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Daniel Cubias

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Why Are There So Few Latino Libertarians?

Posted: 05/29/2012 7:41 am

As everyone knows, the Republican Party is in serious trouble with Latinos. If Mitt Romney gets any less popular with Hispanics, he'll disappear from their consciousness altogether.

The reasons for Latinos' antipathy toward the GOP include the endless insults that Republicans have lobbed at Hispanics, along with the fact that Latinos are not as socially conservative as people think.

Still, one would think more Hispanics would embrace that offshoot of conservative thought known as libertarianism. This philosophy, which holds that the individual is the basic unit of society and must be subject to as little governmental influence as possible, should really resonate with people who have roots in lands where the government crushes all free thought. It should also appeal to people who often have to pull themselves up from their bootstraps (to use a favorite conservative cliché) and start over in a new country.

But that hasn't happened. Currently, libertarians "are largely white, well-educated, and affluent." One could even say that "libertarians are mostly rich young white guys who, compared to most other Americans, live comfortable and financially secure lives."

Of course, there are Latino libertarians out there. But in general, talking Hispanics into espousing the Ron Paul agenda is only slightly easier than getting the pope to show up at the Stonewall Inn for a drink.

Libertarianism is still overwhelmingly the privilege of white men, who have a cultural advantage over other groups, regardless of what economic class they were born into. As such, they may believe they have achieved success solely through their own initiative. They may be blind to all the help they received, especially if their consciences are clear and they never discriminate against other ethnicities. They are certain they can do anything they set their minds to, because quite frankly, they often have done so (with society's help, of course).

However, this mindset blinds them to the fact that certain things -- and this is un-American to say -- are beyond their individual control. These can range from sudden health issues to global economic upheavals. They can also include the fact that the game is rigged to benefit the rich and that people's freewill decisions can be manipulated more easily than you think.

Perhaps Latinos, with our cultural baggage of Catholic fatalism and dictatorial governments, are more likely to know that a single person does not have unlimited power. Or maybe our emphasis on family provokes us to think beyond our individual needs. Or perhaps we realize that, despite a work ethic second to none, ceaseless labor and ambition are not always sufficient to get a person ahead in life.

Or maybe it comes down to the possibility that it's very easy to demand a libertarian system when one has gotten a good start in life and reaps the benefits of being on top of the socioeconomic pyramid. It's less common to advocate for that when you're still trying to claw your way upward.

In any case, I'm sure that if she had it to do all over again, Ayn Rand would have included at least one plucky Chicano objectivist named Hernandez in Atlas Shrugged.

Talk about a missed opportunity.

 
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