Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ethnicity at the Polls: What Latinos Think About

Now that the great eye of our 2008 campaign has settled (temporarily) on trying to figure out the Latino vote, I have a few thoughts I would like to share.

When I am voting for a candidate, I consider a number of issues:

1. Immigration - because it is my research project and I think it's interesting.

2. The DREAM act, because I know lots of DREAMERS and I think they are awesome.

3. Social Security- because my parents, aunts and uncles are on social security and get Medicare benefits (they are U.S. born, except my Dad, and the men are all WWII Veterans).

4. The Iraq War - This may sound selfish but I have a son in his early 30s and a daughter that is 26. I don't want a silly war based on mis-information force them to join the military. Plus, I attended a number of funerals during the Vietnam War and I'm traumatized.

5. International Relations and Diplomacy - this is self explanatory - I don't think this
destroy and take over attitude is good for us.

6. The Environment - because my husband developed asthma when we moved to Houston (this is one of many environmental concerns).

7. The one thing I will not list regarding my voting preference is my ethnicity. I am not saying that the U.S. has "gone past" identity politics. I just want to re-assure all you pollsters and campaign managers out there that Latinos have other things to think about besides their ethnicity.

8. The Economy - will gas hit $5.00 a gallon? Will my neighbors and family members keep their jobs?

Before I am raked over the coals for statement number 7, I must say that I am centered in my identity just as much as a Jewish person could be in theirs, or a WASP could be in his/hers. But I'm telling
you not worry so much about my identity and how to figure it out. Our vote will depend on what specifically affects us as people not that we belong to a certain ethnic or racial group.

We (Latinos) worry about most of the same things that you do, except you generally don't notice. We are pragmatic, you help out some of us we are grateful (i.e. Rick Noriega who helped with the DREAM Act in Texas) and will respond in kind.

The fact that we eat tacos and see our grandmothers more twice a year, means that we have certain cultural traditions that are not necessarily in the mainstream. But we are still Americans - and our blood is red just like yours -and believe it or not, this is what is mostly on our minds when we vote.

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