New Book By Leslie Sanchez
August 16, 2007
Considering that 1 out of every 10 voters in 2008 may be Hispanic (the ratio is higher yet in key swing states like Colorado, Florida and New Mexico) Latinos may be the most underestimated voter group in the upcoming Presidential election. Following sizable shifts in Hispanic voters’ allegiance over the past four Presidential elections and their strong affinity to the values of the GOP, they may also be the most overlooked.
In her powerful and incisive new book, LOS REPUBLICANOS: Why Hispanics and Republicans Need Each Other [Palgrave Macmillan; August 7, 2007; ISBN: 1-4039-7802-6; $24.95; HC], Leslie Sanchez explores the history of relations between Republicans and Latinos and offers an intriguing new perspective on how an alliance – or at least a courtship -- would benefit both groups.
A principal architect of the historic and successful effort to attract Hispanics to President George W. Bush in 2000 (she designed and produced the first multi-million dollar Republican communications campaign targeted exclusively to Latinos), Sanchez argues that corporate America has long understood that Hispanics are “wired differently,” and that political Parties and pundits alike are far behind the curve.
In LOS REPUBLICANOS, Sanchez uses humor and a lifetime of personal anecdotes from prominent, politically active Hispanic leaders to illustrate how Republican and Hispanic values overlap on a host of critical issues across the political spectrum -- from faith-based initiatives to foreign policy, from public assistance programs to education. In the process, she breaks apart the stereotype of Latinos marching in lockstep with a Democratic Party that takes them for granted.
Yet even as Hispanic voters become more conservative and less allied to the Democrats, Sanchez argues, the GOP’s own shrill rhetoric on the issue of immigration risks driving them away – and jeopardizes the Republicans’ political chances in the process.
NOTE: Last year I had very interesting conversation with Leslie; she was kind enough to include part of it on her book...
These prejudices go both ways. Juan Guillermo Tornoe, a Guatemalan advertising executive who has been a permanent legal U.S. resident for four years, tells a story about the time his wife and two young children were leaving their local post office in Austin, Texas.
“We make it a point to talk to the kids in Spanish all the time so they maintain their language,” he says. “So they were walking out of the post office, and my wife says, in Spanish, ‘Hey guys don’t run, be careful with the cars.’ This old gentlemen, typical WASP, turns around and faces my kids, and tells them, ‘You know kids, you live in America, you have to learn the English language to be successful.’ A six-year-old and a two-year old. My wife turns around and tells him, “Excuse me sir, my kids are fully bilingual.” And the guys doesn’t even acknowledge her, he just keeps on walking.
“Many of my friends [back home] root for Republicans,” says Tornoe. “We were brought up in Guatemala to believe that a Republican in office in the U.S. was better for Latin America. But this man – I have no idea what his political agenda was, but unfortunately, from my experience, I would bet that he’s a Republican.”
This man on the street was talking down to a family of a successful corporate executive – young children who probably spoke more languages than he does – presumably because he saw Spanish-speakers as people to whom he could teach a lesson. It is no surprise that suspicions and prejudices develop when Republicans treat Hispanics not as brothers, but as illegitimate children of America.