Last week I received an email from a key Democrat friend in Washington, D.C. It showed a turtle on a pole in the middle of the desert. The message said that the turtle had no idea how it got there; it didn't know why it was there or how it would get down from the pole. It then referenced Barack Obama and how as "friends" of the turtle, the only thing to do was to help the turtle "descend" from the pole -- a subliminal message I quickly understood. But the intriguing part for me was the motive behind a key Latino Democrat for sending out this note to his list of emails.
We know that in 2008 a record number of Latinos came out and voted in the general election, over 10 million, with over 67 percent of those votes going for the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. Since Barack Obama assumed the presidency, we have seen many accomplishments from his administration, but it appears that for the Latino voters, these accomplishments don't add up to much.
Recent data by the Latino Decision's Weekly Poll, a poll that tracks issues that Latinos rank important to them, shows the top three issues to be: the economy, immigration, and jobs. Most economic indicators, interest rates, inflation and housing stats have seen little to no change in the past three years, nothing has been done to address the 11-13 million estimated undocumented people living in the U.S., and while some jobs have been created, the pace trailed new entrants to the unemployed market, where the rate is at 9.1 percent.
But are Latinos ready to give way to the conservative movement of the Republicans and the Tea Party? A movement that includes almost total alienation of Latino voters and a wave of anti-immigrant measures tougher than anything this country has ever seen, pushed almost entirely by Conservatives?
Key Latino leaders and organizations have been outspoken about the Obama Administration, as have been black leaders and organizations. Much of their threat, up to now, has focused on calling on their constituency for possible voter abstention, as opposed to calling on them to vote Republican. The Lockbox Campaign, for example, is a united effort by a few organizations, that is lining up over 2 million Latino voters to potentially call on them to not vote, should they see no change in the Obama Administration's policy towards immigrants.
There may be some time left for Democrats to solidify the Latino vote, a voting bloc that has historically voted Democrat, and voted 2 to 1 for Barack Obama in the 2008 general election. But with about six months left for the Democratic Primary, and just over a year for the general election, many doubt any significant changes will take place from a President that needs to put as much time running the country as he does running a campaign. What is clear though is that Latinos, like other minorities, are not ready to offer a blank check to the Democratic Party or Barack Obama.