"He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water." Isaiah 49:10

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Obama Elected in a Landslide....wink, wink....

By Fidel “Butch” Montoya

If you watch or read carefully, you may sense reading between the lines and listening carefully to what the network and cable newscasters are saying. The McCain voter might as well stay home because Obama is all but about to be crowned King. For the Obama voter, stay home, Obama already has it in the bag and it will be by a landslide.

Yes, it appears that many newscasters and all of the experts they have analyzing all the different polls out there, have all but confirmed among themselves that an Obama landslide scenario is in place, leaving McCain unable to get the number of electoral votes he needs to be elected president.

A landslide election will put an end to all the clamoring about how the Latino vote made a difference and was the winning edge to electing Obama.

All the Latino electioneering will quickly be put to rest along with every other interest group that loses bragging rights as to who actually pushed Obama over the winner’s line.

With early voting taking place and mail ballots soaring in popularity, we are getting an idea how big the vote is going to be. For example, in Colorado almost a third of the voters have already cast their ballot, which is close to a million ballots already cast. Thirty states have early voting, and NBC News reports some locations already are reporting five hour wait time to vote in this year's election.

One of the reasons for the early voting is the debacle many voters faced when they were forced to stand in line for hours; an unbearable sacrifice for many prospective voters who with stood the unbearable delays and countless voting machine and software problems.

The news pundits are already making their predictions on who is actually casting the early votes. Some of the pundits say it is the elderly. Others say it is the new first time voter, excited to vote. Still other pundits and Election Night voter experts predict that it is the voter who was caught in our nation’s worst Election Day fiasco in 2006 and don’t want to repeat that experience again.

Yet the Get Out The Votes (GOTV) efforts by some voting organizers are still hard working the telephones and walking door to door trying to get their supporters ready to vote on Election Day. The weekend before Election Day are the last two best days where everyone will be out in force trying to get their voter supporters to the voting booth.

In one particular Latino precinct in west Denver, only about two percent of the registered voters have voted early, creating quite a bit of alarm for registration workers who had targeted this neighborhood. They are worried that much of their hard work to register the Latino voter may turn out to be for naught.

The telephones are starting to ring with anxiety and alarm trying to figure out why early voting numbers are so low. Trying to locate all those people who registered to vote and promised to vote early as well is becoming a major job, if not an impossible one.

It is one thing to register voters, but it is another major challenge in particular to motivate the first time voters who signed on the dotted line to actually vote. Trying to reach and impress the newly registered voter and help them understand and realize it is time to deliver on the promise to vote early, is becoming a major task in comparable neighborhoods like Westwood area in Denver.

With all the scandalous electioneering mud being thrown back and forth by the candidates, and in some cases by the candidate’s advisers, the voter registration battle hit a major snag when ACORN was accused of registering dead people, their relatives, and registering other people's names multiple times.

The scandal seemed to take a bit of steam out of the enthusiasm that surrounded getting the newly registered voter to getting around to voting early. The fraudulent cloud of suspicion also created a new voting class of illegal voters.

All the secret winks and nods of the head by newscasters, seemingly signaling in secret code that an Obama landslide is on the way, it almost gives a person sufficient reason not to stand in line again – for hours to cast their vote for a candidate the news media is already prepared to call as the winner or as the loser.

Predictions about long waits and voting machine malfunctions are beginning to creep out again. In the last election in 2006, some voters waited for several hours to vote, while some left in disgust and never got an opportunity to cast their ballots for their choice. This year in Georgia, election officials are trying to persuade voters to keep the faith after some voters WAITED six hours to vote early.

With the prospect of having to wait in line to vote for hours again, and then listen to newscasters or editorials pages preparing to call a close presidential election in other parts of the country or calling close races based on exit polling before they get to vote destroys ones confidence that one vote actually does make a difference.

In the end, one of the most important responsibilities we have as a citizen of the world’s greatest democracy is being polluted by scandal, trickery, and violation of our election laws.

If the newscasters on network or cable news outlets and newspaper editors are prepared to declare Obama the winner by a landslide even before everyone has had a chance to vote, may these news outlets continue to sink in the viewers perception of being fair and balanced.

No wonder so many voters are contemplating to simply stay away again at a time when we need every vote to be counted….wink, wink.

Fidel “Butch” Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries – Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is McCain really losing the Latino Vote?

By Fidel “Butch” Montoya

The National Survey of Latino Protestants: Immigration and the 2008 Election revealed some interesting information about who Latinos may end supporting for president, plus outlining issues that may play a role in how Latinos may vote in the upcoming election.

The survey finds that Latino Protestant voters may have shifted their support from the Republican Party to the Democratic presidential candidate. The results of the survey also claim immigration is a key factor in helping Latinos determine how they will cast their vote.

One very interesting factor revealed by the survey shows that Latinos are blaming both political parties for “the negative rhetoric on immigration.”

The biased notion reported by the news media indicting the Republican Party as being the chief culprit in creating a very negative and hateful tone against undocumented immigrants has not fully convinced Latinos that the GOP is the sole instigator of this anti-immigrant movement.

There is no doubt, the Republican’s pursuit of their heavy handed enforcement only strategy has incubated the anti immigration atmosphere of fear and hate in our country, however, Latinos are quick to point out the Democrat Party has not done much to differentiate themselves from the Republicans on this issue.

When powerful Democratic leaders like Representative Rahm Emanuel continue to pressure Democratic members of the House to support legislation like the SAVE Act, and the failed H. B. 4437 which would have made religious leaders and other leaders in non-profit organizations who work with undocumented immigrants – felons. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish who is more anti-immigrant.

In fact, in my opinion, both parties are equally vague when it comes to how they will champion immigration reform in a new administration after the election determines the next president.

In breaking down the numbers of the recently released poll, it is somewhat confusing just how much support John McCain is receiving from Latino voters.

The National Survey of Latino Protestants indicates that Obama is benefiting by a shift in the support of Latinos by a wide margin, and that immigration is a key factor in helping influence their support.

Other polls conducted among the Latino voter have shown that immigration is in fact not the only reason some Latinos are supporting Obama over McCain.

Many of the previous polls have shown that Latino voters are equally concerned about the economy as the number one issue, with the war in Iraq, education, and other bread and butter issues that concern other mainstream voters.

However, I do agree with the statement Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference made about the new survey. “This poll powerfully demonstrates that immigration is a profoundly religious issue for Hispanic evangelicals. We will vote our faith and we will vote our values. It’s time that all candidates take notice.”

In my opinion, we must be careful what the new poll numbers accurately reflect about the Latino voter versus what the new poll surveyed – “Latino Protestants” reflects. Looking back at other surveys and polls, the new survey seems to be cutting out a new sub-group of voter presences.

For example, the new survey says that Latino Protestants are supporting Obama by a”wider margin”, than they supported President George W. Bush in the 2004 election. The survey states that Obama has the support of Latino Protestants by 50.4% compared to the 33.6% for McCain. 10.4% of the voters remain undecided, which I believe is a large number of undecided voters each candidate needs to work to get them in their column.

The survey states, “This represents a dramatic shift from 2004 when George W. Bush soundly won the Latino Protestant vote*.” I believe this statement clearly needs an asterisk as to not confuse the percentage of support that President Bush enjoyed in the 2004 election.

Surveys taken after the 2004 election have shown that President Bush had 40% to 44% of the Latino vote. In fact, Bush increased his support among Latinos from 2000 to 2004 by almost 7% to 11%.

While I researched other 2004 surveys looking for a voter sub-group or a voter pool of “Latino Protestants” that reflected the preference of this group, I have been unable to find a breakdown of support by this Latino voter sub-group.

For me it is difficult to say that McCain has lost a large percentage of the Latino voters while the new survey is indicating he is now receiving 33.6% of the “Latino Protestant” voter.

By reviewing the post 2004-election results showing the level of support “Latinos“ gave Bush and the results of this new survey is almost like comparing apples to oranges. It is impossible to do.

Here is where it can get tricky if we are not careful to co-mingle the “Latino Protestant” voter of 2008, with perhaps a larger poll sub-group of “Latino” voters of 2004.

If we take the figures from 2004 surveys and new survey results from the National Survey of Latino Protestants: Immigration and the 2008 Election, we can very well draw the conclusion that McCain is on track to match Bush’s Latino support in 2008.

Bush received 40% of the Latino vote in 2008, and the newly released survey shows 33.6% for McCain, McCain seems to be holding his own with Latino voters. In fact, from an earlier 2008 survey, McCain has increased his support from 26% Latino support.

Several pollsters have disputed the 40% support that Bush received in 2004 claiming the results were closer to 37% or even less.

If these pollsters have heart burn over the fact that some post 2004 election surveys have Bush at 40% of the Latino vote, imagine the level of discomfort they must have when reading the results from the new recently released survey that states, “According to 2004 post-election survey data, Bush won 63% of this segment of the Latino electorate.”

Whether or not the results of the new survey show more movement from the Latino voter toward the Democratic Party is open to debate. The fact that McCain is receiving 33.6% support among Latino voters is a signal to both candidates that Latinos are not running in droves to the Obama candidacy, particularly when you factor in the 10.4% that remains undecided.

Dr. Jesse Miranda, of the Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership at Vanguard University, best explains the strategy both candidates need to work out to secure a greater percentage of the Latino voter. “However, this energy can shift in the opposite direction unless there is support of what is important in terms of the interests and concerns of the largest minority in this country. This should be a clarion call to the next U. S. president.”

With a religious standard of justice and compassion toward undocumented immigrants, Latino voters value the importance of having the federal government living up to its responsibility to reform our antiqued immigration laws.

Yet, no political candidate should forget for one moment that Latinos also value a good economy, jobs that pay adequate salaries, quality educational opportunities, an end to the war in Iraq, and a new president that can restore our standing as a nation of justice, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

At this stage of the election, Democrats should not take the Latino vote for granted and Republicans in spite of the negative rhetoric from some members of the party, can still be convinced to vote for the candidate closer to their values and beliefs.

After all, there are still Democrats who have lost their way, and instead of pushing a favorable political agenda for Latino voters, their politics reflect a very negative anti-immigrant and Latino political position, which is one reason the Latino voter has not given its soul to the Democratic Party.

Fidel “Butch” Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries – Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212

Sunday, October 19, 2008

USA Today, Latino Protestants leaning toward Obama, survey shows

By Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

WASHINGTON — Latino Protestant voters appear to be swinging away from the Republican Party, a new poll shows, and immigration is a key factor.
The survey of 500 Latino Protestant registered voters found that 50.4% favored Democrat Barack Obama, while 33.6% favored Republican John McCain. Ten percent were undecided.

Those figures compare dramatically to post-election surveys that found President Bush won 63% of Latino Protestants in 2004 and 32% in 2000.

"This is a clear indication that the vote is indeed swinging dramatically from 2004 to 2008 but we'll see on Election Day how things actually turn out," said Katie Paris, a spokeswoman for Faith in Public Life, one of the co-sponsors of the poll.

Eighty percent of the Latino Protestants polled were self-identified "born-again" Christians and/or attended a congregation affiliated with an evangelical denomination.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: United States | Atlanta | Barack Obama | Republican Party | Republican John McCain | George W Bush | Claremont McKenna College | Public Life | National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference | Vanguard University
The immigration issue factored significantly in the findings, ranking close to abortion as a priority issue for this segment of voters. While 75% said abortion was "extremely" or "very" important in determining their vote, 71% felt that way about immigration reform. A smaller percentage, 56%, said gay marriage was extremely or very important.

"The lack of immigration reform may very well determine the outcome of the election," said the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, a poll co-sponsor.

"Immigration is a profoundly religious issue for Hispanic evangelicals. We will vote our faith and we will vote our values."

The poll also found that 83% of Latino Protestants said a candidate's position on immigration is key in determining their vote this year. Three out of four respondents said their religious beliefs are important in influencing their views on immigration.

The poll of 500 Latino Protestant registered voters also was sponsored by the Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership at Vanguard University, America's Voice Education Fund and Gaston Espinosa, associate professor of religious studies at Claremont McKenna College. It was conducted by SDR Consulting in Atlanta and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Can the Church relate to Justice?

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

Recently, I participated on a panel discussion sponsored by Greenwood Community Church, a mega-church in southwest Denver, related to justice. It was a unique opportunity to share my views and values on justice with other members of a diverse panel on what we perceived as justice.

A friend of mine, Dr. Malcolm Newton spoke of the need for the Church to embrace justice as well as the church has embraced charity. Dr. Newton feels the Anglo church has taken positive steps to try and address the issues related to poverty, hunger, and quality of life issues, but even so, he feels the Church has failed to live up to upholding justice as a primary responsibility of the church.

While a clear definition of "what is justice?" is not easy to reduce to a simple sentence we can all understand, it remains a group of words we must manipulate in order to create a simple sentence that is easily articulated in a fashion that we all can understand.

Justice is one concept we must learn to understand universally if we are to bring about equality and liberty for all. How does the Church do justice? How do we do justice?

A few weeks ago, I participated in a minister's regional retreat with pastors from La Iglesia de Dios (Church of God in Christ) in Colorado Springs with a similar goal. The objective of our group session was how do we reach out to a lost and trapped society, addressing issues of justice and civic participation.

Both the panel discussion and pastoral retreat related to the problem of the Church failing to reach out and literally touch the lives of the people who are hurting because of injustice in their lives. To often the Church seeks to address issues of justice and civic participation from only within the four walls of the Church. Anything beyond the walls of the church, both physical barriers or walls or the philosophical limits that go beyond our own purview of what justice means.

If the hurting, the down trodden, the sick, the homeless, those seeking justice don't show up inside our churches, often times we fail to reach out to them.

The "four wall theology" has been around for some time, and in my estimation has been one of the major reasons our churches have failed to establish themselves as search lights on the hill top.

Instead of being a beacon of hope offering a way to righteousness and ultimately justice, the beacon serves only to advertise our own self-righteousness and selfishness.

Our philosophy pertaining to our definition of justice must be associated with our public life style, and one that is strong enough in spite of controversy or hardship to stand with people who seek compassionate justice to address the problems they face.

Too often the church lives in a stage of chaos and panic, ready to condemn sin, call sinners to punishment and damnation, but rarely taking the time to understand why the people calling upon the Church for help, need help in the here and now.

The Church is quick to issue its condemnation and judgment on the lost. In some respects, the Church has become the jury and judge, and is quick to sentence the lost to more time in a sinful place, from which they have sought to change in the first place.

I sincerely believe the Church does not understand or have a corporate church definition of justice, and as a result, it loses many opportunities to reach out and help people survive the pressures of a demanding society.

The "four wall theology" goes hand in hand without thinking a judicial strategy of justice is an essential ministry. If we don't understand the ministry of justice, which I believe Christ came to administer to the lost and hopeless as an example for the Church to understand and relate to as important ministry. As for the Church, for too long we have failed to understand as one of our primary reasons for ministry.

Both sessions, the panel discussion and the pastoral presentation both sought out a way to declare a righteousness and to live beyond the life of good intentions.

By having the Biblical perspective of justice and righteousness, the Church can address issues hurting people face in their lives on a daily basis. Sometimes that calls for the pastor to go to the problem instead of asking people to come to the comfort of the pastoral office.

The Church must function outside of the four walls in ministry and find a path toward justice and righteousness.

The four wall theology should be put to rest, and the Church should be looking for at any opportunity to ask the question, how can the Church be a beacon of justice?

Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hispanic Evangelicals Defend Traditional Marriage

By Matt Daniels, J.D., Ph.D.
AFM Educates and Mobilizes
Latino Leaders in Arizona
The struggle to stop radical groups from destroying marriage and the family in our nation’s courts is accelerating in several states. For example, as in the case of California, voters in Arizona will be asked on Election Day to support a state amendment protecting marriage.

Last week, AFM Advisory Board Member Rev. Sam Rodriguez, Jr, delivered the keynote address at a meeting of the Arizona Latino Commission, attended by over a hundred Latino leaders from across the state. Collectively, these Latino leaders represent tens of thousands of Latinos in the state of Arizona.

Rev. Rodriguez’ message to Arizona Latino Commission -- which aired live over Almavision, a Spanish-lang uage television network -- was crystal clear: It’s just commonsense that marriage is between a man and a woman.

“Let’s defend marriage! It’s not about being against anything, it’s about being in favor of protecting our children,” said Rev. Sam Rodriguez, Jr., President of the National Hispani c Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC). “Marriage represents the antidote to the destructive social behavior of drug activity, teenage pregnancy, gang involvement, high school dropout and many others.”

The Arizona Latino Commission is comprised of about four-hundred Latino community leaders and Hispanic pastors – “Latino's serving Latino's” in the state of Arizona, focused on strengthening marriages, promoting bi-lingual education for children and teens, and providing parenting classes.

Marriage and family are central to Hispanic Americans – and the driving engine of their growth and success as a community. When this powerful cultural identity is connected with demographic reality, it’s not difficult to see that America’s Latino community is the determining force in the historic battle to protect marriage under our laws.

For years, the Alliance for Marriage has built a broad national coalition that reflects the wide support for marriage in America across racial, cultural and religious boundary lines. Building on this strategy, we are leading the effort to educate and mobilize Latino Americans in the struggle to protect marriage for the sake of our children and grandchildren.

Rev. Rodriguez’ remarks are most timely, as the state’s vibrant Latino community may be the deciding margin at the ballot box in a historic campaign to protect the future of marriage for our children in Arizona.

Thank you for your friendship a nd partnership in our efforts to ensure that more children in America are raised in a home with a mother and a father.

Matt Daniels, J.D., Ph.D.
Founder and President

NHCLC President, Rodriguez, speaks at Liberty University Convocation

Samuel Rodriguez speaks at convocation

Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia
posted on Wednesday, October 8, 2008 by By Eric Brown | in General News

In a time of uncertainty, students heard a message during Wednesday’s convocation that spoke of the one thing that remains certain throughout life’s struggles — God’s kingdom. The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr., president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, challenged students to overcome life’s obstacles by holding onto the dreams God has for them.

Using the biblical example of Joseph, Rodriguez noted that Egypt’s second-in-command adhered to God’s plan and purpose even in the most grueling situations. Upon sharing a dream with his brothers that he would one day rule over them, Joseph’s siblings stripped him of his robe and sold him into slavery.

Staying true to God’s will, Joseph rose up to become Pharaoh’s right-hand man, overseeing the day-to-day governing of Egypt. Rodriguez reminded students that much like Joseph, God’s plan for their lives supersedes the everyday challenges they face.

“You are here because God’s training and purpose in your life was greater than circumstances surrounding your life,” Rodriguez said. “Your promise was greater than your problem. Your miracle was greater than your mistake and your tomorrow shall be greater than your yesterday.”

Rodriguez also addressed the country’s economic state, reiterating that God is greater than the bleakest conditions. Quoting Matthew 6:33, he urged the crowd to be Christians first and focus on the values that take precedence over finances.

“There is something even more important than that which is in my wallet or in my bank account,” he said. “It is our commitment to the restoration of life, to the restoration of traditional marriage, and the restoration of the Judeo-Christian value system.”

Critics and pundits often point to the current generation as one that does not have a moral compass. Rodriguez responded to this criticism, saying that there are countless future Christian leaders who will impact the world for Christ.

“For those that believe that America is going to hell in a hand basket, I challenge them to come to Liberty University and see the future of America — those that will transform our nation and the world.”

Hispanics turn cold shoulder to McCain

By: Ben Smith
October 9, 2008 08:11 PM EST

Despite championing immigration reform in 2007, John McCain is poised to lose the Hispanic vote by a landslide margin that is well below President George W. Bush's 2004 performance.

Polls show Obama winning the broadest support from Latino voters of any Democrat in a decade, while McCain is struggling to reach 30 percent, closer to Senator Bob Dole's dismal 1996 result than to Bush's historic 40% four years ago.

McCain seems to have wound up with the worst of both worlds: He appears to be getting no credit from Latino voters for his past support for immigration reform, while carrying the baggage of other Republicans' hostility to illegal immigration.

And he's been unable or unwilling to attack Obama—who was once thought to have taken a lethally liberal stance by supporting granting drivers licenses to illegal immigrants—from the right.

As October puts four states with large Hispanic populations - Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico - at the center of the presidential contest, what appeared at first to be a possible strength for McCain has emerged as a profound weakness.

"I feel bad for McCain," said Sam Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and a prominent supporter of George W. Bush in 2004, who is neutral this year. "We find ourselves between the proverbial rock and the hard place. We really like John McCain. We really don't like the Republican Party."

Democrats relish McCain's quandary.

"It's hurt him in every way," said Simon Rosenberg, the president of the New Democrat Network, which has focused on bringing Hispanics back to the Democratic Party. "I don't think it's assured the right he's really with them. And for those who are immigration reform advocates, he's become a betrayer, having been a leader."

Since America's economic crisis deepened this fall, immigration has almost entirely vanished from the national conversation. Three debates have passed without a single mention of the issue. And the undertow has pushed Hispanic and anti-immigrant voters alike toward the Democratic Party.

But under the radar, McCain and Obama are slugging it out in a bitter exchange of attack ads on Spanish-language radio and television.

Obama's goal has been simple: To associate McCain with the anti-illegal immigrant Republican right. One ad - which even some of Obama's allies declined to defend - associated McCain with tough immigration-related rhetoric from Rush Limbaugh. McCain countered with an ad accusing Obama of distortions and, less credibly, of having killed last year's immigration reform measure himself.

Obama, whose Spanish-language barrage also touches a range of economic issues, responded with a more defensible attack ad, saying McCain "surrendered to the anti-immigrant movement" by saying he wouldn't vote for his own immigration reform bill.

"We're seeing the most aggressive Spanish language communication campaign for president that the state of Florida and the country has ever seen," said Fernand Amandi, the executive vice president of Bendixen and Associates, a polling firm that advises Obama.

Amandi said that some had also falsely assumed that because McCain shared Bush's moderate position on immigration, he would inherit Bush's support.

"President Bush making his life and career in Texas grew up with Hispanics, always had Hispanics in his inner circle and in his kitchen cabinet, and had a genuine respect for the culture," he said. "There was never an emotional connection, there was never a personal connection, between McCain and the Hispanic community."

McCain advisor Ana Navarro called the attack ads "pathetic ploys," and conceded that McCain is being dramatically outspent on the Spanish-language airwaves.

"Obama is trying to do with $20 million what John McCain has done with over 20 years of service," she said, citing a figure released by the Obama campaign. "We don't have that kind of money to spend."

Nonetheless, McCain continues to push hard for the Hispanic vote. He spoke about his plan to buy up bad mortgages in an interview with Univision Thursday, and he has offered almost nothing to the anti-immigration wing of his party since sewing up the Republican nomination.

Recent Gallup surveys show McCain with just 26 percent of the Hispanic vote.

Meanwhile, McCain is getting little affection from the other end of the spectrum either: anti-immigration conservatives.

"There's no substantial difference between the candidates on the underlying issue," said Steve Camarota, the research director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for restricting immigration.

To some analysts, McCain is ignoring a major chink in Obama's armor, though one which may have less salience now that the economic crisis dominates the headlines. When Obama said last fall that he would support states' decisions to issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants, Hillary Clinton's pollster Mark Penn told her staff that Obama might have just lost himself the election.

"We thought he was going to get killed over it," recalled a Clinton staffer, who said Penn's polling portrayed it as so "lethal" that it could cost Obama the reliably Democratic state of California.

Views differ on why McCain hasn't exploited this issue.

"He just doesn't have the stomach for pandering," said Navarro.

Others say immigration never cut as deeply as pundits imagined, and point to the dismal failure of Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo's single-issue presidential campaign.

"This issue has been a total loser, even inside the Republican Party," said Rosenberg.

And the shift of the campaign to the West and Florida may have simply made it too risky to antagonize his remaining Hispanic supporters, though some Democrats still think the issue may surface.

"Would McCain say, 'Screw it, I'm not picking up votes in these states, and would that be a Hail Mary? I wouldn't be surprised," said Frank Sharry, the executive director of the Democratic-leaning immigration group, America's Voice.

But as with other elements of his campaign, McCain may be battling forces beyond his control, as his advisor, Ana Navarro, noted.

"I don't think it has anything to do with John McCain," she said of his poll numbers.

Sam Rodriguez, the Hispanic evangelical leader who backed Bush, concurred.

"We really looked at McCain," he said. "If Bill Clinton was the first black president, John McCain could have been the first Latino president. Things were marching on until immigration reform failed."

© 2008 Capitol News Company, LLC

Power in the Pews, Newsweek Magazine and Hispanic Evangelicals

By Susan Ferriss - sferriss@sacbee.com
Published 12:00 am PDT Friday, October 10, 2008

Two presidential debates later, and still no comment from John McCain or Barack Obama on the issue of illegal immigration.

With anxiety over the economy high, immigration has faded from the national stage and become an inconvenient topic for candidates, said Efrain Escobedo, voter engagement director for the nonpartisan National Association of Latino Elected Officials, or NALEO.

Ironically, though, Escobedo said, the election's outcome could hinge on how each candidate frames immigration and how many Latino votes he can win in four swing states: Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Florida.

Both candidates are trying to connect with Latinos in those states who have been stung by anti-immigrant rhetoric they regard as racially tinged. The candidates want such voters to know they want increased immigration enforcement but also a path for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants to try to earn legal status.

McCain may have the more difficult task.

He once earned the respect of Latinos – and the wrath of many immigration hardliners in his own party – for championing so-called comprehensive reform. The Republican nominee now says he won't consider legalization or visa reform before Southwest governors certify that the U.S.-Mexico border is secure.

However, the Republican platform contradicts McCain by rejecting amnesty or "en mass legalizations."

The Rev. Sam Rodriguez, Sacramento-based president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, an evangelical network, is a social conservative leaning toward voting for McCain.

He has spoken with McCain about immigration and is convinced he has a commitment to legalization. But Rodriguez says he is bothered that the McCain campaign's message on immigration changes "according to the venue."

"The problem is Senator McCain's party has been the personification of xenophobia and nativism," said Rodriguez, who is Puerto Rican. "We really need the RNC (the Republican National Committee) to apologize to the Hispanic community."

Rodriguez was asked to serve on a national McCain Hispanic advisory committee, but turned it down at the behest of his organization.

McCain's support for legalization "was at his own political peril," said longtime GOP Latina activist and former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin, who is strongly pro-McCain. "Hispanics should be grateful."

Marin, state Consumer Services Agency secretary, will go to Colorado, she said, to turn out Latino votes before Election Day.

"There is no question" McCain will pursue legalization once the border is declared secure, Marin said. "He knows he doesn't have to bring every single Republican into the mix," she said.

Kevin Johnson, dean of the UC Davis School of Law and one of three professors at the school advising the Obama campaign on immigration policy, said immigration reform is "a dangerous issue to talk about when the economy is melting down."

But Obama hasn't wavered on the explosive issue when pressed publicly, Johnson said.

Leaving nothing to chance, both campaigns are airing immigration-related television ads, among other themes, in Spanish in swing states.

In one ad, McCain falsely blamed Obama and Democrats for the failure of comprehensive reform in Congress. An Obama ad drew fire for linking McCain to anti-immigrant GOP figures and radio talk-show hosts who have attacked McCain as soft on immigration.

Latinos are not monolithic, said NALEO's Escobedo, and the choice of how to campaign in each swing state shows that.

For example, McCain might attract votes talking up his military service in New Mexico or Colorado, with their high numbers of Latino veterans.

But in Nevada, an affirmative immigration message could tap into nearly 60,000 Latino voters who have registered since 2004 – half of all the state's registered Latinos.

President Bush won Nevada in 2004 by only 20,000 votes.

In a NALEO survey last month, Nevada Latino voters said immigration reform was the second-most important issue in deciding how to vote.

The survey also found that one out of every three Latino voters in Nevada is undecided.

Bill Hing, another Obama adviser from UC Davis Law School, said the Democratic nominee "understands immigrants are dumped on unfairly. He's used the word scapegoat."

In North Carolina, Obama was asked recently whether undocumented youths should be allowed to attend community colleges, as 112 did last year.

The Democratic nominee said he thought it made sense if they had spent most of their lives here, and that it would be better to find a pathway for them to become legal. Contacted by media in that state, the McCain campaign didn't address the specific question but said McCain doesn't support amnesty or benefits for illegal immigrants.

Obama, Johnson said, backs the DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented youths who grew up here to earn legal status if they attend college or serve in the military.

McCain was once a prominent GOP supporter of the act. At a July conference of the National Council of La Raza, a civil rights group, he implied he still backed the concept.

He didn't show up for a 2007 Senate vote on the DREAM Act, and his campaign didn't respond to several requests for clarification on his stand.

Rodriguez, who has campaigned for Bush twice, noted that Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote nationwide in 2004, 10 points higher than in 2000.

If McCain falls far short of Bush's last results in Nevada and other swing states and loses the election, Rodriguez said, "the Republican Party has only itself to blame."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Will Values push Latinos to the Polls?

Fidel "Butch" Montoya

As the global economic fallout continues to create fear and chaos around the world, it is difficult at best to try and listen to the two candidates discuss issues of little or no relevance in the debates.

In fact, the last debate was labeled by many pundits as simply, "boring!"

It is almost frightening to think the two candidates for the highest political office in the world are using cheap lies and campaign trickery at each other instead of providing solutions to a bankrupt American economy, and like it or not, to a global economy we worked so hard to create.

Recent poll watchers who follow Latino preferences and issues related to the campaign were dumb-founded to find out that Latinos like every other American voter, are most of all concerned about the economy.

Duh? It is the economy - stupid.

Read my lips...the economy.

Apparently too many pollsters and political "experts" believe that all we do is sit around all day against the cactus, sleeping with our large sombrero down over our eyes, and when we do get up from our siesta for that cold tequila, we immediately start plotting ways to exploit the immigration issue.

Surprise - surprise...."Latino priorities are American priorities." Arturo Vargas, the director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, wrote in his blog.

For some reason, the uneducated and unaware political advisor to McCain or Obama have created the false impression that all we care about is immigration.

Not to belittle the immigration issue, it is an important issue because with it comes the possible resolution to better jobs, more quality of life opportunities, better educational options, and believe it or not, less racism and bigotry.

Lack of immigration reform has allowed too many so-called Americans to spew out their hatred and racism at all "brown people." If you were to ask many of our "white citizens," most would tell you that all immigrants and brown people are from Mexico, and unfortunately, they truly believe what they are saying.

So while immigration reform remains an important issue, believe it or not, Latinos buy homes, purchase new vehicles, go the grocery store like everyone else, and have to buy gasoline for their SUV's like John Smith down the road. Four dollar gasoline prices hurt our budgets just like everyone else.

I worry about the long term prospects of the monthly mortgage payment, filling up the three cars we own with high grade gasoline, and whether or not, we get to go out to a movie and dinner this week.

So finally as some of the pollsters are finding out, Latinos are voters just like every other voter group out there. We are conservative, moderate, and liberal.

Our daughters like the color pink like any other American first grade girl.

We are not some strange "alien" like so many hate radio two faced talkers like to spew out on hate radio.

I worry about the war in Iraq, just like my neighbor down the street. We all worry about universal health care for our families, not necessarily better jobs, just jobs, and better educational options for our families.

It is amazing how pundits and pollsters like to "break out the numbers" from their polls and analyze how "the Latino is going to vote."

For the Democratic Party leaders, like it or not, most Latino voters are conservatives. Too many of us have been misled over the years to believe the Democratic Party is the party of the people.

In all actuality, Latino values are closer to the Republican Party than most want to admit. It is just that we have been sold a bill of goods all these years that says the Democrats are the party of the poor people. Fortunately, not all Latinos are poor people anymore and as such, aren't the good Democrats anymore either.

While we - the Latino voter - know the issues of poverty, lack of education, health care, and environment very well, we still remain strong opponents of abortion and gay marriage.

I find it amusing that for some reason, the Democratic Party finally discovered poverty this year as an issue. Let me tell you, poverty is an important issue and it is a real problem we have faced all of our lives, and trust me, poverty has never been trendy in our community.

Those old pair of shoes I got off the shelf at the second hand store in Center, Colorado in first grade were brand new to me...and those same shoes, were someone else's trash.

What the Democratic Party is trying to do is "pretend like poverty is much more important than abortion or gay marriage," and therefore, a priority for Latinos.

Poverty, gay marriage, abortion, health care, education have always been priority issues in our community. Don't try to fool me into believing that poverty is more important than abortion, both are equally bad.

Our value system are family oriented and center around the importance of family unity. Abortion is not about family and it represents something dark and unwelcome in our culture.

We celebrate life and the traditional marriage because it is an integral part of our culture and value system which represents the good we have.

Yes, we have gays in our community, but the 2% do not dictate to the majority what a traditional marriage is all about.

It is very plain in our culture, if you are part of the family, you are family.

Unfortunately, gays have been shunned in our community like any other community in our country. Gay bashers know no color or creed.

I love my family - no matter who you are. As long as my blood flows in your veins, you are family!

Arturo Vargas does articulate one more point about this year's election that is very important. "The candidate who speaks most directly and effectively to the issues Latinos - and all Americans - care about will find himself in the White House in January."

So while we the Latino voter are an important voter group in this election, unless we actually get out and vote on election day, our good intentions will not matter.

So how will Latinos vote in the general election?

Like any other American who cares about our country.

Don't use the right to vote, and you lose the right to complain.

Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212

Sunday, October 5, 2008

So Whose Fault is the Banking Collapse?

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

Like most other folks, I have been terribly concerned and confused by the Wall Street mess and the bailout by the American taxpayer. Looking at the issue simply as a selfish one, and asking the question, what does the bailout do for me and what do I get out of it?

I have read the news articles about the back door meetings with members of Congress and the Bush Administration Treasury officials. At some points in the meeting, it has been reported that you could hear a pin drop as the shocked and frightened members of Congress heard of the alternatives if they could not saddle the tax bill on the tax payer.

There was talk of a global financial meltdown and of a great depression for our country. Treasury officials were worried about more bank failures, perhaps even causing a run on the banks as panicked consumers looked to get their money out of failing banks.

Perhaps all of the scenarios did not look good at that point, but what concerns me the most is how we allowed our banking and investment institutions to get to this point. It does not make sense that our country would allow banking executives to play so loose with our country's financial and banking industry? How could this happen?

Now we are talking about a more than $750 Billion dollar bailout, guaranteed by American taxpayers, and this is supposedly only the beginning of the "investment the American taxpayer must make in our economy."

Some financial experts say there are plenty of suspects as to who is responsible for the collapse of several financial icons and bankruptcies of American companies we all thought represented integrity and honor among financial institutions.

Imagine the horror as thousands, hundred of thousands employees saw their companies, collapse and basically overnight disappear from the Wall Street scene. There was video of employees walking out of tower offices, carrying a box of belongings. The end of their careers, at least with some of these companies.

While there was enough human drama and stories that could break your heart as employees felt the world had just ended, the ugly question remained, who was responsible for this collapse? Who would put our country in such peril if we are to believe all the end of the world scenarios outlined for Congress members?

It seemed so easy to just assume that the taxpayer would accept responsibility for the failure, man made failures by banking institutions.

After reading time and time again, how top corporate executives often walked away from their failing companies with "golden parachutes" worth millions of dollars, it just didn't seem right when it happened. While rank and file employees faced financial peril, there was no one to look out for their interests.

And for me that is the central point of concern. While the bigwigs lived high in the penthouses of New York City, ate at all the fancy restaurants, and lived the lives of Kings and Queens, the rest of us have had to eat our losses and pay higher taxes with no one willing to bail us out.

Just once it would have been nice to see a bank tell a customer who was in mortgage default, "Don't worry, we will let you pass this month, and we are considering writing off your bad loan."

Millions of Americans are losing their homes due to mortgage defaults, thousands are losing their jobs, GM, Ford, and other car manufacturers are close to bankruptcy or in bankruptcy, airlines flying with so much red ink, it is frightening, and yet, I don't see any efforts being made to help individual American taxpayers who need help the most right now.

For someone who is losing their job, their home, their future, it could very well feel like a depression, a personal financial meltdown, and no help in sight.

I hope the politicians come clean on this bailout....a word the government does not want us to use, because it creates the impression we are bailing out private capitalist enterprises, and since when do we owe the business fat cats our support?

Perhaps I don't understand all the repercussions and the fate that awaits our economy, but where was the President, the Congress, the Treasury Department, and the candidates for federal offices? Why are we paying our elected officials if they seem to not know how to protect our country's financial resources and future?

Meanwhile, I am waiting for my mortgage banker to call me and say, "we are writing off your loan. Have a happy day, and by the way, if you need another loan or credit card, don't be afraid, just ask."

Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212