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Latinos and the 2012 Election

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There are plenty of reasons why Latinos need to come out and vote in large numbers today. In 2008, about 10 million Latinos came out to vote. Some are hoping that with over 20 million eligible Latino voters, that the turn out can be increased to 12 million. Some national organizations, like LULAC, NALEO, the National Council of La Raza, and even Spanish-language television networks are taking additional steps to encourage Latinos to come out and vote.

Latinos have a lot at stake this election cycle. In 2008, over 67 percent supported Barack Obama. For some time now Latinos have found comfort within the Democratic Party. When it became clear that immigration reform wasn't taking place during the Obama presidency, many Latinos started looking for an alternative candidate to support. Many Latinos carefully watched the Republican Primary tossing game. As the game went on, and the lead was held by different candidates, Latinos were left with an unpleasant taste. Whether it was that Puerto Rico should only earn statehood if they made English their main language, or the more radical notion of self-deportation for immigrants, the Republican Primary was hardly an attractive marketing propaganda for Latinos watching the saga unfold. Throughout the Republican Primary, the game was which candidate could exhibit greater conservative values. Latinos are no strangers to conservative values; most believe in marriage and religion, so naturally they thought there may be an opportunity for affinity with the Republican Party. But most weren't expecting the extreme views displayed throughout the Republican Primary.

The Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, is now having a hard time finding support in the Latino community. He was amongst the more vocal primary candidates that spoke against issues that are important to Latino voters. Throughout the Republican Primary, he'd said a few times that he would veto the DREAM Act, doesn't believe there is need for immigration reform, and agrees that a national employment ID verification system should be put in place to make it impossible for undocumented people to obtain employment and force them to self-deport. He believes the federal government should stay away from implementing health reform laws, and that the states should deal with this; something the states have been doing ineffectively for a long time, and the reason why the federal government is stepping in. He also believes many social programs, many of which benefit Latinos, or agencies that provide social services, like FEMA, shouldn't exist.

Now that the election appears to be very close, Mitt Romney is trying to convince Latino voters that he is not as radical as he sounded during the Republican Primary. But he is still not making any commitments or promises to Latino voters, instead his TV ads are concentrating on telling Latinos what President Barack Obama has not done for Latinos, immigration reform, and what the president has done to them, deport many Latinos. On one Romney campaign ad, run in the Spanish-language networks, a lady comes out against President Obama saying "Enough! Look what this president has done to our people, deporting them," and "he is asking our church to go against our belief by forcing them to go against our morals," the lady continues. What ads for the Romney campaign are not doing is addressing what Mitt Romney will do with 11 million undocumented people in the US, or the future of young people that are now protected with a temporary DREAM Act. The only thing on record about these issues is the adverse position we heard him take during the Republican Primary.

Noting that Latinos/Hispanics are not a monolithic group, as many like to say now, we should expect some Latinos to not give a hoot about immigration reform, or the kids that benefit from the DREAM Act, or health reform and the other social programs that generally benefit Latinos. But by and large it should be expected that most Latinos will care about these key issues that impact most Latino families in the U.S. One can only hope that if Latinos come out in large numbers to vote, and massively support a successful re-election of President Obama, that the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan will see this as an opportunity to "tear down that wall."