Frustrated Latino Voters Consider Tequila Party

Kinda like the Tea Party. But not really.

By Julianne Hing Dec 02, 2010

Latino voters frustrated with Democrats’ inaction on issues important to their community are thinking about striking out on their own and starting the Tequila Party, the Las Vegas Sun reported this weekend. Get it? Tea Party for the ultra-right white folks…Tequila Party for the Latinos! It’s got a cute–if potentially offensive–name, but little more at this point.

One thing’s for certain. Latino voters are not interested in being taken for granted by Democrats. The Las Vegas Sun reported this Sunday:

Latino Democrats, on the other hand, wonder if their support is taken for granted. They express frustration and anger at the lack of movement on immigration and education reform in Washington. They bristle at being underrepresented in the state Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee. Community organizers complain they are recognized only near the end of campaigns, when polls are tight and their votes are needed.

"There’s a feeling that Democrats aren’t listening," said Louis DeSipio, a Chicano studies and political science professor at the University of California, Irvine.

And while it’s true that Latino voters came through for Democrats in key West Coast races back in November, they’re not interested in hanging around for a party that keeps capitulating on issues like immigration, jobs and education that they say are most important to them.

"I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but there’s talk," Fernando Romero, president of the nonpartisan Nevada group Hispanics in Politics told the Las Vegas Sun. "There’s discussion about empowerment of the Latino vote."

Keep pushing Democrats or break away on their own? It’s a tough question, complicated by the fact that Latinos are not a monolithic group. Latino voters in Nevada and California backed Democrats in the midterm elections, but they also passed over Democrat Alex Sink in favor of Republican Rick Scott in Florida. And there’s the tricky case of Tea Party Republican Marco Rubio.

And leveraging Latino voter frustration into a political group whose values are uncertain but which might increase civic engagement seems like it could never hurt anyone. Except good-humored chatter about forming a Latino-based Tequila Party ignoring the fact that the Tea Party is not a grassroots movement. It’s the ultra-right faction of a pre-existing political powerhouse–the Republican Party–that’s flush with cash and supported by deep connections.

So who knows where the Tequila Party will be headed. But at least they’ve already got a good name picked out for themselves.