Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Of the GOP, Luis Fortuño, Immigration, and Disneyricans: Why The HuffPost’s Political “Analysis” of Puerto Rican Voters Fails

by Julito Varela / December 27, 2011

The Luis Fortuño GOP VP Campaign Train is buzzing along, and The Huffington Post is the latest US media outlet to join on this bizarre public relations campaign to promote Puerto Rico’s Republican governor.

In a HuffPost piece entitled A Republican Primer on Latino Voters by Gretchen Sierra-Zorita of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, the author addresses the every-burning question of how the GOP can attract more Latino voters in the 2012 election. After the necessary disclaimer that current GOP possibilities like Marco Rubio and Susana Martínez would not make good choices for the GOP because of their anti-immigration rhetoric, Sierra-Zorita gets to the meat of the article and perhaps the main reason she wrote it: to inaccurately paint Puerto Ricans as the least vocal group about immigration and to promote Fortuño as a realistic VP option.

The author begins with her thesis:
Third, enlisting a Hispanic vice president could improve Republican chances of expanding their Latino base but only at the margin. Among the possible candidates, Governor Fortuño stands the better chance of winning over new voters.

Her reasons? Reason #1: Puerto Ricans are the most likely Latino group to vote for their own native son. She writes:
There are 4.6 million Puerto Ricans residing in the mainland. For them, immigration reform is a preference but not a priority because Puerto Ricans are born U.S. citizens. They mostly trend Democrat, but they would give the Republican ticket a second look if they saw a Puerto Rican in it.

Once again, the misperception of Puerto Ricans as being insensitive and ignorant towards immigration issues has propped its ugly head. We thought we had addressed this over the summer when the founder of The Tequila Party showed her lack of education about Puerto Rican history and how Puerto Ricans were a source of cheap migrant labor in United States ever since citizenship was imposed on Puerto Ricans in 1917. But it appears that Sierra-Zorita needs a quick lesson in Puerto Rican history, so we invite her to become a follower of this blog or just follow us on Twitter and we will keep her informed.
Nonetheless, facts and history aside, we know very few Puerto Ricans who think immigration injustice is NOT a critical issue in this country. In fact, some could argue that certain Puerto Ricans are at the forefront of the national debate.

Just ask Illinois Congressman and Puerto Rican Luis Gutierrez, who has been one of the country’s most consistent and effective voices when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform. Or ask the Rev. Sam Rodríguez, one of the country’s most influential Christian ministers and a Puerto Rican, who spearheaded a national pledge asking that all political candidates cease the negative rhetoric immigration.

So, Puerto Ricans DO care about immigration, and to imply that Puerto Ricans would be the first to vote Republican because they would easily trade in that issue before say, a Mexican American voter, is irresponsible and inaccurate.

On to Exhibit B, the Disneyrican defense. Sierra-Zorita writes:
The 848,000 Puerto Ricans who live in Florida, popularly known as Disneyricans, might be more receptive to a conservative pitch from Governor Fortuño. Disneyricans are considered independents, having voted for Obama in 2008 and for Rubio in 2010. Over 40 percent of them moved from Puerto Rico during the last decade, primarily for economic reasons.
 This paragraph is so wrong on so many levels. We offer these two observations:

The term Disneyrican is an invented media term that refers to the new migration of Puerto Ricans on the island to Central Florida in the last 10 years, specifically Orlando. This population is younger, more professional, more educated and quite likely left Fortuño’s Puerto Rico in the last three years because there were no jobs on the island, the island’s crime rate was spiraling, and the island’s standard of living was awful. Is there a correlation between a declining population on the island and a Republican governor whose policies have led to a stagnant economy that is being compared to Greece? Maybe so, and we believe the chances of these new Florida residents voting for Fortuño as VP are minimal to say the least. And we are being nice about that assessment.

Sticking to the term Disneyrican, we would like to ask the HuffPost and Sierra-Zorita, who claims that this terms is a “popular” term, to name the other media outlets in the US (besides the HuffPost) that use the term Disneyrican to describe Puerto Ricans living in Florida? Very few articles, even in Spanish-language media, use this term.

As someone who actually has Puerto Rican family members and friends who live in Central Florida, I don’t hear people refer themselves as Disneyricans with boricua pride. This is just a classic case of a media outlet trying to create an invented sound bite buzz word to try and box a voting bloc. Sierra-Zorita should have known better, especially when earlier in the piece, she says herself that Latino voters are not one-dimensional.

Puerto Rican Republican Governor Luis Fortuño

Finally, Sierra-Zorita shows her complete ignorance about the US Constitution when she writes the following:
Ironically, as governor of a U.S. territory, FortuñoRubio who, as a Latino, mostly appeals to the Cuban Americans who are already part of the Republican base.
Yes, Fortuño is the ultimate outsider, so much so, that he couldn’t even vote for himself right now! Does Sierra-Zorita not realize that if Fortuño were to run, he would have to change his residency from the island to a mainland address (Virginia, most likely, where he used to lived) because right now, Fortuño can’t vote for President because he lives in Puerto Rico? How would the GOP explain that one to its base, the same base that once questioned the citizenship of President Obama? That is a hornet’s nest waiting to happen, and it makes no sense for any GOP leader to even think of this possibility.

But nonetheless, Sierra-Zorita shouldn’t be blamed for her lack of political knowledge when it comes to Puerto Rican politics. Her previous HuffPost piece was claiming that some obscure Puerto Rican investment bill would turn the vast majority of Disneyricans over to the GOP column. The GOP would win the Disneyrican vote, of that is no doubt, she argued. We respectfully disagree. Obscure bills that have done nothing to help the island’s situation will curry very little support in the end.

The GOP could win more of the Disneyrican, Newyorican, and Puerto Rican vote when it starts treating them as voters and respecting them. Leave the pandering, silly sound bites, and public relation campaigns to the pundits. You can get better advice just by paying attention to the realities that are happening in Puerto Rico and how most Puerto Ricans we know deeply care for the island to heal and for the POLITIQUERÍA to end.

1 comment:

  1. Gracias mil, thank you for posting this on your site. The greatest compliment I can get is recognition from my fellow boricua bloggers.