The Wrath of Latino Voters
You can threaten to deport some of our relatives or to limit our use of the Spanish language or to deny our youths college educations or even to deny citizenship to some of our U.S.-born children, and we might let you get away with it — especially if our so-called friends in the Democratic Party need to be taught a lesson for breaking so many promises.
But if you buy TV time to sell yourself as a fear-mongering racist, that's where Latino voters draw the line.
That's the lesson we immediately can learn from the way Latinos voted in Tuesday's midterm elections. We don't act. We react! And it takes a lot of abuse for us to do so. But when we finally do, it's with a vengeance!
That's the reason the overwhelming majority of Latinos voted to re-elect Sen. Harry Reid in Nevada. Many weren't really voting for the Senate majority leader, who has failed them in many ways. They were voting against his Republican challenger, Sharron Angle, who has offended them in many ways.
It was all about payback!
Just a few weeks ago, many Nevada Latinos were expressing disappointment with Reid, whom many considered one of those Democrats who needed to be punished for failing to deliver comprehensive immigration reform when he controlled a supermajority in the Senate.
But then the Republicans selected Angle, a tea party demagogue who would say or do anything to get elected, and when she proceeded to mount one of the most vicious anti-Hispanic campaigns in U.S. history, Reid won the Latino vote by default — and it gave him the margin of victory on Election Day.
After apparently giving up on expectations to win any significant support from Latino voters several weeks ago, the Angle campaign went nuclear against Latinos.
In a series of attack ads designed to portray Reid as "the best friend an illegal alien ever had," Angle used images of menacing brown-skinned actors crawling through fences to depict "illegals sneaking across our border, putting Americans' safety and jobs at risk." She used images of actors portraying Latino gang members and juxtaposed them with images of threatened white families "struggling with the nation's highest unemployment."
Lesson learned from Tuesday's elections: Only the wrath of Latino voters — when they no longer can withstand racist aggression — can set back some of these race-baiting politicians.
You would have to go back several decades to encounter the kind of outright racism and xenophobia-based politics that, unfortunately, enjoyed a revival in many midterm election races this year.
But clearly, Sharron Angle was the champ. She even won a "Baity," Salon's award for one of "the most egregiously race-baiting campaign ads of the year."
Clearly, Angle felt she had more to gain by appealing to Latino haters. And it backfired — big-time! Her racist TV spots — combined with a dirty Republican campaign to discourage Latino Democrats from voting — actually drove even more Latinos to the polls! Early exit polls showed that Hispanic voter participation in the Nevada senatorial race probably exceeded that state's Latino turnout in 2008.
A few weeks ago, no one could have predicted this. In a state with the nation's worst unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates, even many Latinos were ready to vote for any other reasonable alternative, especially because Reid also failed to deliver on immigration.
But Angle was not a viable alternative — certainly not for the people she scapegoated to try to get elected.
To find out more about Miguel Perez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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