For The Baffler I wrote about the the Great Latinxpectations embedded within the convenient mythology of “Latino vote.”
What is often referred to as the “Latino vote” is merely the propensity of political and media elites to fault Latino voters for not abiding by their expectations, even as actual Latinos delivered critical votes to preserve democracy itself. Few moves capture the political theater inherent to the mirage of a unified “Latino vote”—the term used to simplify the nation’s second largest racial/ethnic electorate—than the obsession with Latino men who supported the president. It’s all to the exclusion of Latinas in Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, and elsewhere, who marshaled a political force and built an electoral wall of reckoning.
Latino vote obscures the forces, interests and histories bearing down on Latino voters.
In the simpleton vision of the “Latino vote,” that detail is eclipsed by voters who said they backed Republicans because the president signed their stimulus checks.
And it ignores
Sen. John Cornyn (R), who backed the repeal of Obamacare, rode into South Texas like a cacique to claim credit for federal Covid-19 funding and walked away with the endorsement of some one hundred elected officials and power players.
Significantly, the Biden/Harris ticket received more votes than Hillary Clinton four years ago with record turnout in metro areas where those groups operate—with nearly 80 percent of Latinos backing Democrats, according to an analysis by UCLA’s Latino Policy and Politics Initiative.
“Latino vote” debates suceeded in overlooking the history making voter turnout and political organizing that reshaped the political landscape in Texas and Arizona.
True to form, after the election, adherents of the “Latino vote” began analyzing how Latinos “failed” Democrats, ignoring the consequential impact of Latino voters and, unsurprisingly, crediting Democratic gains to white voters. On election night, I asked Crystal Zermeño, TOP’s director of electoral strategy, if such narratives represent an attempt, including by some Democrats, to diminish triumphs of Black and Latino voters. She chuckled darkly and said, “they don’t track it and then they don’t know what to do with it.” To do so would mean abandoning mirages filled with fantasy Latinos and instead redrawing a winning map.