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Latino voters should not be used as electoral pawns

Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012

Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 00:09


With less than 50 days until the presidential election, discrimination in America rears its ugly head as people are cast into voting blocks. 

As former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney attended a “Juntos con Romney” rally in Miami on Wednesday and chastised President Barack Obama for not helping the plight of Hispanics, airing ads running in Spanish, Obama continues to carry his “Si se puede” catchphrase with him across the country as he campaigns and also runs Spanish ads. 

As Romney and Obama vie to woo the votes of one of the most significant voting blocs — 23 million Hispanics are registered to vote according to the Pew Research Center — the politicians simply propagate divisiveness in society, singling out a group based on a sense of “otherness” — one that corrodes the purer-than-thou intentions of the candidates doting on these demographics.

The problem lies not in the attention being given to the Hispanic and Latino communities. Rather, it lies in the disingenuousness of the attention being given. 

Hispanics in America face real issues. But, like the rest of the Americans, Hispanic voters are a diverse stream of individuals from different social, cultural and economic backgrounds that cannot be lumped into one group. “Hispanic issues” are American issues, and American issues are Hispanic issues.

But if the candidates are genuinely concerned about particular pockets of the country’s population, they might care to take note of the median incomes for Hispanic Americans compared to white Americans. According to 2009 Pew Research Center data, the median white family earns 18 times that of the median Hispanic family. 

More sobering facts for those wanting to reside in the White House: According to a Latino Education Equity Report published in 2008, only 12.3 percent of Hispanic Americans have a college education or more and when that number is further examined, less than 9 percent of Mexican Americans and less than 8 percent of Salvadorian Americans have college education or more, compared to the 29.9 percent of white Americans who have that level of education.

According to the Centers for Disease and Control, Hispanics are less likely to be insured, more likely to have higher infant mortality and morbidity rates and be at a higher risk for diseases than whites. 

Cute-Spanish-phrases-in-mangled-accents aside, neither candidate has openly addressed the issues of inequality that have ravaged the country as the recession further sets back progress that may have once been made. 

Hispanic voters are not pawns in this election, and they shouldn’t be treated as such. 

As the candidates tour the country seeking minorities and other banks to put in their pockets, they should aim to increase their own awareness of issues facing minorities instead of aiming to increase minority awareness of themselves.

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