NY Times: Democrats have a problem appealing to Latino men

This is music to my ears:

Erik Ortiz, a 41-year-old hip-hop music producer in Florida, grew up poor in the South Bronx, and spent much of his time as a young adult trying to establish himself financially. Now he considers himself rich. And he believes shaking off the politics of his youth had something to do with it.

“Everybody was a liberal Democrat — in my neighborhood, in the Bronx, in the local government,” said Mr. Ortiz, whose family is Black and from Puerto Rico. “The welfare state was bad for our people — the state became the father in the Black and brown household and that was a bad, bad mistake.” Mr. Ortiz became a Republican, drawn to messages of individual responsibility and lower taxes. To him, generations of poor people have stayed loyal to a Democratic Party that has failed to transform their lives.

“Why would I want to be stuck in that mentality?” he said.


I’ve written about the Democrats’ assumptions about demographic destiny before. Basically, the belief for a long time has been that once we become a “majority minority” country, Democrats will sweep ever election for perpetuity. But as Andrew Sullivan argued a couple weeks ago, that whole idea could turn out to be a fairy tale. In fact, he argues (based on a book called “The Great Demographic Illusion“) that it’s more likely Latinos will intermarry with white Americans to the point that they become one big demographic.

There is no reason, in other words, to believe that Latinos won’t be seen in 2060 the way Italian-Americans were seen in 1960, except that they will be assimilating into an off-white, brownish mainstream rather than a monolithically and stereotypically white one.

That possibility sends shivers down the spines of progressives and those on the far left who are committed to identity politics as their ticket to political paradise. And yet, as the NY Times points out, Donald Trump got a larger percentage of the Latino vote in 2020 than he did in 2016 (36% vs. 32%). And that shift is especially noticeable among men. Savor these next paragraphs:

Interviews with dozens of Hispanic men from across the country who voted Republican last year showed deep frustration with such presumptions, and rejected the idea that Latino men would instinctively support liberal candidates. These men challenged the notion that they were part of a minority ethnic group or demographic reliant on Democrats; many of them grew up in areas where Hispanics are the majority and are represented in government. And they said many Democrats did not understand how much Latino men identified with being a provider — earning enough money to support their families is central to the way they view both themselves and the political world.

Like any voter, these men are also driven by their opinions on a variety of issues: Many mention their anti-abortion views, support for gun rights and strict immigration policies. They have watched their friends and relatives go to western Texas to work the oil fields, and worry that new environmental regulations will wipe out the industry there. Still, most say their favorable view of Republicans stems from economic concerns, a desire for low taxes and few regulations. They say they want to support the party they believe will allow them to work and become wealthy…

“Democrats have lots of real reasons they should be worried,” said Joshua Ulibarri, a Democratic strategist who has researched Hispanic men for years. “We haven’t figured out a way to speak to them, to say that we have something for them, that we understand them. They look at us and say: We believe we work harder, we want the opportunity to build something of our own, and why should we punish people who do well?”


The Democratic party has a substantial portion of its base that wants Bernie Sanders and the Squad to be in charge. But that stuff is not going to fly with a lot of Latinos who, for one thing, don’t like being called Latinx. This was a point that Matt Yglesias made last year before he left Vox:

The word originates in academic and activist circles, having been coined in 2004 and only gaining popularity about 10 years later. The term is meant to solve two problems. One is that the Spanish language uses the masculine term “Latino” to refer not just to men but also to mixed-gender groups, implying a kind of problematic privileging of the male gender. The other is that the binary nature of grammatical gender — Latino men and Latina women — is a poor fit for the needs and lives of nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people. In academic and activist circles, “Latinx” suggests itself as an elegant gender-neutral solution.

The message of the term, however, is that the entire grammatical system of the Spanish language is problematic, which in any other context progressives would recognize as an alienating and insensitive message.

It’s a trivial example but it demonstrates how the left keeps trying to force Latinos into a box that many just aren’t comfortable with. Assuming they’ll get comfortable over time is contrary to the actual numbers we’re seeing. Rather than become a captive voting block like Black Americans, Latinos may be in the midst of breaking with the Democratic Party, at least to a degree that Democrats are forced to compete for their votes by moderating their message a bit. And God help the Democrats if a slim majority of Latinos settle down in the Republican party.


A number of the comments from upset Democrats sound like this from someone in California:

They are voting against their own interests then.

Want financial stability? How about a living wage? Want lower taxes? How about a return to the more progressive tax system like we had in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s? Want to provide for your family? How about more universal healthcare? The list is long and it favors the Democrats to bring humanity back to government.

But an immigrant saw a lot he agreed with in the article. He wasn’t responding to the guy above but he could have been.

I’m neither Hispanic nor Republican, but I am an immigrant and naturalized US citizen. I can see where these men are coming from.

Progressives tend to assume that people who look the same think the same. On immigration, for example, they assume that all Hispanic Americans favor policies that encourage pathways to citizenship for people here illegally. It never seems to occur to them that the immigrants who played by the rules might resent favorable treatment for people who cut the line.

We might not like the political party they align with, but it would be a huge mistake to assume the men profiled in this article are just lacking in empathy, or are ignorant, or worse.

One thing we can probably count on at this point, Democrats won’t learn until it’s too late.


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