Voxxi recently published an article with a particularly attention-grabbing, candid headline: “Latinos to Surpass Whites in California.” The author explores how this demographic shift can affect public policy on a local and state level in future elections—with immigration being the staple issue. The focus of the piece, however, is the low, electoral turn-out among eligible, Latino voters.
But I am neither concerned with the effects of this demographic shift- on a local or national level- nor with the low, voter participation rates. Even as a Latina. The underexplored issue, I believe, is the way in which the courters (i.e. politicians, interest groups, Democrats, and Republicans) seem to regard various groups of people as monoliths—especially racial and ethnic minorities.
I understand. It is politically expedient to do so. How else can you proclaim that there is a War on Women unless you have the perception that most, if not all, women believe that access to taxpayer-funded abortions services and birth control are rights. Or disseminate the view that libertarianism predominantly has sway among the white and be-penised, therefore no woman or ethnic minority person (especially no ethnic-minority woman) in their right mind would think that they have anything to gain from personal and economic liberties.
We can only speak of our interests as the interests of some kind of monolithic collective or another, right?
Even if you’re just a tad bit collectivist, you would be mistaken to assume, for example, that all Latinos are affected by immigration laws. My family (on my father’s side) is Puerto Rican. Our experience has not been rife with immigration or citizenship troubles because Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.
Indubitably, there are domestic policy disasters that have struck Latino communities wholesale—regardless of national origin. For example, Puerto Rican communities in the U.S., like Black and other Latino communities, have been disproportionately affected by the continuing Drug War. The effects of the Drug War are compounded by high teen-pregnancy rates and onerous regulations that stifle economic opportunity (and, in turn, exacerbate unemployment). And of course, substandard education can be thrown into the mix.
These examples do show us that Latinos are negatively and disproportionately affected by certain kinds of public policy issues. But these issues are not exclusively “Hispanic problems.” They are issues that affect individual Americans in varying degrees, insofar as they have the net-effect of diminishing personal liberties and limiting economic opportunities.
But Americans are not a monolithic group either. So we should abstain from one-size-fits-all prescriptions that discourage individuals and organic, voluntary associations from enacting solutions that are unique to their circumstances.
None of us—and by us, I mean individual Americans—are a part of any monolithic voting blocs. Needs, interests, experiences, and preferences are as variegated within groups as they are between individuals- even though we may describe ourselves in terms of assorted affiliations.