Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Hispanics and the 2012 Elections

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Hispanics and the 2012 Elections

Article excerpt

I won't tell you when it began for me, but as far back as ? can remember, every single presidential election 1 have survived has been labeled "the most important one in our nation's history." Or earth-shaking words to that effect. It was somewhat scary at times, hut the passage of time has provided perspective.

This year. 2012, is no different. The pundits are at it again. Whal witJi the Mayan calendar ending and all that, next month's election has shaped up to be a cbff- hanging toss-up. Both sides have been campaigning furiously. One needs more than a scorecard to keep track of the charges and countercharges.

Who will capture the hearts and votes of the American people? Will Armageddon really surface if one side wins, and will the American way of life end if the oilier side wins? Will history's best chance for freedom and democracy vanish? Or will we become, as some derisively claim, just like Europe?

I don't know, but I do think the November elections will he a watershed in American history. I believe Hispanics have gained and benefited from increased attention. They are bound to benefit regardless of who is elected to the White House, to Congress and in state capitals across the land.

The only way Hispanic Americans can lose this year is if they do not vote in large numbers, if they become apathetic.

They" have certainly been courted by both parties, passionately and consistently. I am not going to mouth that old canard, "the decade of the Hispanics." I never believed it in the 1970s nor since then. Not until now.

Frankly, it might not really be that important who they vote for. (Please don't bury me with e-mails, ) What is important is that they vote in such large numbers that they become established as a political force that will continue to grow. This is the year to establish their claim and build a foundation to influence the future.

In the 2008 election, Hispanics turned out in force - 97 million Hispanics voted. Those numbers are projected to grow to 11.8 million or maybe 12.2 million in 2012. Hispanics exist in significant numbers in key presidential battlegrounds states.

Presidential Outreach

Last May, President Barack Obama spoke to Hispanic voters in til Paso, Texas, and delivered a highly partisan speech on immigration reform in which he chastised Ms political opponents and their views of border security.

Later the president reached out to the Hispanic community at a gathering organized by the National Council of La Raza, where he again attempted to use die issue of immigration as a wedge issue, casting conservatives as being anti-immigration for their opposition to illegal immigration.

And in June this year, he surprised many by announcing that those brought here as children would no longer be deported. It wasn't exactly a pathway to citizenship, bin it was a step along [he way.

The president's effort to appeal to Hispanics is not surprising, given how that population has suffered under his economic policies. He needs their support, and he has not been very proactive until recently.

Clearly, he sees there is work to be done in order to firm up his base. From 2005 to 2009, median household wealth among Hispanics fell by 66 percent, compared with a drop of 53 percent among Blacks and ?? percent among non-Hispanic Whites. Pointedly, the unemployment rate among Hispanics in March was 10.3 percent, compared to 8.2 percent among the broader population.

Further, between 2006 and 2010, the poverty rate among Hispanics increased more than that of any other group, from 20.6 percent to 26.6 percent, all according to the respected Pew Hispanic Center.

This has not been lost upon Hispanics, who know that the economic downturn has been harder on diem than on other groups in America. It's not surprising that Hispanics rank employment, noi immigration, as the number one issue in the 2012 election. Additionally, 56 percent are dissatisfied with the direction in which the country seems to he headed. …

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