August 22, 2003

Assumption of Hispanic Support of Bustamante Is Misplaced

A campaign based on government largess to remedy perceived racial grievances may fall flat

by Carlos Ortega

California Political Review — A recent NBC News/New York Times national poll of Hispanics appears to undermine Democrat hopes that, if the Gray Davis recall passes, California’s Hispanic electorate can be counted on to support Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, insuring that the governorship stays Democrat.

The Democrat strategy assumes Hispanics will identify with and vote for Mr. Bustamante’s political rhetoric on racial inequality and his advocacy of state-sponsored largess as the way to right perceived or real grievances.

Democrats believe Hispanics, prompted by feelings similar to those felt by many black Americans who found a source of racial pride in Rev. Jesse Jackson’s presidential candidacies, will shoehorn Mr. Bustamante into the governorship. But Hispanics may prove unwilling to play the alienated, angry black-American here.

Besides Hispanics’ very low voter-turnout history in California, only 36 percent of non- black Hispanics, according to last week’s NBC News/New York Times national poll, feel they have ever been discriminated against on the basis of the color of their skin or ethnicity.

Among Hispanic immigrants — whom many leftist Hispanics cite to justify the moral legitimacy of policies they advocate — 83 percent think their children’s future will be even better than their own. The argument that they say this because they think they have hit bottom and can only go up, is not supported by the poll’s finding that 66 percent believe the best part about living in the United States is the economic improvement in their lives.

More troubling still for Mr. Bustamante is that Hispanic voters, by more than 60 percent, supported the California initiative that declared marriage solely a union between a man and a woman. Lt. Gov. Bustamante has been a staunch ally of the homosexual lobby, especially in supporting sex education classes that present homosexuality to minors as a laudable alternative to heterosexuality.

If made known to Hispanics, this record could alienate him from the very group he relies upon for victory. Republicans might spare Mr. Bustamante this trouble, however, if their leading candidate shares the Lt. Governor’s views in this debate.

Carlos Ortega is News and Public Affairs Director for the 22 Spanish-language radio stations of the Radio Nueva Vida Network in California.

Return to the Frontpage