Obama vs Romney Latino Vote: Conventions Showcase Latinos But Not Sincerely

“I am writing to express disappointment on behalf of the millions of Hispanics who do not have a voice in the upcoming presidential debates as evidenced by the selected moderators announced yesterday," wrote Randy Falco.

Falco, the CEO of Univision, the top Spanish-language television network, was expressing his anger at the fact that none of the news anchors chosen to moderate the presidential and vice presidential campaigns were Hispanic. In an election year in which the Hispanic vote is so important (as evidenced by the full-blown Hispanic bid at Thursday's RNC events), he argued, it is astounding that not one of the moderators chosen was representative to the Latino community. In fact, it is the first time in 16 years in which a journalist of color has not been selected to question the candidates. Hispanics eligible to vote in the upcoming election make up 8.7% of all voters. Even more important is that said 8.7% is concentrated mostly in swing states, such as New Mexico, Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and Colorado. “These 5 states alone,” mentions Falco “represent … 22 percent of all electoral votes needed to elect the next president of this country.” That is a huge percentage of votes.

Because the Hispanic community is such an important factor in this year’s elections, politicians are trying to get that community's attention in any way they can. That said, national Spanish-language voter phone banks target the section of the Hispanic that probably cannot yet vote. The parties use of token “Latino-looking” men as front runners for their national conventions to attract the Hispanic vote assumes that the Hispanic community is simple-minded enough to believe such an insulting tactic.

The Obama campaign held a phone bank on Thursday in Spanish in order to reinforce his popularity in the Hispanic community. However, phone banking in a different language assumes that the person on the receiving end of the phone call cannot speak English or cannot speak it well enough to understand a party platform. Any legalized immigrant must speak English relatively well enough to pass the citizenship exam and, therefore, vote. Which means, Barry’s team is targeting the wrong community. Oops!

On the other hand, Romney is having quite a bit of difficulty bringing over Hispanics from the Democratic Party. Instead of appealing to – oh, I don’t know – possible issues that the community might face, such as health care reform, higher education for their children, or even the stereotypical immigration problem, the Republican Party decided to allot more time to their already confirmed Hispanic Republicans. Like Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D-Calif.) so eloquently said, "you can't just trot out a brown face or a Spanish surname and expect people are going to vote for your party or your candidate.” The Republican Party, is not solely guilty for trying this tactic.  The Democratic Party will also be thrusting a  Latino face in the public arena as San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro is set to be their keynote speaker next week.

It really is a shame that politicians consider the Hispanic community to be so ignorant as to believe a Hispanic face in the crowd means that the candidate and their party will bring solutions to many of the problems that face American-born Hispanics and Hispanic immigrants alike. I encourage the Hispanic community to not fall for such silly tactics. By voting for either party just because of their political schemes, the Hispanic community simply becomes a pawn in the political game, merely a check mark to each of the campaigns.

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Sofia Scott

I'm a Sophomore double majoring in International Affairs and Latin American and Hemispheric Studies.

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