“Come Latino! Sit at my table! I prepared a taco for you. You can wash that down with some Malta. Relax while I put on some ranchero.” If you heard these words from a non-Latino, you’d probably be offended. As a diverse people living in America, generalizations are one of the worst ways to describe us. Yet, a similar event occurs every day at the great table that is American democracy. In spite of our diversity, is it often assumed that politically, Latinos want to sit on the left, and those who do otherwise are often considered misanthropic outsiders. In reality, the contrary is true; to be a conservative Latino is to stay true to one’s values as a Latino and as an American.
Latinos who have sided with the conservatives in the Republican Party have been hounded as traitors. Recent articles in this very magazine have called into question the ethnic loyalties of the newly elected Latina governor of New Mexico and a congressmen from Illinois. The flawed argument of both these respectable authors is clear: because “politician X” takes “conservative stance Y,” “politician X” is a sell-out.
Latinos are not monoliths, so taking a conservative stance is not the antithesis of being Latino. Many of us were raised with Christian values that taught us to respect life in all forms, so it’s only natural we would feel inclined to support the H.R.3: No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. Like members of every other group in the country, many of us want to be rich one day, so one can’t blame Hispanic Chambers of Commerce for opposing anti-business legislation. Finally, most of us arrived in the United States legally or were born here, so please excuse us for insisting that others arrive here the same way.
Let’s face the reality, the number of Latinos in public office is growing. Many of them are Republicans, and they weren’t just elected by Anglos. The Dallas Morning News highlighted a study that showed that more than half of the state’s Hispanics identified themselves as conservatives. Politicians like Marco Rubio and Susana Martinez are not anomalies, they are the future.
In my university days, I was vice president of the Brooklyn College Young Republicans as well as a member of the college Hispanic Society. I was happy with my participation in both groups, and the only people who gave me grief about being a Hispanic Republican were individuals whom I would never associate with regardless. I am a Latino, I am proud to be American, and when we break bread together, I refuse to sit towards your left.