By Fidel “Butch” Montoya
There is an interesting Politico.Com Op-ed entitled GOP flirting with disaster on Latinos by Janet Murguia, President and CEO of National Council of La Raza that outlines reasons why the NHCLC Voter Registration Drive is so critically important for each of us to participate in today. Unfortunately, the Republican Party is doing whatever they can to alienate the Latino vote by using Latinos and undocumented immigrants as a scapegoat for our nation’s ills. This strategy is not only going to hurt the party in the short term, but also in the long term as the Latino population continues to grow.
Murguia states the reality of the present GOP strategy to scare it base into action. “The real question is whether the GOP realizes the cost of its actions. The party is mortgaging its future. Republicans’ tunnel-vision focus on 2010 could mean they're flirting with permanent minority status.”
Interestingly enough, if the Republican Party was not out to scapegoat Latinos and undocumented immigrants, most Latinos would probably register as Republicans because of the conservative values many share with the GOP. Whether it is abortion, marriage, or other conservative issues, many Latinos share those conservative values. Yet, Republicans continue to alienate the Latino voter, and thus the party's future draws bleaker by driving Latinos to turn their backs on the Republican Party.
It is no wonder that according to a recent Gallup Poll, more Latinos identify with the Democratic Party by 53 percent, and only 21 percent with the GOP.
But to make it clear, the NHCLC is not an effort to register more Republicans, Democrats or Independents. It is a national objective to register more voters who will vote their values and beliefs and hold politicians who promise to uphold those values accountable. We must endeavor to involve more Latinos in the political process and involve them in helping to change the deteriorating morality and evilness in our country. By giving Latinos a powerful voice and political influence in taking a stand for our Christian values and beliefs, we can make a difference in the future outlook of our nation.
Janet Murguia makes two interesting points in this Op-ed:
• This Latino vote has already been credited with turning several red states blue, or at least purple. Yet, because of increasingly anti-Latino positioning, the Republican Party has been hemorrhaging Latino support since 2004. That was the high-water mark - when President George W. Bush won 43 percent of the Latino vote.
• Latinos are the youngest and fastest-growing group of voters in the country. What does that mean? In 1994, 3.5 million Latinos went to the polls. By 2008, that number was 10 million. There are still nearly 8 million Latinos who are eligible but have not yet registered to vote. Moreover, a half-million young Latino citizens will turn 18 every year for the next 20 years, according to Democracia U.S.A.
This is perhaps one of the most important reasons why we must do what we can to get unregistered Latinos to register to vote. I don't suspect we are encouraging anyone to register as a Democrat, but to register and vote the values they share with politicians running for public office. We need to ensure that the politicians we support for public office are sincere, honest, and will uphold their word to vote our agenda
But in order to have more influence in the election process, we have to get more Latinos REGISTERED to VOTE. "Imagine if there are 8 million Latinos who are eligible but have not yet registered to vote? Moreover, a half-million young Latinos CITIZENS will turn 18 every year for the next 20 years, according to Democracia U.S.A. "Imagine the potential political power and influence our community would have if we registered more Latinos who are eligible to vote if they registered.
The NHCLC Voter Drive is an opportunity that we must not squander or ignore in our haste to ensure that as Latino Evangelicals we not only preach justice and righteousness from the pulpit, but that we also walk our talk. This is our time to share the Gospel by standing up for justice and due process. Our values represent the values of justice, due process, and the rights of citizenship.
Registering and encouraging more individuals from the Latino community to vote can have a dramatic impact on every election they participate in. We must motivate them to register, and challenge them to vote in the elections. One of our problems has been getting Latinos to the polls to vote. We must inspire them this year to vote for candidates who represent the interests of our community.
One of the most important steps we must take is to ensure that pastors are aware of the issues and how they affect our Spanish speaking communities. We must not just expect Latinos to enter the four walls of our churches, but we must reach out to them by advocating the truths of the Bible that call for justice, righteousness, and adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But to do that effectively, pastors must understand the issues and oppose the hypocrisy and lies of the extreme right wing of the Republican Party who are doing their best to create Latino monsters out of undocumented immigrants and Latinos.
Pastors supporting the ideology of the Tea Party or laws like SB 1070 must understand these are ideologies of hate, fear, and created to scare the average white Evangelical in believing Latinos and undocumented immigrants are criminals, or part of the drug cartel culture, gang members, immigrants wanting to rip off social services, or wanting to bring a hostile cultural heritage to our country.
Senator Lindsey Graham accuses undocumented immigrant Latinas for "dropping babies" in our country so they can be citizens is so outrageous, he should apologize to every Latina for such demagogy. "Dropping babies" as if our children were animals. It is time we make sure our pastors and faith leaders are not following the hate doctrine being used to divide our country and stand up and condemn the false accusations of these hate mongers.
The debate whether or not the Congress holds hearings to change the 14th amendment to prevent "immigrant babies" from claiming American citizenship is being used to create the false scenario that Latinos are invading the country by "dropping babies." As you may know, the 14th Amendment was adopted to give slaves and their children the right to citizenship. It would give people the right to get out of slavery and bondage and give them freedom and due process under the law.
I cannot even imagine that our country was a country that approved of slavery and bondage for other human beings and denied them and their children the right to claim their own personal dignity and citizenship. It was a point in our country’s history of immoral values and disrespect for African Americans who were forced to cross the ocean in slave ships, held in chains, and treated as less than human beings.
The history of our country is not always the shiny example of democracy that we claim to hold dear in our country. We should be ashamed of how we treated Blacks in the early history of these United States. Today, descendants of this immorality have found a new “slave” and someone to deny the dignity of humanness. We must never allow the American way of life to allow the immoral enslavement of any group as we did the African Americans.
Novelguide.com best describes one of the more important aspects of the 14th Amendment: “It also bestowed on U.S. citizens equal rights under the law. The result was to limit drastically the power of states to define citizenship or to treat their citizens in a discriminatory fashion. Thus, the states were prohibited from denying a person equal protection under the law. The meaning of this development in the long-term debate over federalism versus states' rights was that henceforth the federal government would assume the ultimate responsibility for protecting the civil rights of citizens. As part of this ruling, the Fourteenth Amendment also declared that states must respect every person's right to due process of law.” In some instances, it is clear that the 14th Amendment is not being enforced, particularly when it comes to protecting the rights of many Latino citizens “right to due process of law.”
But another thing the 14th Amendment allowed was the Confederacy, those persons who disavowed their citizenship to the U.S.A. and in place, became ex-citizens and should have been charged with "treason" by our own Constitution for becoming part of the Confederacy. In other words, after disavowing their citizenship to the U.S.A., the Confederates were no longer citizens of these United States.
Knowing our country’s history and its propensity to create a civil war for slavery, treat Chinese as non persons, using “Operation Wetback” to send back Latino citizens and Mexican undocumented immigrants by cattle cars on the railroad back to Mexico, to strip Japanese of their American rights and send them to encampments in places like the lonely wind swept prairies of Southeastern Colorado, almost wiping out the Native Indian nations from their lands, and fighting another illegal war like the war against Mexico to steal land from the Mexicans, some ask, why worry about this crazy idea to change the 14th Amendment? What more American history do you need to read, because there is a lot more that should scare you in taking your place at the polls on Election Day?
If we do not confront the hate, the “crazy idea” of amending the 14th Amendment, enacting more laws like SB 1070, allowing outright lies and rumors that are false being perpetuated by members of Congress about undocumented immigrants, many good citizens begin to accept the lies as truth, a truth so warped by hate and racism.
Harold Meyerson, columnist for the Washington Post put it more concisely. "The Confederates had renounced all allegiance to the United States. They made war on the Untied States -- the Constitution's definition of treason -- and, in an effort to keep 4 million Americans enslaved, killed more of our soldiers than any foreign army ever did."
I believe if the Congress holds hearings to consider taking away the right of undocumented immigrants’ babies from becoming citizens, we should also consider taking away the right of citizenship from people who renounced their American citizenship and disavowed their right to citizenship not only for themselves, but for their children, and their children, and their children.
The Confederates were basically charged with treason for fighting a civil war that fought to maintain a way of life that included the right to keep slaves. Imagine our country had to fight a civil war in order to eliminate the right to keep slavery in this country. Instead of addressing these issues in the Congress, our country’s leaders chose to fight a civil war, against one another, and fighting one of the bloodiest wars in our history. Out of hate and racism, we ended killing thousands of men than any foreign enemy has ever done on the battle fields.
I don’t know if you have visited the sacred and solemn place called Gettysburg. I remember it as an eerie and quiet place as I stood listening only to the wind blow across the meadow where so many soldiers died defending our United States. As I looked across imagining the bursts of gunfire, cannon balls, shouts of soldiers running toward the enemy, the shouts of pain and death, and those who thought of loved one as they fall to the ground dying on the immortal fields of Gettysburg. How could “Americans fight Americans” in such an ugly war of hate, anger, and for the wrong moral values and beliefs? If we did it once, could we do again?
Meyerson also clarifies the one most troubling problems facing our country after the Civil War. What to do with a nation where about half were charged with treason? Meyerson writes, "Yet Lincoln was determined to make it easy for Confederates to regain their citizenship. By taking an oath to support the United States and its Constitution, Confederates were made Americans again." No fines, no taxes to be paid, no indoctrination classes on American civic government, and especially, no requirement to learn the English language.
Keep in mind that Abraham Lincoln was perhaps one of the greatest Presidents in our country’s history having to bring a nation torn apart by war and slavery. Meyerson again shares his insight on the contradictory sense of political philosophy from Lincoln to one present day Republican United States Senator who should be ashamed for his hateful words uttered toward undocumented immigrants. Graham, once a man of reason, now considered a man of hate and injustice.
Don’t think extreme options are not being used by Republican candidates for office; just ask Sharron Angle of Nevada who appealed to her extremist Tea Party base that at some point we might have to use our “2nd Amendment remedies.” What does “2nd Amendment remedies” mean? Angle refuses to answer that question from Nevada news journalists, but we all know the 2nd Amendment allows us the right to bear arms to protect ourselves and our property. But when used in the same context and sentence that ends by saying, “and we need to take to Harry Reid out,” what is she talking about? Talk about scary and reality if candidates of the extreme right are appealing to followers to start thinking of “2nd Amendment remedies.”
“Suppose, though, that Lincoln had been filled with the spirit of today's Republicans. The crimes that Republicans ascribe to today's illegal immigrants pale next to those of Confederate leaders and supporters (chiefly, treason). A Lindsey Graham-like Lincoln would never have let the Confederates regain citizenship. Moreover, he would have denied citizenship to their children and their children's children. A large share of the nation, certainly of the white South, would have drifted endlessly in a legal limbo.”
And yet this is exactly what Senator Graham is proposing to happen to every “undocumented immigrant baby” born (or dropped) in the United States. They would be relegated to a state of legal limbo, with no rights or claim to citizenship of any country.
Meyerson also references a study recently completed by the Center for American Progress that tracked the demographic changes within the political parties. It shows the Republican percentage of white Christians will fall to about 35 percent of the population by 2040. Who will be largest group as time moves forward?
With the hate rhetoric and by supporting the anti immigrant movement by endorsing laws like SB 1070, using Latinos and undocumented immigrants as scapegoats for our nation’s problems, and claiming that Latinos are responsible for crime waves when FBI crime stats show that violent crimes and crime in general are down, even in Arizona, is immoral and should get the attention of every Latino so that we can work to rid our Congress of these people who despise Latinos and “dropped babies”.
Perhaps the best question that columnist Meyerson asks Senator Graham is one that we all should be asking or at least contemplating. "So, the question for Lindsey Graham is: Are you serious about revoking the citizenship of 4 million children, their children and their children's children? How about a package deal: Stripping their citizenship in return for stripping the citizenship of Confederate descendants. A sort of Missouri Compromise for our times. Bipartisan in action."
With the positive future demographics on our side, let's join the NHCLC effort to ensure we are diligent in our efforts to get more of the 8 million Latinos who are eligible but who have failed to register so far this year and to encourage them by telling them their vote in the 2010 mid-term elections in November is critically important. By registering more Latinos, we can dictate our agenda in the political process, and you can believe the politicians will be listening for our agenda for a better America.
For more on the Center for American Progress study, go to this link:
GOP flirting with disaster on Latinos
By: Janet Murguia
August 12, 2010 10:00 AM EDT
The National Council of La Raza honored Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in 2007 for his work on immigration. “We are going to solve this [immigration] problem,” Graham said that night. “We're not going to run people down. We're not going to scapegoat people. We're going to tell the bigots to shut up, and we're going to get this right.”
Now, Graham talks about immigrant women giving birth in the United States as a “drop and leave” calculation — as if describing animals. This is the surest sign yet that the Republican Party has written off the Latino community in the midterm elections.
It’s your prerogative, Republican leaders, but let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, long, long ago, in the state of California , there lived a Republican governor who had abysmal approval ratings and was facing reelection. He, too, decided that Latino-bashing was his way out. And so he foisted Proposition 187 upon the land.
Yes, he won reelection. But his success placed a curse on his fellow Republicans. Not one could win a major office in the state. Until Arnold Schwarzenegger — an immigrant with moderate and pragmatic positions on immigration — broke the curse in 2003 by winning the gubernatorial race.
Now, we know 1994 was long ago. But there are several reasons why the tale of Gov. Pete Wilson and his legacy’s impact on California Republicans should serve as a wake-up call for today’s Republican Party:
The Numbers: Latinos are the youngest and fastest-growing group of voters in the country. What does that mean? In 1994, 3.5 million Latinos went to the polls. By 2008, that number was 10 million. There are still nearly 8 million Latinos who are eligible but have not yet registered to vote. Moreover, a half-million young Latino citizens will turn 18 every year for the next 20 years, according to Democracia U.S.A.
This Latino vote has already been credited with turning several red states blue, or at least purple. Yet, because of increasingly anti-Latino positioning, the Republican Party has been hemorrhaging Latino support since 2004. That was the high-water mark — when President George W. Bush won 43 percent of the Latino vote.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) received just 30 percent in 2008. A recent survey by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials shows support for this year’s California Republican candidates for senator and governor is in the teens.
The Issues: Immigration, though traditionally not at the top of Latino concerns, always has an energizing effect on voter participation because a candidate’s stance here offers Latinos a proxy for how he or she views their community. This is not surprising — considering the level of anti-Latino sentiment the immigration debate has unleashed on the Latino community, regardless of immigration status.
For years, Latino voters’ top concerns were remarkably consistent: jobs and the economy, education and health care. Today, several recent polls tell a different story — Latinos now rank immigration as either No. 1 or No. 2. And Latino voters, who overwhelmingly support comprehensive immigration reform, are likely to be looking at how candidates talk about and act on this issue.
The Voters: The anger Wilson and Prop. 187 provoked in the Latino community and its consequences are well-documented. The well-worn admonition that those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it still holds. The NALEO poll reveals that strong majorities of Latino voters in five key states believe that Republicans were not making or were not interested in making an effort to reach the Latino community.
One major conclusion of the Hispanic Federation/League of United Latin American Citizens poll is that Latino voters feel that their community is “under attack.” So the party leading that systematic attack — from Arizona , to Virginia , to revising the 14th Amendment — should not think you can just come back in the next election wearing a different face, as if nothing happened..
On immigration, Republicans are choosing to trade sound national policy for cheap political points. Yet they are sacrificing more than that. If they continue, they are likely to receive little support from Latinos not just this year but for many elections to come.
Rather than trying to win hearts and minds, Republicans have chosen to scapegoat the Latino community in hopes of energizing their base.
The real question is whether the GOP realizes the cost of its actions. The party is mortgaging its future. Republicans’ tunnel-vision focus on 2010 could mean they're flirting with permanent minority status.
Janet Murguia is the president and chief executive officer of the National Council of La Raza, the largest U.S. Latino civil rights and advocacy organization.
Politico.com © 2010 Capitol News Company, LLC
Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H. S. Power and Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA - TV Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; as the Manager of Public Safety for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972. He serves on the Executive Council for the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.