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Daniel Cubias

Daniel Cubias

Posted: September 3, 2008 04:51 PM

The Republican Pandering Isn't Going so Well with Latinos


In one of my previous posts ("Loving the Latino Voter"), I stated that the Democratic platform appeals to Hispanic voters more than the Republican one does. This apparently did not sit well with a GOP organization that excerpted my post on its site with the bitchy headline "Liberal argues that Hispanics vote for whichever candidate panders to them the most."

I posted a response on my blog stating, more or less, that one man's "pandering" is another man's "effective campaigning."

And then a few days later, McCain picked Palin to be his running mate, in what is surely one of the most obvious ploys to pick up a voting block (ie, pissed-off women) in modern history. So my point was proven almost immediately.

It remains to be seen if McCain's desperate appeal to women will pay off (although let's be honest, we all doubt that it will). But how is the pandering going with Latinos? Sadly for the GOP, it's very much a sputtering, stuttering work in progress.

To prove his Hispanic bone fides and urban cred (!), McCain recently picked up the endorsement of Puerto Rican rapper Daddy Yankee. It's an instant metaphor that the musician who boasts about throwing a "party de gangster" is now in the party de Republicans. Perhaps McCain thought the reggaeton star's insistence to "dame más gasolina" was support for the GOP's off-shore-drilling plan. Regardless, it is indeed surreal to watch Daddy Yankee slap McCain on the back and give him credit for not being a total right-wing nut on immigration.

It's times like these that I have to ask, "Whatever happened to Kid Frost, and does he support McCain's stance on capital-gains tax rates?"

In any case, the Republicans' complete befuddlement over Latino culture could hardly be clearer. I doubt, of course, that McCain ever heard of Daddy Yankee until about four minutes before the event. I further doubt whether the GOP vetters ever translated any of the rapper's more attention-grabbing lyrics. If they had, they would have realized that his preoccupation with sex and babes (oh so very rare among rappers) doesn't line up with the usual pro-family, moral-values, hey-all-you-kids-abstain-until-marriage tripe that conservatives usually try to project.

In fact, Daddy Yankee's lyrics don't exactly endear him to many Latinas. As one Hispanic woman commented to me, "Our community deserves a Hell of a lot more than a sexist rapper. Are we supposed to be impressed?"

Clearly, we are. But this frantic attempt to pull in a Latino celebrity looks to be the Republicans' extent of reaching out to young Hispanics. No doubt, they were also thrilled that they finally had snagged a musician who wasn't Ted Nugent.

Unfortunately for both the GOP and Daddy Yankee, this endorsement has only backfired. The dreaded "sell-out" label has been thrown the rapper's way, and his very status as an authentic Latino has been called into question. If one is to believe the YouTube comments accompanying the video (always a dubious gamble), Daddy Yankee has angered more than one vato by going Republican.

Of course, Daddy Yankee's political leanings don't cancel out his status as Hispanic. One would think that Latinos would avoid this type of baiting after seeing African Americans tear themselves apart over whether black Republicans were Uncle Toms or not. All that debate did was entrench people further into their ideological trenches and fray bonds among whole communities.

Still, Daddy Yankee finds himself in a very lonely place, and the McCain camp is all out of ways to prove that they are down with the barrio.

But it makes me wonder if the Republicans will go after Pitbull next. Personally, I see great potential in the choice of "Culo" as a theme song.