Remember the times when we went to the polls to vote for someone we believed in, instead of against a candidate we can't stand?
Ah! The good old days.
Before the complete polarization of our country, before we were divided between those who strongly dislike President Barack Obama and those who can't stand former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, we went to the polls because we were following a leader. Remember?
But given the tone of our political discourse, this year it seemed as if most of us were anxious to vote against Romney or Obama, rather than for either one of them. Instead of inspiration and motivation, it was fear, anger and revenge that drove many of us to the polls.
And we ended up selecting what we thought was the lesser of two evils.
For me, that was clearly Obama. Granted: The president has failed to keep some promises he made on issues that concern me as a Latino. Had the Republicans fielded a halfway reasonable nominee, I could have voted for him.
But considering the alternative — a candidate who got the GOP nomination by pandering to hatemongering immigrant bashers — there was no way I could vote for Romney.
For Latinos, the choice had never been easier. On one side we had an incumbent who vowed to help undocumented immigrants and failed, and on other side we had a candidate who vowed to drive them to self-deportation.
If compassion for immigrants was important to you as a voter, the Republicans didn't give you much of a choice, did they?
Republicans tell Latinos we should be worried only about the economy, as if they could select our issues for us, as if we could forget their war on the social issues that concern us — as if we didn't hear them proposing government cutbacks that would obviously ravage minority communities.
When all the votes are counted, the significant number will not be how many Latinos voted for Obama, but how few voted for Romney. He could set a record that could live in infamy — because he ran an infamous anti-immigrant campaign.
In 2008, Sen. John McCain vowed to support comprehensive immigration reform, but only after securing the border — and he got 31 percent of the Hispanic vote. In 2012, Romney vowed to oppose any form of amnesty for 11 million undocumented immigrants — even after securing the border!
Do the math! Although the Romney campaign had predicted it would get 38 percent of the Latino vote, he won't do better than McCain with Latinos. In fact, he is likely to do a lot worse.
In the next few days, as political scientists analyze the 2012 Latino vote, we'll know exactly how much Romney paid or benefitted from his anti-immigrant positions. We'll know whether it still will make sense in future elections to use immigrants has guinea pigs.
We'll know whether the xenophobic vote is really more powerful than the Latino vote.
"If we lose this election, there is only one explanation — demographics," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Politico on Monday. "If I hear anybody say it was because Romney wasn't conservative enough, I'm going to go nuts. We're not losing 95 percent of African-Americans and two-thirds of Hispanics and voters under 30 because we're not being hard-ass enough."
When he spoke to the Des Moines Register recently, Obama had similar thoughts: "Should I win a second term," he said, "a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community."
This will be the election that will determine whether presidential candidates can continue to align themselves with Arizona-style racial profiling state laws, and with anti-immigrant extremists like Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, conservative ideologue Kris Kobach, Rep. Steve King and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.
In the past few weeks, although all pundits agreed that Romney had to do something dramatic to appeal to Latinos, all he did was repeat his promise to come up with a "long-term" immigration solution.
As with most other issues, Romney's alleged plan for reforming immigration was so void of details that when he spoke of it, you felt he was insulting your intelligence. And that's how I felt about Romney when I heard him campaign on most issues.
How a presidential candidate could be so vague and superficial was beyond me. And how could so many people be willing to support him without really knowing what he would do? Since Romney has been on both sides of so many issues, which Romney would they be electing?
When I voted for Obama on Tuesday morning, I was really voting against Romney's half-truths, his constantly shifting positions, his falsehoods, his inconsistencies, his condescending demeanor. I was voting against the Romney's willingness to keep lying even after his lies were exposed, against his campaign's attitude that the truth is irrelevant, that his positions could be erased on an Etch A Sketch, that they were not going to let their campaign "be dictated by fact checkers."
If you were to draw a caricature of the ultimate slimy politician — the kind who would do or say anything to get elected — he would have to look like Romney. And so for me, the choice was between a disappointing president who still has the potential to impress me, and a complete phony.
Like most Latinos, I voted against Romney.
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.