Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Hispanic Republicans? Yep, and they’re here to stay

Are Hispanic the new Italians? In recent years, I’ve noticed an increased number of prominent minority conservatives/Republicans. An Iraqi immigrant woman wants to challenge Ilhan Omar. A Jamaican immigrant woman planned to challenge Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez and dropped out. A Hispanic woman running for Congress in Florida bills herself as an anti-AOC. Gay married Dave Rubin and atheist Somali immigrant Ayaan Hirsi Ali are now becoming conservative icons. Many other examples. I know a lot of Republican-voting, FOX New-watching “conservatives” and most of them seem to not have any real problem with ethnic minorities, women, immigrants, or even gays as long as they get the politics “right” (literally speaking). Some on the alt-right are now embracing Islam and/or Communism. Many people would be surprised by the number of minorities found in supposed “white nationalist” circles. And many leftists express utter hatred for minority conservatives.

This would seem to confirm my view that the Left/Right Red Tribe/Blue Tribe divide is essentially “religious” in nature (representing different sets of traditions, rituals, myths, taboos, icons, narratives, visions, and abstract political theologies) and less about race, gender, sexuality, geography, religion in the conventional sense, or other “identity” issues per se.  Not even social class. Research shows that much of the greatest level of culture-war intensity is found within the white upper-middle class. I’d argue that lifestyle is probably the greatest indicator of whether one will identify more strongly with the Red Tribe or the Blue Tribe. For instance, the vegan animal welfare advocates vs the gun-owning, meat-eating hunters divide is probably a better indicator of where one will be in terms of affiliation with a major tribe than many of these broader categories. Political philosophers like Paul Gottfried and Thomas Sowell, along with social psychologists like Jonathan Haidt, seem to have the best insights concerning what really drives the left/right divide.

Of course, this leaves out many, many people who do not identify with either major tribe (myself, for example). I’d argue the urban underclass/lumpenproletariat, while majority-minority, is certainly not a part of the Blue Tribe. Nor are many of the 46% who refuse to vote for either major party (though a minority of 46 percenters are ultra-tribalists who think the two parties are not Red or Blue enough). Nor are many of the “exhausted majority” identified by the “hidden tribes” who trend centrist, radical center or center-left but generally disdain culture war fanaticism and divisiveness.

By Raul A. Reyes

During the 1970s and the 1980s, virtually every adult in America was walking around with the autograph of a Latina in their wallets or purses.

That’s because there were three Mexican American women — all Republican appointees — who served as treasurer of the United States during those decades. While these Latinas were not household names, their signatures were on U.S. currency. Romana Acosta Bañuelos, Katherine Ortega and Catalina Vásquez Villalpando were, in a sense, present in every business and household in the country.

What’s more, the first Latino to run as a major-party candidate for president (in 1980) was a Republican, Benjamin Fernandez, co-founder of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly.

It is this largely unknown history that Geraldo L. Cadava sets out to portray in his new book, “The Hispanic Republican: The Shaping of an American Political Identity, from Nixon to Trump.” Cadava explains how, thanks to outreach and the nuances of identity, the Republican Party has created a deep sense of loyalty among some Hispanics — a bond that often confounds political observers.


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