More and more Hispanics or Latinos are coming to understand their unique placement in the flow of American history that at this moment calls on them to understand their growing responsibility for the fiscal fate of the country. Two groups within the HispanicLatino community know and feel the mounting obligation the best: College-educated professionals and veterans. Individuals holding college degrees most often are the ones who rise to play leadership roles within the community. But the vast numbers of HispanicLatino veterans – many of them having put their lives on the line for the country – are as cognizant and are especially important today. They, more so than most, know what is at stake in a pivotal election in which they can make a decided difference.
Many of them lean towards conservative values – as does most of the HispanicLatino community – until they are given a choice. Had Republicans not taken so stringent an anti-immigrant tone that spills over into the rest of the HispanicLatino population, they would have been able to count on a significant bloc within the HispanicLatino veteran community. But veterans who have put their lives on the line for the values of equality and the right to vote, veterans who are offended that only HispanicLatinos are being asked to ascertain their citizenship status and veterans who do not want to be subjected to discriminatory police practices are the ones who could tip the balance in the election or turn it into a rout. Many of these veterans – most of whom come from middle and lower-middle class households – know innately that their community is under attack. And they are trained to fight back; leaders who can lead.
The reason that many HispanicLatino veterans reject Republican candidates is the very reason they can be organized to defend their community as they helped defend their country. And enough HispanicLatino veterans live in narrowly contested states to generate a direct impact. HispanicLatino veterans are a corps of voters and potential volunteers that neither party has organized effectively.
Republicans long ago seem to have missed a brilliant opportunity to make HispanicLatino veterans a phalanx to pierce through the traditional support the Democratic Party enjoys among HispanicLatinos. As for Democrats – given the inordinate influence of cliques within its structure that are reflexively anti-military – they also have not made HispanicLatino veteran support a core part of their strategic approach to the future. But given events in Arizona and other states – with more attacks to come from an off-center Supreme Court – Democratic strategists are more likely to find ways to marshal HispanicLatino veterans into a shock troops of well-discplined volunteers who can follow a plan to make sure the HispanicLatino vote is organized to the maximum degree possible. A little shock and awe, anyone?
Democrats also have in their favor a suspicion among HispanicLatino veterans that someone like President Obama is more likely than a Mitt Romney to protect the well-deserved benefits that veterans of all stripes and colors earned in service of their country. And HispanicLatino veterans are quite aware of who it is that defends the country. They know that Romeny’s five healthy, strong, well-fed sons served not one day in the military. And HispanicLatino veterans know, too, that the price of war falls on the poor and minority populations of the country, and many are tired of ten years of George W. Bush’s wars. Many are elated that Obama ended the country’s mistaken involvement in Iraq and is winding down the disaster in Afghanistan. And almost all of them probably admire Obama’s cool dispatch of Osama Bin Laden and a host of al-Qaeda terrorists.
But most important, HispanicLatino veterans are loyal American citizens who believe in democratic values, and they probably sense they cannot leave their communities defenseless.
Feel free to forward these blogs adapted from previous writings, with additional thoughts published invariably in between.