Fair. Balanced. American.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

How lucky are we, Part 2

Latinos are a critical voting block, but what most non-Hispanics in the media don't get is just how fragmented they are around national origin. So while Judge Sotomayor's potential elevation is a source of great satisfaction, it is unquestionably a far more so for stateside Puerto Ricans than, say, Cuban-Americans or Mexican-Americans.

Puerto Ricans are an important electoral block not because of their huge numbers in the Northeast but because there are enough of them in Florida to make a difference. This week, in two must reads, Andrew Gelman and Nate Silver of Columbia make persuasive (and opposite) cases regarding the electoral relevance of further GOP slides among Hispanics, and, more specifically, Mexican-Americans.

So what's remarkable about the latest GOP talking points is that they have chosen to attack Sonia Sotomayor over her membership not in some Puerto Rican organization but La Raza, a political organization primarily known for its Mexican-American roots. They have therefore managed to force media attention onto her ties to a separate subethnic group. In doing so, they have succeeded in making the nomination battle personal to Mexican-Americans, who now alone count for 9% of the country's population.

And even better, by calling La Raza the equivalent of the KKK, they have personally insulted the entire Hispanic community.

Every ethnic voter Democrats don't have to woo and mobilize means more cash and time for the rest of the electorate .

Establishment Republicans' fear of alienating Hispanics conflicts with their base's absolute hatred of them. That is why it is in Obama's interest to continue naming high profile Hispanics to key posts. Every attempt by Republicans to reject even lesser known appointments, will receive outsized attention in Latino media markets. That is the best kind of political advertising: it's free, and it's only noticed by the audience that needs to become outraged.

So let us thank Rush Limbaugh and Tom Tancredo and all the other wingnuts out there for making our future battles a tad easier. And let us thank the Pope for those high birthrates that will, in time, make this country a haven for equality of opportunity, choice and gay marriage.

Amen.

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