Vote Latino for Latino’s Sake!

Here we go again. You know, I really wish I had more positive stuff to write about, I really do, but these articles just keep surfacing and I find myself having trouble keeping my mouth shut. Came across this article in the sentinel about The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials having their 2007 gathering in Orlando, specifically at one of the Disney resorts. This definitely makes sense, as the article descibes, because Orlando is somewhat of a hub for Latino culture of all types, from Cubans and Puerto Ricans, to Mexicans and those hailing from South American countries. What irks me is some of the comments in the article that strike me as just fundamentally wrong. I say these things not as “some white boy”, so save me the ignorant comments of me being a racist (just so you know, “Latino” is not a race, those from Latin countries are Caucasian by definition, just the same as so called “white people”.) No, these observations stem from what I’ve been taught about judging a person by their merits, their actions, their character, not the deepness of their tan or where their parents were born.

The first statement that catches my eye is “The association advocates for more political representation of minority communities, wants to increase Latino voter participation, and backs renewal of the Voting Rights Act.” Is this to mean that more minorities should be elected merely because they are minorities? Hmm… that doesn’t make a lot of sense in terms of electing officials by a standard of qualities that would make them well suited for the job. Further, this also seems to indicate that this would be accomplished by getting more Latino’s out to the polls. Hmm… so we should expect that Latino’s should vote for Latino’s, that would be their worth to this group, basically getting people elected based on ethnicity by telling those with similar ethnicity to vote for them. Why not, oh, I don’t know, focus on why the heck you would do a good job?

Last time I checked the districts are drawn geographically and elected officials represent their constituents in that area REGARDLESS of race, creed, religion, and yes, geneological origins. Yeah, that concept may be hard to grasp because so often those lines get drawn purely for racial reasons, which is a whole different post altogether. So why aren’t you focusing on impressing EVERYONE in your district with how good a job you’ll do, not how Hispanic you are. Seems to me you are pretty much telling those in your district that are Latino that they are too dumb to make a decision based on anything other than, “Hey, that guy looks like me.”

This is not an isolated article either. The most blatant example of this I recall was with Tico Perez. Sorry Tico, you should have known better than to espouse your apparently racially motivated mindset to a reporter who works for a paper with a website. Once it’s out there, it lives forever. Second paragraph down, Mr. Perez decides it appropriate and all okay to say at a mayoral debate put on by the Tiger Bay Club (“old, white people who’ve run this city forever” club as the Weekly puts it) “This isn’t their city anymore.” This was said not on stage, but as an aside from the back of the room. So. rather than try to impress the voters of the city whose vote he needs and whom he would be serving as their mayor, he puts them at a direct adversarial position. I don’t know about anyone else, but it seems to me he does this merely because they are “old, white people”.

To me, this is racism. It’s belittling, petty and ignorant. How does society move past cultural divides, if the cultures keep dividing themselves up into their own little camps. Hey, instead of just trying to get Hispanics to vote for you and then claim you don’t get voted in because of “whitey” not letting their be enough Latino representation, why not make a concerted effort to impress your ENTIRE constituency with your merits, actions, and ideas. You might find when you run as a person of quality, not solely as a Latino, people, regardless of their cultural roots might vote for you. Simple concept. Give it a try just once will ya? Humor me.

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