Is Obama Taking The Latino Vote for Granted? And Should We Vote For Him Anyway? [Reader Forum]

Obama's got a terrible record on deportations, but thinks that Republicans have done worse for Latinos. Is he right? readers discuss.

By Nia King Oct 29, 2012

Since the beginning of the debates, the election has taken on a bit of a "tortoise and the hare" feel. Many of us tuned in to the first debate expecting to see Obama beating Romney by leaps and bounds, wooing voters with the superior intellect and charisma that won him the 2008 election. Instead, both conservatives and liberals agree he "phoned it in," looking as if staying awake was all the effort he could muster.

This week Obama again displayed a startlingly hare-like degree of overconfidence with his "off the record" remarks about Latino voters. Talking to a reporter at the Des Moines Register, he claimed, "Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community." And the GOP has certainly fumbled during this election cycle, from Romney saying it would be easier for him to win the election if he were Latino, to Latino voter suppression throughout the Southwest.

However, Latino voters may not be as solidly pro-Obama as he would like to think. He has deported more people than any president in American history. In the debates, he referred to some undocumented immigrants as "gangbangers." Many college-bound Latinos see his compromised work on deferred action as belying his stated support for the DREAM Act — and in general, Latinos say they’re less likely to vote at all. Romney’s "slow and steady wins the race" approach has served him well enough that the candidates are, in some polls, neck and neck.

Could Obama’s assumption he has the Latino vote in the bag cost him the election? How should Latino voters and allies hold Obama accountable, while keeping in mind that the alternative is as bad or worse? Here’s what you had to say.

Revo Mendez:

As a Latino, I’m certainly not thrilled with Barack Obama either. With him basically stating that we have no choice is not an indictment on his rival, but an indictment on American democracy period. I’m under no illusion that Barack Obama has been a GRAND deporter. This silly liberal narrative that he has only deported criminals is also untrue. A man who employs drone strikes killing thousands of brown people in the Middle East has no room to title someone a criminal. He’s not a hero of Latino people. He will MAYBE hurt us less than a potential Romney presidency but I am certainly not going to roll out my best cartwheel for him and his center right policies. Hey, Jill Stein.

Danette Allrich Osano:

Our president was stating the fact that the GOP not only does not care about the Latino vote, they continually alienate them at every turn. Look at Arizona, where they are purposely misleading Spanish speaking people by putting up info giving the wrong voting date.

Revo Mendez again:

Let’s be completely honest here: Barack Obama hasn’t laid any substantive ground work to be dubbed the "Latino candidate." Colorlines contextualized his hypocritical rhetoric. The republicans have alienated Latino people? This is a man who has deported more Latinos than George Bush. And he wants us to fear the big Republican iron fist? He’s spent his entire term dealing with the "White Whine." Fixing white people’s problems, Wall Street problems. Being incredibly oppressive abroad as well. There are a LOT of Latinos living in poverty in this country and poverty is a word this president rarely uses. In fact, out of the three shit show debates the first candidate to mention that "P" word was Romney. We are looking at the SAME gentleman here.

Shawn Sinc:

That’s EXACTLY what he said. "You can’t vote for those who alienate you, so vote for me." We’ve seen both parties alienate Latino people and people of color in general. Revo brought up great points about the deportations. Colorlines gave us the statement "new record for deportations in 2011, removing nearly 400,000 undocumented immigrants." He shows no promise. Obama and Romney use the same pandering lip service where they both proclaim to be not as bad as the other guy so we should vote for them. Barack Obama is governing within a white supremacist frame work (consider that irony). It would have been nice to see him lay out legitimate, concrete set of plans, standing alone. Not doing it in the way that says the other guy did this, so give me four more years. The language is there. Look at it.

Alberto Tito Velazquez:

What Obama said was true, the Republican Party has alienated the Latino community. If Latinos disagree with Obama, they can’t run to the GOP. As someone who early voted yesterday with Obama, I did not do so because I agreed with him wholeheartedly on immigration, the fact that he only mentioned "gang bangers" in the 2nd debate as the people who have been deported, and not the record breaking numbers that include entrepreneurs, students, head of households, irks me. Even with all that, it’d be foolish for me to think the GOP as an alternative.

Michael Brown:

You can sit here all day and mince words and argue over semantics, but, where’s his record? No so-called immigration reform, he had to be dragged kicking and screaming for the piecemeal DREAM law he signed (in an election year btw), and someone already mentioned the number of those deported. His Justice Department works with local cops to carry out the racist Secure Communities program. Yes, Obama is right. Until Blacks, Latinos, real whites on the left, unions and progressives create our own political space, we’ll have to chop cotton the Democratic plantation. I’m voting third party this year.

Debbie McIntyre:

People of all races will vote for Obama because he has proven to be a great president. It’s insulting to imply Latinos are voting for him because they don’t have a choice. Above all President Obama opens the door for many who dare to dream they too can become commander-in-chief including Latinos who represent America.

Danette Allrich Osano:

Our president was stating the fact that the GOP not only does not care about the Latino vote, they continually alienate them at every turn. Look at Arizona, where they are purposely misleading Spanish speaking people by putting up info giving the wrong voting date.

Maria Paz Artaza-Regan

I read the article and agreed with the idea that the GOP blew it with outreach to Latinos. That then helps Obama. Then I read: "I want to get it done because it’s the right thing to do and I’ve cared about this ever since I ran back in 2008." I agree with that too…..sooooooo, where’s the big controversy?

LD Taylor

[Hispanics] don’t [have a better option]. I’m Hispanic and what will the Republicans ever do for Hispanics? NADA, my friend, NADA!

Alonso Salas

That’s true. We don’t. Republicans scare the crap out of us!

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