”

“President Trump knew exactly what was going on,” he told Rachel Maddow, “He was aware of all my movements … I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president.”

Even people who once said they never met Parnas, including Rep. Devin Nunes, finally admitted to having known Parnas.

Credit: @jennyrachelpal / Twitter

Just last month, Rep. Nunes said he wasn’t sure who Parnas was and added that he would never speak to random people. However, like many people connected to the scandal, Nunes has now admitted that he has talked to Parnas. Rep. Nunes went on Fox News to say that he did look back at his records and realize he had talked with him. 

“I didn’t remember the name. But I did remember going back, looking at where I was at the time. Because you know you can do that now,” he said, according to CNN. “You actually know where you physically are. Checked it with my records, and it was very clear. I remember that call, which was very odd, random. Talking about random things. And I said, ‘Great, you know, just talk to my staff’ and boom, boom, boom. Which is normal, standard operating procedure.”

Seems like the impeachment trial is just heating up and more information is casting doubt on Trump and his most ardent defenders.

READ: Kellyanne Conway Is Convinced That Americans Think the Impeachment Process is a Sham

Florida Republicans Just Introduced Four Anti-LGBTQ Bills On The Last Day Possible And People Are Asking Why Now?

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Florida Republicans Just Introduced Four Anti-LGBTQ Bills On The Last Day Possible And People Are Asking Why Now?

Ben Wassenhatch / Flickr

Seven Republican lawmakers in Florida filed four anti-LGBTQ bills hours before the deadline for the upcoming legislative session this week. The bills undo many of the protections that exist for LGBTQ Florida residents. The four bills would repeal county and municipal ordinances for LGBTQ workers, legalize gay conversion therapy, and ban transgender healthcare for children, according to NBC News. 

The homophobic and transphobic legislation was introduced by representatives Anthony Sabatini, Bob Rommel, Michael Grant, and Byron Donalds, along with Senators Joe Gruters and Keith Perry. Florida Rep. Shevrin Jones, who is a member of the LGBTQ community, and other advocates are now fighting against the bills’ passing. 

Advocates respond to the bill calling it “discrimination and hate.”

“Clearly they’ve decided that discrimination and hate are central to their election-year platform despite our state’s incredible diversity,” Jones said in a statement. “Just as I’ve done since I was elected in 2012, I will continue to fight any legislation that marginalizes or threatens any Floridian’s shot at a secure, safe, and bright quality of life.”

Jones also accused Florida Republicans of, “wasting tax dollars attacking Florida’s most vulnerable communities rather than prioritizing the issues that impact everyday people’s lives.” 

Equality Florida released a statement highlighting many of the consequences such a bill would have. 

“This is the most overtly anti-LGBTQ agenda from the Florida Legislature in recent memory,” Jon Harris Maurer, the group’s public policy director, said. “It runs the gamut from openly hostile legislation that would arrest and imprison doctors for providing medically necessary care, to legislation that would carelessly erase critical local LGBTQ protections.”

Senator Gruters defends the bill, claiming it “includes protections.”

“The bill certainly does not authorize an employer to discriminate against employees who are members of protected classes, whether protected by federal or state law or local ordinance,” Gruters told NBC News via email.  “While I do not believe the bill has any impact on local anti-discrimination ordinances, in an abundance of caution, I included language in the bill’s preamble to make clear that the preemption would not affect local anti-discrimination laws, and any court would interpret the preemption consistent with that preamble.” 

While Gruters claims it would include protections, Joe Saunders, senior political director at Equality Florida, claims that these so-called protections are merely a part of the bill’s preamble and would carry no weight should the bills become law. 

“We appreciate that Sen. Gruters put that in,” Saunders said. “It’s not policy; it’s not considered part of the bill.”

Democratic senator Lori Berman suggested the bill was nothing more than a political stunt to garner votes from homophobic and transphobic constituents. 

“I’m disappointed to see some of my colleagues proposing this regressive and discriminatory anti-LGBT agenda,” Berman wrote on Twitter. “What benefit to the public does this legislation actually serve, apart from tossing red meat to a political base in an election season?” 

Trans children are particularly vulnerable to the policies. 

“Transgender youth are some of the most at risk in our community,” Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s director of transgender equality, told NBC News. “It is outrageous that conservative legislators would threaten their health and safety. Medical professionals, not politicians, should decide what medical care is in the best interest of a patient. Forcing a doctor to deny best practice medical care and deny support to transgender youth can be life-threatening.”

Making it illegal for doctors to provide necessary care to trans children certainly goes against the Hippocratic oath, but if you think something so dystopian can’t happen just look at how Republicans have slowly chipped away at abortion rights – another form of necessary care that can be life-saving. 

Just yesterday South Dakora Republican lawmakers introduced a bill that would also ban doctors from performing gender-affirming surgeries or treatments on children. Similar bills have been filed in Texas, Georgia, and Kentucky. 

According to the Associated Press, “The Endocrine Society, which is the leading professional organization for doctors who specialize in hormones, does not recommend gender-transition medical treatment before puberty for children who do not identify with their biological gender. For youths experiencing puberty and older adolescents, the Endocrine Society recommends that a team composed of expert medical professionals and mental health professionals manages treatment.”

Opponents of these anti-trans bills believe the laws interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and contradict the widely accepted practices of the medical community. 

“Sadly, the medical care of transgender youth has been sensationalized and politicized,” Jack Turban, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, told NBC News. “Gender-affirming medical care for transgender adolescents is endorsed by major medical organizations, including the Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. It should go without saying, but providing standard medical care should not be a felony.”