By reelecting President Barack Obama, American Latinos graduated as a community. Their dissertation was a decisive demonstration of the power of their collective will.
However you may feel about the results of Election Day, it is clear that Latinos were instrumental, fundamental, and decisive in putting President Barack Obama back in the White House.
The consensus of the exit polls indicate that 70 percent of the “Latino Vote” went for the president, which represents a three-point net gain from the 67 percent that went for Mr. Obama four years ago. It is true that the African American and Asian communities delivered as well, but those two groups haven’t grown anywhere near as much as Latinos did over the last four years.
The effect of the Latino tsunami, or Maremoto as we call it in Spanish, goes way beyond presidential politics and has affected several congressional races and ballot initiatives. Remarkable among the latter is the Maryland Dream Act, which will allow undocumented students to pay for their tuition at in-state rates which provides a substantial and much needed savings. The Latino vote’s influence has grown so much that San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro said in an interview he expects Texas to be fully competitive for the Democratic Party by 2020. That is assuming that the Latino vote remains overwhelmingly democratic for which the Dems will have to work hard and make good on their promises to us.
We also saw a rejection of the divisive speck certain sectors of the Republican Party were throwing around during the campaign. They will have to do some extensive soul searching to find effective ways to reach Latinos from here on out. For that, however, the GOP will need to change its position on immigration and tone down or eliminate their rhetoric about our community. A successful Obama second term would make this task easier, as the GOP base would probably be more open to diversity in the environment of a prosperous economy. Nothing calms fears as much as money in our pockets.
Maybe one of the most definitive lessons of the 2012 election was that the Latino vote can be instrumental in defeating the pernicious influence of anonymous money in the electoral process. The Pro-Democratic super PAC Priorities USA Action was outspent by the Pro-Republican Super PACs by a whopping $260 million with little to show for it. And that is thanks to the willpower of the Latino Community. Maybe it was that the Supreme Court forgot to say in their infamous Citizens United decision that even though money is now speech, that speech is not in Spanish.
And then again, maybe not even that would have worked. Anyway you see it, Latinos in America have a lot to celebrate. November 6, 2012 was after all, Graduation Night.
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