By Alex Gonzalez
One of main themes of the Republican convention in Tampa was the “we all are immigrants from someplace else”. Chris Christie spoke how he was the first generation of and Irish immigrant and Sicilian mother. Ann Romney claimed her immigrant grandparent came for Wales to Michigan to work as miner. Senator Thune (R-SD) told the story of his grandparent came through Ellis Island from Norway with his bother. Santorum too told the story of Italian immigrant father. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio recounted their parents’ emigration from Cuba in the 1950s. so the order from the RNC was all speakers had an immigrant story.
However, when Brain Sandoval and Susana Martinez spoke, they never spoke with eloquence about the journey their grandparent took from Mexico when they cross into the southwest. And this is sad thing because they could have embellished great story of the Mexican grandparent immigrant story and romanticize it the same way Christine, Ann Romney, Santorum, and the Cruz and Rubio did about Cuba.
And, is terrible idea to let some state that you are proud offspring of a first generation if Irish, Sicilian, Norway, Cuban or Jewish immigrants while others are not able not say that you are the proud grandson or granddaughter of Mexican immigrant. But, that it is exactly what happened in the convection with Brian Sandoval and Susana Martinez, and “Quico” Canseco; all sharing Mexican background of the grandparents from Mexico. It is wrong to deny Sandoval and Martinez the opportunity to claim their Mexican background while allowing other to state their ancestral country because it conveys the idea that it is acceptable to emigrate from nations like Ireland and Norway, but it is no acceptable to say that your grandparents were Mexican. I am not certain whether this was a self-imposed—I am not Mexican—decision that Martinez, Canseco and Sandoval did. But sadly, it only reinforces the notion that the Republican Party has an innate aversion to Mexican culture.
My colleague and I, in fact, made a bet and whether Martinez and Sandoval would make references to their Mexican background, and how Rubio would make references to his Cuban roots.
Sandoval made his immigrant story sounds generic “I am the grandson of Latino immigrant” but never saying that his grandfather was Mexican. Too, Susana Martinez told the story of little girl who grew up in border town (El Paso) but avoiding the fact that his grandparents came from Mexico.
Whether a self-imposed, or orders from the RNC, not to mention the Mexican ancestry, this is now becoming passé prejudice. In fact, young Mexican-Americans now embrace that identity. Too, as middle-Class Mexican-American become more affluent and culturally assertive—like Irish, Jewish and Cubans in asserting their background–they will embrace their ethnic identity even more. So politicians too will have to embrace it, or at least respect it, if they want to be elected.
Or maybe it was Martinez and Sandoval own assimilated middle-class insecurities about their background what really prevented from openly talking about their past. But it is cultural complex that they need to get over it if they really want to capitalize on the masses of Mexican-American in the Southwest. For example, Tomas Jimenez of Stanford wrote in his book Replenished Ethnicity: Mexican Americans that even though American society discriminated against the descendants of these early Mexican immigrants because of their ethnic origin, the children and grandchildren of these immigrants moved out of ethnically concentrated neighborhoods, joined the military, intermarried, and experienced socioeconomic Mobility and do not want to be called “minority’.
But Jimenez also points out that Mexican Americans everyday experiences reveal that their ethnic identity is connected to contemporary Mexican immigration in ways that make that identity simultaneously more beneficial and costly. Mexican immigrant provides the means by which Mexican Americans come to feel more positively attached to their ethnic roots. But it also provokes a predominating view of Mexicans as foreigners, making Mexican Americans seem like less a part of the U.S. mainstream than their social and economic integration. Too, third and fourth generations of Mexican-Americans feel cautious about their Mexican identity because it may treatment their middle-class status and assimilation. But even if Sandoval and Martinez felt that mention their Mexican grandparent experience may threaten their third-generation “middle-class” and assimilation status, not mentioning it puts the Republicans party at a disadvantage since the Latino masses of the Southwest all share a common Mexican-American experience.
The Mexican roots angle is exactly what the RNC needs in the southwest to win the White House. For example, what Real Clear Politics wrote that as observers point out, Sandoval is not fluent in Spanish? In his governor’s race, 84 percent of Hispanic voters backed Reid, while just 15 percent supported Sandoval, according to exit polling. But with his Mexican ancestry, Sandoval might appeal to a broader swath of the Latino electorate than Rubio, a Cuban-American.
Too, MICHAEL WARREN of the WeeklyStandard wrote something similar about the Mexican factor: Hispanic voters may not convert, in masses, to the GOP as Martinez did. But unlike other Latino Republican luminaries like Cuban-Americans Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, her Mexican-American, middle class background may connect to more Hispanics on a personal level.
In other word, the Latinos masses of the southwest are Mexican-Americans and Republican with the same background need to start using it Mexican factor to lure Latinos to the Republican Party.
So The RNC is ready to embrace, the “Jewish cause: even if they keep getting only 20% of Jewish voters, it needs to be ready to embrace the issues important to Mexican-Americans, and need to stop seeing the Mexican factor as positive image reinforce rather than negative connotation among Republicans—more Mexican American vote Republicans than Jewish voters.
Despite what the tight circle of friends and advisers that want to shield Romney from the emotional issues of immigration for Mexican-Americans, only Romney can persuade Mexican-Americans to vote for him; and only that way can garner the 40% Latinos vote, that is how Bush did it. Romney needs to go to border communities, get emotional about immigration and preach the Rio Grande Family Values. One of the main rules of politics candidates need to arouse voter with emotions, not only with empty rhetoric about economics. And Romney need to push back those who keep “acting stupid”, the same way W. Bush did.
Conversely, why do we have to have non-Mexican Republicans speak in defense undocumented immigrants while all Mexican-Americans Republicans stay quiet? This week many Republican leaders like Jon Huntsman, Jeb Bush and Mel Martinez argue that this is the perfect time to talk about immigration—based on economic needs. Thus, rather ordering Hispanic Republican not to talk immigration, and the Mexican factor, Romney need to embrace these emotional issues if he really wants becomes president. The economic Party policies alone will not woo Latinos. The party needs leaders that make voters feel comfortable and connect the emotions with the party views. Thus, it is essential that Romney himself to speak with voter, not his Hispanic Republicans.