Not Your Father's Latino Officials

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on January 13, 2011

Longtime political observer Hastings Wyman at the Southern Political Report recently noted Republican Latino candidates winning more offices from the South in the fall elections. His column is titled "Latino Republicans Gain in Dixie."

Wyman is no immigration expert, so his column repeats some of the questionable assertions of conventional wisdom about the Hispanic electorate. It doesn't look at voter turnout levels, which explain a lot in any electoral result. And he gives a hack from the Latino elected officials' group free ink to make unfiltered, unexamined claims.

But Wyman knows Southern politics. Hence, the column is still a worthwhile read.

Some hopeful signs indicate that the newly elected Republican Latinos won't be squishes on immigration, like some of their disappointing non-Latino colleagues (Richard Lugar and John McCain come to mind). For example, the Washington Times reported on these freshmen's generally conservative principles. And the Times noted how several take a hard line on immigration:

But many Hispanic Republican candidates are comfortable holding strong anti-illegal immigration positions. Mr. Labrador and Mr. Flores, who easily won their races, based their campaigns in part on strengthening the U.S. borders' against illegal immigration.

Other positive signs: South Carolina's new Republican governor (whose ethnic background is Indian) has made immigration enforcement a priority:

Governor-elect Nikki Haley of South Carolina said she wants to sign into law a measure like Arizona's next year [in 2011]. She also wants to boost state funding for immigration enforcement and press for increased deportation of illegal immigrants within her state's borders.

And also from South Carolina, GOP freshman Rep. Tim Scott won election in a regular district, not one whose lines were drawn to ensure a minority winner. Furthermore, Rep. Scott has declined to join the Congressional Black Caucus:

"While I recognize the efforts of the CBC and appreciate their invitation for me to caucus with them, I will not be joining at this time," Scott said. "My campaign was never about race."

Rep. Scott's example of color-blindness sets a laudable model that other elected officials who happen to be from a racial or ethnic minority should emulate; perhaps some freshmen will tell the Hispanic Caucus no. Coupled with the several newly elected Latinos' stand on immigration, the outdated molds of race-consciousness and enthnocentrism, which have no place in American politics or society, may be passing away. Good riddance!