Que? Hispanic Voters Think for Themselves


About half of Arizona's Hispanic voters supported a proposition to make English the official language of the state. The Tuscon Citizen breaks it down for us gringos this morning:

Gabriel Cordoba is a good indicator of the Hispanic vote.

Which is to say, there is no one Hispanic vote.

He voted against Proposition 300, which would take adult education and English classes away from illegal immigrants, but for Proposition 103, which would make English Arizona's official language.

In reality, Hispanics tend to be varied in their political leanings, with the starkest difference between those Hispanics who have been in the country for a while, who tend to vote more conservatively, and those that are more recent arrivals, who vote more liberally.

The official language question is a tough nut to crack. Such propositions are often used by anti-immigrant agitators as the reasonable-sounding thin end of the wedge, which makes me wary. But to conduct government in English does seem, well, reasonable. In the end, Arizona voters made English the state's official language with 74 percent support (Prop. 103)–Hispanic voters were more or less evenly divided. And 71 percent of Arizona voters opted to deny illegals in-state status at AZ colleges and universities (Prop. 300).


NEXT: Election 2006: I Told You So

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  1. Nice of them to let us know that the slightly brown folks descended from different European colonialists are people too!

  2. i would agree that official government business is best conducted in a universally understood language in a given country. so it makes sense that in the US all of that business be done in english. what is not clear to me is the passionate need by some to push this as a form of legislation. i mean, is there a real danger that official government business on behalf of the country is being conducted in other languages? except for many parts of california, florida, and texas, where i think a mix of something approximating spanglish is the word on the street in many neighborhoods, i don’t get that impression when it comes to governments in those local areas.

    plus, given the general nature of some “english-only” proponents i have heard, it doesn’t seem that many of them would be able to discern the difference between english only as it relates to official government affairs versus how it relates to being imposed on those choosing to speak other languages with people they know. i think, among the smaller minds, the english-only law would serve to fuel the ever-present anti-immigrant fervor that still seems so alive and well.

  3. It’s so French to use legislation to try and advance a language…

  4. Timothy,

    Only during elections. Then you, like most large voting groups, will be ignored.

    The idea of a “Hispanic vote” is laughable. Americans of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South American, Spanish, etc. descent have little in common except, maybe, Spanish. Even within those groups, there is much variation. When I was on the board for the Tampa Cuban Club, the 1960s Cubans were mostly very right-wing, while the old Cubans (from the late 1800s) were more liberal.

    Just an irrelevant aside–I recently had dinner at a Brazilian restaurant (in Tampa). It was really good! I suppose it is derived from Portuguese cuisine, but I haven’t had much of that either. That popped in my head when I thought of the non-Spanish-speaking “Hispanic” contingent.

  5. Most people want their kids to do better than they have and understand that to really succeed in this country, you have to speak English. It is that simple. A majority of hispanics supported ending bi-lingual education in California a few years ago. Why? Because they knew it didn’t work and they wanted their kids to speak English. To the surprise of some, most people don’t want to live in a balkanized multicultural paradise. Most people just want to fit in and get a job.

  6. Yesterday’s brickbat fits in with this thread:

    “November 7, 2006

    Merchtem, Belgium, has banned the use of French in its schools. Parents and children will be allowed to speak only Dutch on school grounds. Both French and Dutch have official language status in different regions of Belgium. Merchtem lies in an area where Dutch has traditionally be the main language, but an increasing number of French speakers have moved there in recent years.”

    Why, as an English-speaking Canadian, do I have trouble getting upset about this?

  7. Arsen

    Because you’re a moron?

  8. Pro L is right: There is no monolithic Hispanic vote. Anyone of any race with a Spanish last name is considered to be Hispanic by the FedGov, and that includes the red-headed gringa with china-doll white skin and the last name of “Sanchez” who used to work in my office.

    Hispanics are far more likely to vote by pocketbook than by race or ethnicity.

  9. Even though forbidding the government from making Spanish-language copies of its documents has nothing whatsoever to do with private citizens learning English to get a good job, much of the support for such proposals stem from exactly the beliefs John describes.

  10. Joe,

    Go talk to all of the hispanics who voted the other way. Many of them feel that they made the effort to learn English and so should everyone else who comes here and that to cater to people who don’t speak English is to set them back not help them. It is a perfectly legitimate view and puts lie to the propaganda that says only racists support these kinds of laws.

  11. Pro Lib,

    By definition one is only hispanic if culturally descended from Spain. Brazilians are Lusitanic.

  12. Even in New Mexico, where English and Spanish are both the official languages, gov’t is still run in English…Though the law says that laws and postings etc are to be posted in both languages, it is usually ignored in favor of English.

  13. What the hell are “recent arrivals,” doing voting on anything anyway?

  14. Lusitanic. I like that. I’m surprised that I haven’t run across that term before, though Lusitania is, of course, familiar to any fan of Rome 🙂

  15. Edward

    Since the irony of the situation escapes you, I’ll explain in small words.

    In Quebec – one of our Provinces, in case that needs explaining, too – the Francophone majority has repeatedly passed laws banning the use of English and mandating the use of French. If you post a commercial sign in English – or even in both French and English with the English words larger – you can and will be prosecuted.

    This extends to other languages as well – French must dominate. There was a case where a store stocked kosher goods imported from the US for Hanukah and were prosecuted for having only Hebrew text.

    Immigrants to Quebec must educate their children in French – no choice of Canada’s two official languages.

    So, it is a little amusant, so to speak to see the shoe on l’autre pied.

    [BTW: Nice use of ad hominem.]

  16. PL: For the record, I’m a non-Hispanic Whitey McWhiterson.

  17. Blame the new instant-posting process for that one, Timothy. I noticed that you didn’t actually call yourself Hispanic only after I posted. Oops.

    I’m not Hispanic, either, despite my past board membership with the Cuban Club. Though I like the food 🙂

  18. Many people in TX whose family were here before the Alamo get really annoyed if you assume they speak Spanish (even if they do). I can see them easily voting for an English language law if one ever came on the ballot. On the other hand there are Hispanics who have lived in the US for generations who do not speak English. In one volume of Robert Caro’s bio of LBJ (I forget which one) he quoted one of LBJ’s elementary school students as saying that Johnson was the first teacher the school ever had that cared whether the students learned English or not. If official English laws make states actually teach their children English then great.

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