Are They Really New “Hispanic Leaders”? Another Take on the Last Election

Over at, Miguel Perez has a very important analytical piece on the new supposed Hispanic “Republican leaders” who won in this last election. He argues they are Hispanic, and elected, but they are not really Hispanic leaders–because for the most part they were elected by non-Latinos and a majority of Latino voters voted against them:

If they have vowed to follow conservative Republican/tea party agendas that are clearly anti-Hispanic, can we really call them Latino leaders just because they have Hispanic surnames? . . . no one calls Clarence Thomas an African-American leader, because that Supreme Court justice is known to stand against his own people on many issues.

These often Tea Party oriented Hispanics want to move backwards, he argues, on civil rights and related issues, so how could a majority of Hispanic voters be expected to endorse them. He gives some interesting statistics:

In most of the top races across the country, among Latino voters Democrats beat Republicans by nearly a 2-1 margin. Only in Florida, where Cuban-Americans traditionally favor Republicans, were some GOP candidates able to surpass Democrats among Latinos. In many races in which the Republican winner was a Latino … the majority of the Hispanic vote went for the Democrat. It happened in New Mexico, where Republican and immigration hard-liner Susana Martinez was elected governor … without the majority of the Hispanic vote. It happened in Nevada, where Brian Sandoval — another anti-immigrant advocate — became the first Latino governor, without the majority of the Hispanic vote. And it happened in various congressional races in which Latino Republican candidates sold their souls to the racist and xenophobic anti-immigrant movement just to get elected.

Most Latino voters, he argues, know that Spanish surnames are not enough, and they know that stereotyping Latino immigrants is attacking their families or communities. The impact, he suggests, may have been enough to keep the U.S. Senate Democratic, because Latinos gave 65 percent of their votes to the wining Democratic candidate in California. Some 81 percent favored the Democratic candidate in Colorado, with 68 percent also going for Reid in Nevada.


  1. Blaque Swan, previously No1KState

    African Americans are dealing with this too, with Obama, Patrick Deval, Cory Booker and others. We don’t consider them leaders of, ie “black America,” either. But at least they don’t support policies in direct opposition to our interests.

    It must be that the Latinos in question don’t see imagine themselves having a linked-fate with the larger Latin community. I imagine they don’t view the world through a “minority racial” lens and actually believe the nonsense that anyone can become anything if they work hard enough. Perhaps they’re character-orientated.

    What I fail to understand is how anyone can seriously believe in American individualism. But that’s a bit off-topic.

  2. Mel

    Upon reading this post, I find myself quite torn between two objecting points.

    When written, “He argues they are Hispanic, and elected, but they are not really Hispanic leaders–because for the most part they were elected by non-Latinos and a majority of Latino voters voted against them,” I was really taken aback by the actual fact-of-the matter of this particular statement. Never have I ever taken into account what makes an elected official the leader of a specific demographic.

    Although in this context it makes much sense, I can’t help but ask myself how circumstances may be different had this been an issue with something other than race; i.e. gender or sexual preference.

    If a gay man wants to run for any position in office and is gets the majority of his votes from the gay community itself, does that make him leader of solely the homosexual population? What if his votes came from mostly heterosexual individuals? Would the fact that he’s a Gay man still be taken into account while holding office?

    The writer raises some great points in the text. I just feel a bit swayed on this particular topic being that I feel you cannot simply undermine what makes one who they are. Yes, you shine light on the fact that these leaders, in particular, sre Hispanic and elected, but I’m sure that to be in such a position of power, one must overcome certain stages in self-identity which may influence a lot of their decision-making which must be acknowledged, too. Therefore, in a sense, still making them Hispanic leaders.

    I apologize for the lack of better wording or explaining my thoughts. I hope I haven’t caused too much confusion.

    • Blaque Swan, previously No1KState

      They’re not Hispanic leaders in the sense that they don’t promote and/or support causes important to the Latin community. Are they political leaders to the extent that they’re elected officials? Yeah. But we’re talking about two different things. That is, being an elected official and a leader of a particular racial/gender group are two different things.

      Ie, let’s say a woman,lets call her Jo, believes married women shouldn’t own property, that they should stay home with the kids, etc. She runs for public office and wins, though overwhelmingly her support came from men not women. Right? You wouldn’t call Jo a feminist leader just because she’s a woman.

      Another difference we have to take into account is that of self-identity and worldview. Sure Jo identifies as a woman. However, she obviously has a drastically different view of women’s place in society. Right? So these Latin leaders could very well self-ID as Latin, but their political views are in drastic opposition to the views of the larger Latin community.

      So, we’re talking about a public leader who’s Latin and a leader of the Latin community.

  3. Joe

    Hi, Mel, thanks for the good comments. they raise several good questions about who really is the ‘leader’ of any particular group. I think one major issue here is why the media decide someone is a ‘leader’ who a majority of the group votes against them in numerous settings. Whatever they are, they are not ‘leaders’ of their own group if they and their views are often rejected by the group. also, I suspect/speculate many of those named ‘leaders’ by the mainstream media for their groups are named as such because the usually white-run media like the fact they will ‘sell out’ their own groups. Or maybe they are just unreflective about underlying realities?


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