By Linda Vega
The “Conquistador” mentality is a mindset of “conquered people” that instills limitation and predisposes people into believing that government programs are the only way out of poverty and bad economies. But this is a misconception. Currently, U.S. Citizens are falling into the mindset of the “victim” mentality. It is no longer the “minority” groups who are feeling this self imposed “pity of thyself.” It has become a common theme of the economic classes, the have and have nots.
In the 1960s, redress programs caused damage to African-Americans over the long run according to studies. These policies of redress, emanating out of liberal “white guilt”, ultimately led to the establishment of a governmental system that served to dismantle the traditional African-American families and removed any notion of personal accountability. In his book, White Guilt, Shelby Steele, a conservative fellow at the Hoover Institute, argues that liberal politicians used government funded programs to reclaim their morality. The programs that what were supposed to be stepping blocks to economic independence instead became the crutch to many as a habit forming state of poverty. Programs such as SSI Benefits for the disabled, welfare, and even WIC programs have been so misused that they have created a co-dependency on the Federal Government. No longer do Citizens feel in control of their own destiny, but rather they feel that they are helpless to create a future for themselves in this country.
The Hispanic culture has long existed with this cultural limitation of the conquered group mentality. It has only been recently that the community has awakened to their economic and conservative strength. Prior to this period, however, Hispanics were held hostage by the limitations placed upon them with governmental programs and their own self imposed “pobrecito” mentality. However, Conservatives, namely the Republicans, have given Hispanics a guide and the realization that they can achieve great changes if Hispanics think big and rid themselves of these historical burdens.
Minority groups, like Hispanics, blame the system and they blame political parties. However, if they blame one political party, it gives credence to the opposite party to group that community as a victimized “needy minority.” Once Hispanic-Americans are socially categorized as a needy “minority,” their opportunities are limited to what they can achieve under that stigma. Moreover, they are confined to what the system will allow them to do within the direction of government welfare policies, as it was the case with African-Americans under the Great Society’s War on Poverty by the Lyndon B. Johnson administration, as Steele argues. Hence, there is nothing worse than a group, ethnic or not, to feel like a disfranchised minority whose only hope is the government.
Governor Perry dispels this argument. In fact, he has governed the state of Texas as a color blind leader. The goal, under his policies, has been to create a vivid and strong economy absent any coddling because of race or other “pobrecito” limitations. With nearly 14 million of unemployed in this country, Texas has enjoyed the creation of jobs. Although many argue that 38 states have families living below the poverty level, this is not the case in Texas. According to the US Census, for a single adult in 2009, the poverty line was $10,830 in pretax cash income; for a family of four, $22,050. In 2010, there were 44 millions of Americans below the poverty line, or 14% of the US population. The number of Hispanics in poverty increased from 23.2 percent to 25.3 percent; for blacks it increased from 24.7 percent to 25.8 percent. The number of whites in poverty rose from 8.6 percent to 9.4 percent. However, the main cause of poverty among for all these groups in the same, the lack of jobs. But if there is one thing in which conservative and liberal economists agree on is that the poor and unemployed are powerless, but they can only liberate themselves from poverty by having a job. And Texas has maintained this goal of creating jobs, even if they are low income jobs.
So jobs, whether they are low paying or are within the proper wage level, are an opportunity for freedom. They are, in effect, better than government dependency creating programs. Groups, especially unemployed groups with the feeling of the conquered long felt by minorities in this country, run the risk of becoming dependent on the Government as did many minorities in our country’s past. The media has displayed Governor Perry as creating low income paying jobs that hardly produce the stimulation needed for the economy. Yet, this argument is inconsistent with what is needed to stimulate the economy for additional growth. Jobs are a necessity. Any type of job at this point.
Thus, at this crucial point of our economic struggle, instead of feeling like “the conquered people”, as minorities have felt in this country, U.S. Citizens should recognize their own self-worth as a salient and self-reliant community; self-worth strengthens the character of individuals and their groups. We are looking for a Liberator from this Conquistador mentality. We are looking for a leader to show us how to become self sufficient and independent again; someone who has the character and strength of a Liberator. We are looking for that oasis in the desert and thus far, that someone is Governor Rick Perry.
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