Since 2016 there has been an ongoing narrative that the Latino vote was about to make a difference. It hasn’t and it won’t no matter what pundits believe. The problem is two-fold. First, the Latino vote is not monolithic. Second, Latinos are notorious for not voting. So why does this false narrative persist? Because the people arguing that the Latino vote will make a difference are not Latinos.
Therein lies the fundamental problem with Latinos in America. Everyone but Latinos speak for Latinos.
First a distinction needs to be made between native-born Latinos and recent immigrant Latinos. Both have different worldviews, and thus have different issues driving them. For recent immigrant Latinos, their worldview is of the immigration process. But for native-born Latinos, their most important issue is either healthcare, taxes, jobs or a combination of these issues.
Like most American taxpayers, native-born Latinos are driven by everyday problems of making a living. Thus, when they vote, their votes are reflective of the national agenda as opposed to the issues of immigration.
However, the most important thing to consider is that Latino cannot and should not be equated to race. Latino is a heritage or ethnicity, or better yet, a state of mind. There are White and Black Hispanics and even some Asian Latinos.
Note the following Twitter post that was making the rounds on social media. Notice how Hispanics are equated to race, instead of the ethnicity that we are.
When someone tries to equate the Black vote to the Latino vote they lose the argument because Latinos are not united by race.
But the debate rages on about the rising Latino vote influence.
The Bernie Sanders campaign was quick to say that the Latino vote delivered California to him. Yes, Latinos voted for Sanders over Biden and Warren in California. But lost in the Latino rhetoric is that according to the same data used to showcase the Latino vote, it was the Asian vote that overwhelmingly voted for Sanders.
Most poignant is the NBC Digital (represents several news outlets) news piece about the Latino vote yesterday. The news article argued that “in 15 Texas counties that are more than 70 percent Latino, Sanders won 30 percent of the Latinos votes, followed by Michael Bloomberg with 23.5 percent.”
The fact that Bloomberg scored such a high percentage of the so-called Latino vote demonstrates that Latinos are not Latino-issue voters, but rather traditional voters that vote along the same issues as other Americans. Biden, in the piece came in at 21%.
This matters when the fact that Bernie Sanders voted against immigration reform previously is pointed out. Of the three candidates, Bernie Sanders has a proven record of voting against immigrant reform thus pointing out that the Latino vote, when they vote, is about voting for the same issues as other American voters.
At best, the Latino vote is an additional vote, but one that votes along the same issues as other American voters. If the Latinos vote, it won’t be about immigration. It will be about healthcare and taxes.
Will Latinos make a difference in 2020?