The nomination and confirmation of Sotomayor marked a turning point for the clout of the Latino vote.
Much has been said about the nomination and confirmation of now-Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Much of the analsys has been focused on the fact that she was the first Latina to EVER be nominated to the Supreme Court in the entire history of the United States. Nevetheless, surprisingly little has been said about just how monumental a turning point her ascent to the Supreme Court was in terms of what it represents for the growing clout of the Latino vote.
Perhaps for the first time, politicians (especially Republicans) who would otherwise not hesitate to oppose her based on her ethnicity and on the fact that she was nominated by a Democrat-President Obama, were forced to be extremely careful about what they said on Sotomayor’s qualification because they were afraid that they might alienate Latinos. They were afraid of losing the Latino vote, and they had good reason to be afraid. Key battle ground states like Arizona, Texas, Nevada, and others, which are currently under Republican control, have an ever-increasing Latino population that can vote and in fact will be voting. Americans in general are said to have very short-term memories. This is something that is different culturally with Latinos. Latinos tend to remember the past for a LONG time, and they do tend to base their future voting decisions based on their memories (if you still doubt this, just remember how Latinos overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton in the primaries based on their loyalty to President Bill Clinton). Just ask a Latino about the U.S.’s undercover paramilitary operations to control Latin America’s affairs, and you’ll be sure to get an earful on things that happened 20, 30, or even 50 years ago and beyond.
Nevertheless, an interesting schizophrenic dynamic developed inside of the massive conservative machine throughout the Sotomayor saga. While Republican senators were careful in measuring their comments against Sotomayor in fear of offending Latinos, it seems that the extremist wing of the Republican party just could not help itself. Instead of acting in favor of their political benefit, they chose to launch a vile campaign tainted with vicious and sexist attacks to descredit Sotomayor and bully other Senators into voting against her. The twisted propaganda unsurprisingly gained much traction and dominated the coverage of her confirmation in the corporate media, cowardly lurking under the cloak of “reverse discrimination“. I say “unsurprisingly” because this was not an isolated incident: the conservative media has displayed a disturbing pattern of promoting hate against Latinos. Even from the time before Sotomayor was nominated, powerful conservative interests knew that it would be political suicide to attack Sotomayor but still, because of their racist tendencies, they could not help themselves and chose to go after her with unbridled hate.
In the meantime, other powerful Republicans chose to stand in the sidelines and remain silent, perhaps thinking that by doing so they would be sidestepping Latino anger. Yet, this might have proven to be a political mistake in and of itself. After all, silence many times represents a tacit approval of what is going on and therefore shows complicity to the wrongdoing; it’s a sign of cowardice to stand up for what is right. Take Sarah Palin, for example: I still think she missed a key opportunity to advance her chances to be the Republican Presidential nominee next time around because she hurt herself by remaining silent on defending Sotomayor while all the sexist attacks were being flung at the Supreme Court Justice nominee. Should Palin have come out and castigated her Republican colleagues’ attacks on Sotomayor, she would have come out as the good guy, boosting her stance with Latinos. This would have been a clever and timely strategy, being that her major obstacle to a future Presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich, went after Sotomayor and thereby virtually tarnished his chances of ever winning the Presidency because of his racist comments against Latinos. Moreover, Palin would have repaired her overall image with mainstream America, being that she is currently an extremly polarizing figure who is loved by the extreme wing of her party but is quite toxic for everyone else’s taste.
In the end, the situation became a lose-lose situation for Republicans: Sotomayor was confirmed and the consequences of conservatives’ unfettered hate seem to have started. A new poll is out that shows that Republicans’ unwarranted attacks on Sotomayor DID actually enrage many Latinos. The damage is done, and defying logic, the Republicans continue to shoot themselves in the foot by now siding with and riling up their ever-shrinking old guard of racist supporters, thereby completely undoing the gains that former President W. Bush had smartly made with Latino voters. I’ve been blogging about how the conservatives have been spreading lies about the current healthcare reform debate by shamelessly claiming that it would cover “40 million illegal aliens“, while ignoring the greedy insurance companies’ CEO’s obscene behavior.
Yet, what conservatives didn’t anticipate is that Latinos would start to mobilize to fight the right-wingers’ dirty tactics at the townhalls. Conservatives have enraged the Latino community with the incendiary speech that right-wingers use against Latinos at the current townhalls on healthcare, further eroding support for the Republican party among Latinos. It has become quite clear that the conservatives’ angry reactionary shouts full of racial and violent slurs have nothing to do with a healthcare reform that would care for the sick but rather are nothing more than people being afraid of their owns shadows, refusing to accept the fact that America is no longer a white-only elitist patriarchy with “white-only” drinking fountains. Right-wingers may deny that their reactions are based on bigotry and fear, but their actions speak otherwise. They are desperately hanging on to a racially segregated past, while the rest of us are moving towards a more inclusive mindset. As President Clinton explained best at the recent Netroots Nation conference in Pittsburgh “we are growing more diverse … more orientated psychologically to communitarian solutions”:
Mark my words, the Republicans need to wake up to the fact that Latinos will NOT tolerate their racist tactics anymore, that they will NOT be their whipping boy anymore. If they don’t wake up to that fact, Latinos will wipe Republicans off of the electoral map, just like the Latino electorate did in the wake of California’s governor Pete Wilson’s inhuman anti-immigrant Proposition 187.