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Ruben Navarrette: Latinos have the right to support either party they want — though neither treats them well

From the commentary: From all the reporting I've done about the Latino vote over the past three decades, along with the experience I've had for nearly 40 years as a Latino voter, there are a handful of factors that determine whether Latinos — who tend to register Democratic by 2 to 1— are at least open to voting for a Republican.

Bonus cartoon 2 for Nov. 21, 2022
Cartoonist Dave Cagle draws on the poor selection of candidates in Election 2022.
Dave Cagle
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SAN DIEGO — As a result of our toxic politics, the United States is a country on edge. Too many Americans are easily triggered.

From the commentary: Cartoonist Dick Wright draws on Donald Trump's attacks on other Republicans.
From the commentary: The poor guy. Biden always sings the same song. He is convinced that he's doing all the right things, and he can't understand why he is not getting credit. So, he reasons, it must be because the messaging isn't working. The American people just don't know everything he's doing. Biden thinks his problem is communicating. It's not. It's competency.
From the commentary: Who says Republicans and Democrats can't cooperate? When it comes to offending Latinos, the parties inadvertently come to each other's aid by saying or doing something boneheaded just as the other is floundering.
From the commentary: Of course, it's not a coincidence. It's white supremacy. And, as we have now been reminded, it has found a home with liberals and conservatives alike.

Recently, I upset some liberal Democrats with a column noting that a substantial number of Latinos appear to be drifting away from the Democratic Party.

Irate readers demanded to know: Why would any Latino vote for a Republican?

One wrote: "I would like to know the real benefits of the Republican Party for Latinos."

Another chimed in: "I formerly admired your direct and independently minded journalistic approach but now I wonder if something snapped in Ruben's head. I hope you at least write or reply what is so good for Latinos that Republicans are providing."

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Another wrote: "Your article appears to sound like you are a Democrat. But you are a Republican which really amazes me since you are a Latino as I am. … Latino Republicans must like being hit on the head and then ask for more. That's stupidity."

These responses don't seem to have been born of curiosity. They sound like attacks and accusations. What's wrong with you people?

The word "stupidity" took me back to the 2012 presidential election. Back then, I was a CNN contributor, and I found myself at one point being interviewed by then-CNN host Ashleigh Banfield. We were discussing a column I'd written suggesting that Latinos could be so disappointed in former president Barack Obama's deportation juggernaut that they might vote for Mitt Romney. The host seemed offended.

"Latinos aren't stupid," Banfield protested.

When White people come at you like that, it reminds you that there must be a bunch of folks out there who got an "A" in social studies but flunked social skills. It also suggests that many liberal Democrats see Latinos as their own private property, and they get protective when they think someone is pilfering it.

Is this exodus really happening? In a word, yes. Just not to the degree that some loud voices in conservative media proclaim.

From all the reporting I've done about the Latino vote over the past three decades, along with the experience I've had for nearly 40 years as a Latino voter, there are a handful of factors that determine whether Latinos — who tend to register Democratic by 2 to 1— are at least open to voting for a Republican.

  • Age. Young Latinos are less likely to be loyal to the Democratic Party than their parents and grandparents are, and thus more willing to experiment with voting for the Republican Party.
  • Geography. Latinos in small towns, rural areas and red states are more likely to vote Republican than big-city urbanites in blue states, who tend to vote Democratic.
  • Time in the United States. I've found that recently naturalized immigrants have less loyalty to the Democratic Party than do Latinos who have been voting for Democrats for generations, so they're willing to vote Republican.
  • Country of origin. While Puerto Ricans and Dominicans tend to be Democrats, Cubans and Colombians are usually Republican. Mexicans and Mexican Americans, who according to the Pew Research Center account for nearly 60% of the nation's 62 million Latinos, are swing voters.
From the commentary:
From the commentary: Perhaps the ultimate point is that Pompeo’s attack on Weingarten and teachers must do just that. Pompeo’s demagogic words must bring together all the sane patriots who still call themselves Republicans. They must unite to condemn his message — and tell Americans we must work with our teachers to help them build the infrastructure that will be America’s ultimate bridge to tomorrow.
From the commentary: Ocasio-Cortez has a long record of pushing primary challenges to Democrats deemed insufficiently radical. These attempts are almost always unsuccessful though draining to the incumbent.
From the commentary: This fetish with identity started as a tic of the left, which tends to believe that voters want candidates who represent certain groups, as opposed to certain ideas. What it should have learned by now is that Republicans are perfectly capable of running their own candidates of color, witness their support in the Georgia senate race of the unintelligible Herschel Walker, a Black football player.
From the commentary: Still, as Biden quietly marked his 80th birthday on Nov. 13, the basic Democratic dilemma remained: Will it be best for the party — and the country — to renominate the nation’s oldest president, even if the alternative is chaos?
From the commentary: We have become hyphenated Americans with too many clinging to their native land in language and culture. No nation can be sustained in its character without controlling who is allowed to enter. Other nations have far more restrictive immigration laws and paths to citizenship than ours.
From the commentary: The question becomes: How much further can we keep expanding the number of domestic birds that are grown and slaughtered? How much longer can this vicious cycle continue before it explodes?
From the commentary: Americans want better results. They want a government that’s efficient and effective and improves their lives. They expect and deserve elected leaders who will fix the damn roads.
From the commentary: Those kinds of cross-party relationships don’t exist in today’s hyper-partisan world, so McCarthy will be pretty much flying solo.
From the commentary: It's a safe assumption that fear of crime is what flipped several suburban New York congressional districts to Republicans. The fears may not match the reality, but elected officials should not add fuel to them with careless talk. Kathy Hochul was lucky this time.

Fellow Latinos don't ask me for advice before voting. Sometimes they support people — in both parties — whom I find loathsome.

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For instance, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — who may soon be known in all the land as the Trump Slayer — is not my cup of tequila. In my book, DeSantis is a bully and a louse who used desperate Venezuelan refugees as a political prop, shipping them off on private jets C.O.D. to Martha's Vineyard to torment White liberals.

But a lot of Latinos in Florida like the governor mucho. According to an analysis of data from the Florida Division of Elections, conducted by the Miami Herald, DeSantis won about 65% of the vote in majority-Latino precincts in his reelection. In the overwhelmingly Latino Miami suburb of Hialeah, he took more than 78% of the vote.

I'm not part of this Latino flirtation with the GOP. I continue to be disgusted by both parties and largely unable to tell them apart.

But I get it. Democrats overpromise and underdeliver, and then they make you feel like there is something wrong with you when you demand more and try to hold them accountable. They think we Latinos owe them, when it's the other way around. They didn't vote for us in 16 consecutive presidential elections dating back to 1960.

Besides, Democrats have never learned that condescension is a more effective repellent than bug spray. I ought to know. That's what triggers me.

This commentary is Ruben Navarrette's opinion. He can be reached at ruben@wctrib.com.

© 2022, The Washington Post Writers Group

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