Like any sport, politics is an offensive and defensive game. Like any game, you can usually tell who is winning by who is attacking and who is defending. When you’ve been attacked over and over, you might have the tendency to start cheating, and in politics, this is done by lying about your opponent.
This week Romney’s campaign hit an all-time low by releasing their worst attack ad to our Latino audience. The ad features a Mexican businessman and is the Latino version of the “These Hands” ad. The ad attacks the President and features comments he made saying that people who built companies and were successful did not do it alone.
Unless you’re an angry Republican, you got what the President was saying and can see how this ad is playing to the worst in human nature. The “These Hands” ad is meant to appeal to our ego and reveals more about the selfish un-American nature plaguing modern conservative thought. The ad tells you “no one helped you — you did it all yourself.”
As a small-business owner, I am sick of these arrogant attacks from the right. No one says you build a business without hard work, but to argue against the role mentors, friends and family play in making each of us a success is just plain stupid (yeah, I said it). To say that we owe all of our success to our own work is an even greater cultural insult to Latinos.
All but the most self-absorbed, bitter and angry-with-the-world Latino will tell you that they made it with great help from others. How many of us will attest to the fathers and mothers who worked everyday so that we could get through school? How many of us will say with heartfelt thanks that a teacher, a mentor, or someone else played a great role in our lives that contributed to our success?
Latinos are all descendents of immigrants and, if we were properly raised, carry that same cultural ethic. Hard work + strong community = success. Romney and modern conservatism want to attack this American belief by categorizing it with bad terms like “socialism.” Unfortunately for him, our community is not that dumb.
Just like you, I put in long hours every week and don’t need to be told about how hard I am working at my own success. In fact the worst thing for me or our country to do right now is get self-absorbed. We are in hard financial times, and this economy will be built by more people coming together.
It is only natural instinct when times get tough to focus only on yourself, funny how every successful person I have ever met doesn’t have that attitude. Having reached 40, I see many mentors who helped me grow, and I actively look for bright young people I can mentor. I have found that many hands help build great things.
So while I disagree with everything the ad stands for, I do like the title. Yes, Mr. Romney, it will be “these hands” that help build America. “These” implies multiple hands, not just two. I am sure you will get a nice small following of self-absorbed people who agree with your message, that it is all about them. I’m not worried, because people like that only get so far.
The rest of us have a country we want to keep building together.
Jose Cruz is the editor of OurTiempo.com worked in the Clinton White House and on three Presidential campaigns. He is the founder of ImmigrationPAC a pro-comprehensive immigration reform Federal Political Action Committee and active political commentator.