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September 17, 2009

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There's no reason to think that the right-wing noise machine can't choose a new organizing principle (i.e., a common enemy) besides Hispanics. Think secular humanists, gays, Planned Parenthood, and the ever-reliable African-American community. You might need a Hispanic Glenn Beck to midwife the transformation but that shouldn't be difficult to find.

Moreover, when Hispanics do start voting efficaciously, the results would be disappointing for liberals anyway. Part of the problem is that the two places they coalesced around - labor unions and the Catholic church - are different today than several decades ago. Since John Paul II, Catholicism has migrated markedly to the right. Unions, needless to say, play a decreasingly relevant role in the workplace.

The Democratic Party is now the good-government league, more interested in reasonable and earnest reforms than cut-throat political machinations. That cedes the collective id as a political battleground to the right. Now Bubbas, Baptists and Teamsters vote Republican while Democrats proudly claim Vermont. Liberals sorely miss the kick-ass unions that spoke directly to workers in a language they understood.

At some point, Democrats will have to ponder whether their squeamishness with the tactics of Pavlovian communication cancels out their political competitiveness. It's not an either/or proposition but it does demand a strong stomach.

"In the Southwest, more than a few Mexican-Americans resented the recent, huge wave of immigrant."

That sums it up right there. The Latinos who ARE registered to vote are much less likely to vote in favor of immigrants.

Good points, Mr. Talton.

But I wonder whether the return of Uncle Joe Arpaio to office allows us to infer, ipso facto, that Hispanics didn't get out the vote in the Sheriff's race?

Regardless of working-class apathy in general elections, regardless of attitudes by some Hispanic-Americans toward undocumented immigrants, it seems that there was a broad concensus among Hispanics in Maricopa County that the MCSO under Arpaio was out of control and broadly threatening to their civil liberties.

Arpaio won by only 55 percent, a slim majority. His opponent Dan Saban was terribly underfunded and undersupported by the state's Democratic Party (whom I feel are the real culprit, not apathetic Hispanics), and Saban was lamed from the start by previous personal scandals (predictably renewed in an infamous television ad funded by state Republicans using money raised by the shadowy SCA (an MCSO front organization).

In short, for an opponent fighting an entrenched incumbent on a shoestring budget with an albatross tied around his neck, Saban did pretty good. I suspect that without the Hispanic vote he would have fared considerably worse.

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