Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

ORANGE COUNTY PERSPECTIVE

Latinos' Political Awakening

April 28, 2002

The "2002 in 2002" conference held this month in Anaheim drew hundreds of Latino high school and college students. The Hispanic 100 in February lured the state's three Republican candidates for governor to an invitation-only luncheon in Orange County. The numbers embedded in the names of the two organizations, and what they say about the political aspirations of the Latino community, should send a powerful message. Despite the political victories of Latino candidates in recent years, some still might view the county's fast-growing Latino population as a small and single-minded voting bloc.

Orange County's diversity is evident in statistics spun off by the 2000 U.S. census. Latinos are the county's largest minority group, having grown 46% to a total of 875,579 residents between 1990 and 2000. A decade ago, the county was the 19th most diverse in the state; Orange County now is the state's 14th most diverse county.

The two recent meetings offer proof that the days of referring to "Latino voters" as a bloc are over. As more people become active in politics, Latino voters are likely to face a wider range of political choice--that is, if they become involved.

The Anaheim meeting's sponsor hopes to register 2,002 young Latino voters in Orange County before the November elections. The group also hopes to engage young Latinos by getting them involved in an array of civic activities. That message was drummed home repeatedly during the meeting. Numbers don't count, young Latinos were told, if the largest minority group in the county's public schools doesn't get involved.

Lack of involvement in political and civic matters isn't the core issue for members of the newly formed Hispanic 100. This group is top-heavy with Republican business leaders, and its members hope to advance their particular vision of Latino issues. In the process, the Hispanic 100 is sending a message that politicians who rely upon a one-size-fits-all message risk missing or alienating Orange County's increasingly diverse Latino community.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|