May 31, 2005


Hispanics arriving as a political force (RUBEN NAVARRETTE JR., May 29, 2005, THE UNION-TRIBUNE)

[A] lot of people are saying that Hispanics have finally arrived. They serve in the top tier of the Bush administration – among them, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Surgeon General Richard Carmona, Treasurer Anna Cabral and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. And the prospect of a Hispanic on the Supreme Court seems closer than ever, especially if President Bush sticks to his promise to put one there before he leaves Washington. [...]

Look at what happened in Los Angeles, a city that is now more than 47 percent Hispanic and where Hispanics outnumber every other ethnic group. Antonio Villaraigosa is soon to be sworn in as the first Hispanic mayor of the city in 133 years.

Given that this is the nation's second-largest city we're talking about, that means the 52-year-old former Assembly speaker has just arrived on the A-list of Hispanic political talent.

For Villaraigosa, who defeated incumbent Mayor James K. Hahn, getting there was half the fun. The candidate pulled together an impressive coalition of blacks, Jews, labor and progressive whites. That was an improvement over Villaraigosa's failed bid for the same office four years ago, when a black minister famously joked that African-Americans shouldn't vote for "someone whose name they can't pronounce." This time around, Villaraigosa got half the black vote.

But it was Hispanics who made the difference. The mayor-elect walked off with 84 percent of their vote. That added up in a hurry, given that Hispanics accounted for one in four votes cast.

Note to Democrats: This is the same group of voters that your party complains doesn't turn out often enough.

Democrats miss the point. It's not that Hispanics don't care enough to vote. It is that they don't care to vote for white liberals who take their votes for granted. Democratic Party leaders should look toward Los Angeles and take note. The party of John F. Kennedy had better get used to running more candidates like Villaraigosa – or get used to coming in second.

And blacks to being marginal in both parties.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 31, 2005 1:02 PM

A perceptive conclusion as to the marginality of Blacks, who heretofore have been thinking of themselves as the vanguard of a minority majority. The idea had been that Blacks would continue as senior partners of a grand coalition of everybody else agaist the Whites.

This racist abomination never had much of a chance. You used to see the notion that Black culture deserved equal time with mainstream culture, instead of 18& time. The continuation of the present trend to its logical conclusion--Blacks becoming White--is going to be beneficial for everyone.

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 31, 2005 8:03 PM

Not much of a shock that people vote for those within their community, and thus know what issues affect them.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at June 1, 2005 12:11 PM