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The Democrats Don't Have a Lock on Latinos

August 28, 2003|Luis R. Farias and Scott Chavez | Luis R. Farias and Scott Chavez are officers with the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Sacramento.

Here is a news flash: Being a Latino does not necessarily mean you are a Democrat. An increasing number of Latinos are supporting the recall, convinced that this populist movement will benefit them and the rest of California. Many signed the recall petition to make known their dissatisfaction with Gov. Gray Davis' incompetent leadership, lack of accountability and excessive allegiance to special-interest groups.

Latinos have traditionally voted for Democrats; some studies say two-thirds of Latino votes are cast for the party. Democratic leaders hope that if the recall is successful, Latino voters will help elect Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante to the governorship because he is a Democrat and a Latino. Some analysts have even suggested that Latinos will vote for Bustamante just because he is Latino. They are wrong.

This election is a mandate for change. It is a rejection of the failed policies of Davis, which are, in part, a failure shared by the Democratic leadership -- and Bustamante -- in California. There has been no action plan to help create and grow Latino businesses or to rescue education and students from failing schools. And our communities are falling apart at the seams -- all this on the Democrats' watch.

The Latino population in California will continue to grow and become an even more integral part of the state, thus playing a more decisive role in politics. Though the Democratic leadership operates under the assumption that upward economic mobility can be achieved through government handouts, Latino Americans want more than just government aid programs. They want to live successful and productive lives. No government program will make the American dream a reality for Latinos or other Californians. Opportunities for jobs, education and good health care will.

Since Davis and Bustamante took office, Californians have had to shoulder the burden of expensive and ineffective government programs, higher taxes, a failing educational system, an energy crisis, a workers' compensation crisis and a $38-billion budget shortfall. The Republican Party and Californian Latinos share a number of core values, such as the importance of family, personal responsibility, hard work, religious beliefs and leadership. Instead of appealing strictly to identity politics in wooing the Latino electorate, Republicans want to provide tangible opportunities such as tax cuts for small businesses and decreased government regulation.

If Bustamante is elected Oct. 7, the status quo will remain unaffected. Latinos will be no closer to achieving the American dream than they were with Davis. Taxes will be raised, government programs will be expanded and the pervasive influence of special-interest groups will continue.

California's next leader must govern the state with mind, soul and corazon, or heart, not a campaign checkbook.

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