SAN DIEGO – At the end of this contentious presidential contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, our only consolation is that one of these guys is going to lose. Both deserve to.
Much has been said about the importance of the Latino vote. I’ve said a lot myself, and so of course I urge Latinos to vote – for every office except president. They can vote for city council, state representative, governor and Congress. But when they come to that entry on the ballot that asks them to choose between Obama/Biden and Romney/Ryan, they should skip the line.
“Skip the line” in the name of self-respect and to declare that they’re sick and tired of choosing the lesser of two evils – because, they have come to realize, the lesser evil is still evil.
“Skip the line” because, as a people who have served their country every time that Uncle Sam has called, they have earned better than having to double down on a failed presidency because they’re afraid of a worse one.
“Skip the line” because, on immigration – an issue that Latinos say they care about – the choice is between a challenger who wants illegal immigrants to “self-deport” and an incumbent who became an expert at forcibly removing them.
“Skip the line” because, while it sounds as if both campaigns have come around to the importance of Latino voters, all they’ve come up with are better ways to manipulate them.
“Skip the line” because the two major political parties have become like Visa and MasterCard, more alike than they are different, and neither one has a dime’s worth of respect for America’s largest minority.
Even so, how Obama and Romney treated Latinos in this campaign is a new low. It was as if both candidates resented that they had to compete for those voters at all, and they lashed out.
Neither candidate understands us. Not the way that George W. Bush did. The 43rd president gave Latinos a seat at the table, and their concerns a place on the national agenda. Those days are gone.
Worse, both mistreat us. Obama does it by dangling the promise of immigration reform in front of us like a carrot in front of a horse. Romney does it by undergoing a makeover as a moderate who bears no resemblance to the immigration hard-liner he was in the Republican primary election contests.
CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield asked me during an interview the other day how Latinos could fall for the kinder and gentler Mitt. “Latinos aren’t stupid,” she said.
I keep hoping she’s right. But a new poll from Latino Decisions shows Latinos supporting Obama over Romney by 52 points – 73 percent to 21 percent. And this is despite Obama’s atrocious record on immigration.
It is a record so bad that Obama has to spruce it up with tall tales. Democrats are going bonkers because Romney tailors his message to the audience he’s addressing. In a Rolling Stone interview, Obama called his opponent a bull——.
Seriously? When it comes to immigration, that’s all Obama does.
In what was supposed to be an off-the-record interview with the Des Moines Register that the White House later agreed to release, Obama predicted that immigration reform would get done next year. He suggested that, if he wins a second term, it would be “because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community.” And so, he predicted, Republicans will fall in line.
How does Obama get Democrats to fall in line? They’re in the pocket of organized labor, which wants more enforcement and fewer immigrants to compete with. It was Senate Democrats – including one named Barack Obama – who helped kill immigration reform in 2007, and Senate Democrats who killed the DREAM Act in 2010, denying undocumented students a pathway to legal status. He forgot to mention this.
As for Romney, the most honest moment of this election concerning Latinos was an unscripted one. At a May fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla., he told Republican donors that, oh, how he wished he had been born Latino because then he would have a “better shot” of winning the presidency. That showed either a bad sense of humor or an even worse grasp on reality.
This is our choice? The lesser of two evils? The incompetent versus the mediocre?
What an insult. Don’t accept it. Take a stand. Send a message. Demand better. Skip the line.
Email: email@example.com. Copyright 2011, The Washington Post Writers Group.