Latinos: The Peril of a Too-Early Presidential Campaign

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco

You have to be careful these days, going from headline to calendar and back. Looking at one, then the other, over and over, you could get whiplash.

To wit, from the Los Angeles Times, 11/12/13:

Hillary Clinton hails Latino efforts, urges immigration overhaul

And from The Daily Beast, same day:

How Chris Christie is Winning Over Hispanics

I don’t know what to do with it, aside form getting a neck brace or stop straining my neck.

We’re two years away from a presidential election – that’s too early for candidates to pander to the Latino community, and way too early for the national press to notice.

But this is different. These headlines point to a looming potential, an anticipated cautionary tale: any candidate with national ambitions should start pandering to Latino voters now, look what Latinos did for Christie in New Jersey!

This is a new political dynamic.

The Latino vote isn’t new, neither is the political potential. What’s new is the attention so early in the process.

Maybe it has to do with the Hillary effect; the swell of anticipation of a Hillary Clinton presidential candidacy. The thought of Clinton – “HRC” to all  the hip commentators and pols – running for president started a de facto  presidential sweepstakes as soon as  Obama was sworn-in to a second term. The natural  follow-up to an anticipated Hillary run is “who can the GOP get to run against her.” And after that comes the speculation  about voting blocks and their issues.

So here it is, November of 2013 and the newspapers are publishing stories about potential presidential candidates, Latinos, votes and … immigration.

It’s like a patellar reflex, and that’s disturbing.

The Iowa caucuses are still 13 months away, and what I’m reading feels a lot like an attempt to frame an issue, or better yet, to frame a voting block within an issue. The news stories have reduced Latino politics to a simple formula: Immigration = Latinos = Votes. When this happens so early in the process it makes you wonder what’ll happen within the campaigns once they get up-and-running, with the usual Latino strategists-on-speed-dial whispering in the candidates’ ear.

But there’s potential in the peril.

If there’s an opportunity to make a difference, it’s now, as the process is heating up: to expand the conversation beyond immigration; to expand registered voters.

If nothing else, we should do it to avoid whiplash.

[Phto by 4Neus]

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