Friday, August 10, 2012

Democracy at work

Latino vote-low participation??.jpg
Democrats don't want to see more headlines like this!

What do you do when you are a candidate for office and want people to vote for you? You find out what your potential constituents care about -- and push for it. And then push some more and claim credit for it.

This seems to be what some Democratic Senate candidates are currently attempting.

With Latinos poised to play a major role in the 2012 elections, Democratic Senate candidates in the Southwest are following suit — urging the national party to add the DREAM Act to its national platform. Senate hopefuls Rep. Martin Heinrich in New Mexico, Rep. Shelley Berkley in Nevada and Richard Carmona in Arizona are leading the charge.

The DREAM Act passed the Democratic-led House in 2010, but died in the Senate. Despite widespread support for the measure among Democrats, the DREAM Act has never been on the party’s platform. In 2008, the party called simply for “comprehensive, not piecemeal” immigration reform. This time, the platform drafters are strongly considering adding the DREAM Act. …

Putting the DREAM Act in the party platform would draw a bright line between the two parties and could forces Mitt Romney to discuss his vague position on immigration reform. A typical Romney statement on his immigration plan: “I will address the problem of illegal immigration in a civil but resolute manner,” he told Latino elected officials in June.


These Senate candidates didn't invent the DREAM Act. This measure would provide a path to legalization and citizenship for young people who were brought into the country without documents as children. The initiative exists because of years of brave community organizing by the youth and their families themselves. There's nothing radical about it; the country needs more of the energy and zest for participation that characterizes these folks.

President Obama has endorsed the DREAM Act and moved toward implementing some of its provisions through an executive order. He needs Latino voters too.

Republicans want Latino voters, but the white supremacist passions of so many of their adherents drive away most Latinos who are not willing to serve as "talking dogs" -- freakish outsiders in a hostile environment. Being a token who defies your group's norms can sometimes get you a really fancy job -- just look at Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. But, especially for the community minded, that sort of alienation is not something most people are willing to take on. So until or unless Republicans make their peace with the aspirations of the growing Latino population, they'll continue to make Democrats of most Latinos.

This is popular democracy working itself out.

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