Officially, one of the stated goals of the Tequila Party is to get out the Latino vote. The Latino population is growing in numbers nationwide– and particularly in the Southwest– but their voting record is dismal.
In 2010, the Pima County Democrats invested thousands of dollars and hundreds of man-hours in registering people–particularly Latinos in Congressman Raul Grijalva’s CD7– to vote. This effort may have helped Grijalva barely squeak by right-wing extremist Ruth McClung, and it may have helped Sally Ann Gonzales and Marcario Saldate get elected to the Arizona Legislature, but it certainly didn’t help Terry Goddard, Felecia Rotellini, or Penny Kotterman. (Just think how different the Mexican American Studies debate would be if Arizona had elected Goddard governor, Rottellini attorney general, and Kotterman superintendent of public instruction.)
Personally, I think the Tequila Party is a great idea– if it focuses on getting out the Latino vote– but I am a concerned about the mixed messages from Arizona Hispanic Republicans’ blog posts. There is huge emphasis on LIVE STREAMING (her caps)– which to me spells PROPAGANDA (my caps)– and not many specifics about how the Tequila Party will actually get out the Latino vote.
Going door-to-door and canvasing at every public event– as the Democrats do– takes organization, walk lists, time, money, and hundreds of volunteers. (I know. I was one of those Democrats walking the Tucson neighborhoods in the heat with campaign literature and Permanent Early Voting List [PEVL] registration forms. You can easily spend entire Saturday morning slogging through a neighborhood and get fewer than five new, completed voter registration cards.)
Of course, why am I surprised that Arizona Hispanic Republicans would emphasize propaganda? Propaganda is Karl Rove’s signature tactic. What is surprising (sort of) is that the Three Sonorans has jumped on board with the Republican-backed Tequila Party. (Check out the audio link on the Unapologetic Liberal’s blog.)
Back to voter registration…
A stark example of the voter registration challenge facing the Tequila Party (or anyone else trying to encourage Latinos to vote) appeared in Monday’s Arizona Daily Star: Redistricting likely to shift supervisor areas slightly.
Take voter behavior in Districts 1 and 2, for example. The northwest-area[which includes Marana and Oro Valley] district has nearly 117,000 registered voters. The south-side district, even though it has a bigger population, has only about 73,000 registered voters.
As the Arizona Lottery used to tell us: You can’t win if you don’t play. Latinos will continue to be frustrated politically, as long as they don’t register and don’t vote proportionally to their numbers. Propaganda may get people pissed off, but will it encourage them to vote? Republicans have used hate speech, wedge issues [can you say Ethnic Studies?], and fact-free smear campaigns to their advantage for years. Time will only tell if the Tequila Party follows this course.