Tag: presidential race

Semi-free Speech

I try to avoid the whole WWJD game.

And I don’t apply this rule solely to Jesus. I also avoid asking what would Gandhi do, or Abraham Lincoln do, or Jimi Hendrix do.

The reason is that we can’t possibly know what these individuals would think of modern problems because they are so very, very dead. And whenever someone asks that question, the answer is inevitably, “Well, Jesus would agree with my exact political views, of course.”

However, I am going to break my personal rule by asking what would MLK think of last week’s Trump rally in Chicago, where fistfights erupted, some crazy old lady flashed a Nazi salute, and the frontrunner to be the Republican nominee for president cancelled his speech.

trump rally

As I understand it, Martin Luther King was in his fair share of tense situations. And yet I don’t recall hearing of a single time when he shouted down someone who disagreed with him, or reveled in acts of violence. He simply didn’t do that.

And yet, I see plenty of liberals out there who insist that we “won” in Chicago. What kind of odd reasoning is this?

Shutting down one bigot for one night is hardly a victory for tolerance and respect. Because “even the most ardent anti-Trump among us should lament that a political speech was canceled due to fears of violence.”

Yes, I know that Trump is loathsome and would happily take away your freedom of speech if he could. That’s not the point. The issue is that “no matter how right you think you are, you are never so clearly right, never so without fault, never so pure, that you have any moral authority to shut down the other side with violence.”

So preventing Trump from speaking in Chicago was not a bold cultural statement. It is also not going to change anyone’s vote in November.

All is did was make leftists feel good about themselves for a couple of hours.

Now, I understand the frustration. And I don’t know why apparently rational Americans are supporting a man who loudly proclaims his bigotry and misogyny.

Maybe it’s what the late, brilliant monologist Spaulding Gray believed, which is that there are times and places where malevolence just appears. As Gray said, there is “perhaps an invisible cloud of evil that circles the Earth and lands at random in places like Iran, Beirut, Germany, Cambodia… and America.”


Perception or Reality?

In the wake of last week’s horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, many U.S. presidential candidates are lining up to say how uber-tough, how mega-manly they are and how they would wipe out Isis in a weekend (three days tops) if given the role of commander in chief. It’s quite a display of fortitude.

Close up of man's arm showing biceps

Forgive me if I’m a bit incredulous.

But let’s leave questions about homicidal religious nuts and complex military strategies aside for now.

Instead, let me bring up a related topic, which is the GOP’s continuing image problem. And I’m not just talking about the Republicans’ struggles to connect with Latino voters.

You see, many Republicans come across as hostile to the poor, fearful of immigrants, and paranoid about the world. In addition, many conservatives are hypocrites about their ardent pro-life stance, in that they seem obsessed with fetuses but indifferent to children once they are actually born.

Fortunately, GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie has the solution to the Republican Party’s branding crisis. Christie doesn’t buy that he and his fellow conservatives are irrational, cold-hearted xenophobes who hate kids.

And that’s why he wants to prevent five-year-old Syrian war orphans from getting into this country and blowing us all up.

Hey, thanks for the perspective, Governor Christie.

The Difference

As we careen, cartwheel, and plummet into the finale of this interminable election season, one refrain we hear many times is that Republicans and Democrats are one and the same.

Indeed, there is ample evidence that both parties are indebted to big business and the status quo. And as Latinos know, Obama’s original immigration policies weren’t much of an improvement over Bush’s approach.

Still, there are differences between the two men running for president— besides the fact that one is a communist Kenyan and the other is a money-grubbing fascist (hey, that’s what the internet told me).


For those who have inexplicably not paid attention, Obama is pro-choice, while Romney is pro-life. Obama is against the death penalty, while Romney is fine with it. The president has come out in support of gay marriage, while Romney believes marriage is a straights-only deal. And Obama doesn’t share Romney’s opinion that the US government is inherently inept, corrupt, and/or evil.

I have to admit, those seem to be fairly large differences to me.

Even progressive icon Daniel Ellsberg, no fan of Obama, thinks the president is substantially different from Romney.

So who are the people yelling that Obama and Romney are clones? I mean, besides Lupe Fiasco?

Well, there are true believers who think a leftist or libertarian chief exec is a possibility (it’s not). Then there are self-proclaimed radicals who dismiss the entire American system as corrupt or bourgeois or just plain icky. And finally, there are voters who simply say, “It don’t matter none.” 

But of course it does matter. And for Latino voters, it’s crucial.

Hispanics are the least likely ethnic group to have health insurance, a situation that the infamous Obamacare may alleviate.

On immigration, Obama has endorsed the Dream Act (belatedly, of course), while Romney is still trying to explain how self-deportation would work.

And when it comes to economic policy, Romney’s tax cuts would benefit the upper classes, which are not exactly awash in Latinos. Keep in mind that according to some experts, Romney “cannot deliver all the tax cuts he promised to the wealthy without raising taxes on the middle class.” One can presume that Hispanics will not be among the direct beneficiaries of his tax plan.

However, perhaps some Latinos still believe that it doesn’t matter who wins. Well, think back to those distant days of 2000, when Bush was elected. At the time, many Americans voted for Nader because Gore and Bush were apparently too similar. Therefore, we have to assume that under President Gore, the September 11 attacks, the Great Recession, and FEMA’s horrific response to Hurricane Katrina would have all occurred. Those are rather huge assumptions, to say the least.

But the Iraq War, an obsession unique to neo-cons, certainly would not have happened. So for the families of 4,500 dead US soldiers, there was at least one fundamental, very real difference between the candidates.

By the way, approximately 500 of those soldiers were Latino.


Principle, Ploy, or Pandering?

Earlier this month, some polls implied that President Obama’s support among Latinos was so high that he was “close to maxing out” his lead over Mitt Romney. Think about that — Obama statistically could not get any more popular with Hispanics. The president might explode or something.

But then Obama went ahead and said that he supported gay marriage, and Republicans shouted that Latinos were so outraged that they were going to abandon the Democratic Party and vote for Romney, who of course, is semi-pseudo-quasi Mexican. The only problem with this GOP wishful thinking is that it is not based in reality.

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The Sting of Rejection

OK, the Democratic president who insisted, “Si, Se Puede” hasn’t kept his promise to make immigration reform a top priority. Furthermore, he has deported more Latinos than anybody in history, despite the fact that there are fewer undocumented people to arrest.

So getting the Hispanic vote should be easy for the GOP, which continues to insist that Latinos are Republican but don’t know it. In essence, conservatives say Latinos are voting against their own interests, which is ironic considering that Republicans depend on their rural white base to do exactly that.

There’s just one problem.

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Start Cramming Now

First, let me thank Evenshine for his/her thoughtful reply to my post “Dogma Vs. Cheese.” 

Second, let me give thanks in general that this election season is almost over.

One of the odder moments in this incessant campaign was when John McCain’s status as a real American became a question. I don’t mean that anyone doubted his patriotism or citizenship or anything like that. I’m referring to the skepticism expressed over whether his birthplace (a military base in the Panama Canal zone) fulfills the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that the president be a “natural-born citizen.”

It would indeed be a soul-crusher for Republicans if the guy pulls an upset in November, only to be ruled ineligible come Inauguration Day. Either scenario, by the way, is highly unlikely.

In any case, conservatives want to change the Constitution (that non-living document) by adding the “Schwarzenegger amendment,” so that any naturalized citizen can become president. But while they’re at it, they also want to amend the Constitution so that being born in America is not sufficient for citizenship.

The thinking here is that too many pregnant Hispanic women are dragging their huge bellies across the border, just so they can spit out a little nino or nina on U.S. soil. Doing so, of course, ensures American citizenship for their offspring.

I happen to agree with these proposed changes, especially amending the Constitution so that people born in America are not automatically made U.S. citizens. In fact, my compliant with this proposal is not that it is unfair or radical, but that it doesn’t go far enough.

So if we’re going to do this, let’s do it correctly:

Amend the Constitution so that no one can become a citizen until he/she passes a basic test. I mean nobody gets citizenship by virtue of where they’re born or their parents’ status. Everybody has to earn it.

This is where most conservatives pull back. They just want Diego and Maria denied rights because their parents don’t speak English. They certainly aren’t talking about limiting the status of their own ninth-generation offspring.

It’s not just selfishness. We have this mindset that people whose roots go back farther are better Americans. But individuals whose ancestors fought at Valley Forge are not inherently more patriotic than immigrants. In fact, I would argue that people who spend time, money, and effort to study our culture – then prove they know what they’re talking about – are more committed to, and knowledgeable about our nation than the millions of Americans who slept though high school history.

To be fair, I have a bias. Several members of my family have had to pass the test. I was born here, so I didn’t have to put myself on the line. But my mother, aunt, and several cousins have had to step up and say, “Hell yeah, I had to work for this.” And don’t we always appreciate things that we have earned more than gifts that are just handed to us?

And what’s so intimidating about a basic test, anyway? I’m not talking about forcing people to answer questions like “Explain U.S. monetary policy on a macroeconomic level.” The citizenship test, as I understand it, asks people things like “Why do some states have more representatives in Congress?” I find it difficult to believe that this is a harmful thing for citizens to know.

If we had informed citizens – people who really strived to be active members of this country – maybe America wouldn’t elect leaders based on how cute they are or, Lord help us, whether the majority wanted to have an imaginary beer with them.

An objection to this idea is the status of children. Are we to educate every child with the knowledge that come adulthood, many of them will be, at best, legal residents and never become citizens? Well, that’s hardly scary, because we do that now. Furthermore, I would argue for the intrinsic benefit of putting all kids on an even playing field – one where every child is a future potential president –rather than subdividing children into “natural-born citizens” and interlopers.

So what are the objections to this idea? Are they based on the principles of fairness and history, on the norms of our culture? Or perhaps we react negatively because of fear, the itchy suspicion that many of us have no idea what all those stars and stripes on the flag actually symbolize.

I Demand Pandering, and Right Now

First, let me offer belated thanks to Profe for commenting on my post “We’re Number Juan” and to Promethestherebel for his response to my post “Who Are You?”

Second, please remember that my pieces on the Huffington Post are also open to comments. In fact, despite the generous feedback I have received there, I have yet to see any truly deranged comments, so somebody out there is falling down on the job. Let’s get with it, people!

Speaking of Huffington, I want to address the odd linking that my post “Loving the Latino Voter” received there. Some organization named the Illinois Review excerpted the piece with the tagline “Liberal argues that Hispanics vote for whichever candidate panders to them the most.”

I’m not sure that was my argument, and the tone is definitely bitchy. But let’s look at that pandering charge anyway. It stems from my point that, so far, the Democratic platform has appealed to Hispanic voters more than the Republican platform has.

The Democrats’ approach, ergo, is pandering. How this is much different than candidates promising the moon and sun to Soccer Moms or Nascar Dads or blue-collar unionists or anti-tax small-business owners or NRA members or ACLU activists is beyond me.

The difference between pandering and “good campaign skills” looks to be negligible. Specifically, McCain reneging on his criticisms of the Religious Right is not pandering to Christian conservatives. Obama refraining from the smallest criticism of the Israeli government is not pandering to Jewish voters.

But addressing some issues that Latinos tend to value is pandering of the highest degree.

Now we’re all clear.

Sorry, but it seems that many people are uncomfortable with the fact that Hispanics (long the also-ran demographic of the voting population) are finally exercising some clout. This charge is especially prevalent among conservatives because they are – and there is no delicate way to put this – losing.

So if Democrats continue to win over Latinos, expect to see a lot more of that self-righteous j’accuse tone flying around. The fact, however, is that the attention Latinos are enjoying is no different from what majority-culture voters have demanded and received for decades. Indeed, Juan Carlos Lopez has argued that pandering to Hispanics is inevitable and long overdue.

So to my friends at the Illinois Review, I would say, “Yeah, Hispanics are indeed more likely to vote for the guy who panders to them the most… just like everybody else.”

Latino of the Month

Here at The Hispanic Fanatic, we are positively giddy. Actually, there is no “we,” just me, but it sounds more impressive if I make the following idea seem like the product of a select committee of experts.

The occasion is the inaugural Latino of the Month award. It’s the first one because, well, I’ve only been blogging for a month. With hope, I can identify one Hispanic in April and every four weeks thereafter who does something notable, laudatory, or even notorious to merit this prestigious honor.

So who is the charter recipient of this exclusive prize, which carries no monetary value, offers no plaque, and does not even have an award ceremony covered by the E Network?

It is none other than former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson.

I’ve always liked this guy, if for no other reason than he was the first legitimate Hispanic contender for president. He dropped out of the race early, of course, because his intelligence and experience can’t make up for the fact that he has all the warmth and charisma of day-old flan. Those superficialities aside, he would have made a good president.

He earns the Latino of the Month award because his endorsement of Barack Obama garnered national attention, shook up the presidential race, and pissed off a lot of people. That’s a lot of impact for one Hispanic to have.

It’s not about the specificity of his praise for Obama. It’s because, regardless of your political affiliation, one has to admire Richardson for his willingness to take a definitive and principled stance. I’ll also add that he refused to get embroiled in petty name-calling with people who accused him of being disloyal to the Clintons (statements that had the vague stench of white people getting pissed at a Latino for not doing what he was told).

No, he did his own thing. Didn’t I say he would make a good president?

But alas, he has to settle for the next-best thing: the first Latino of the Month award. So he has that going for him.

By the way, if you have any nominees for April’s award, let me know.

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