It is funny how the two political parties are acting to the changing Hispanic political preferences these days.
More and more, Hispanics have flocked to the Republican banner in the past few elections. Democrats are dismayed because of it. It appears Democrats feel that the Republicans are poaching this key constituency.
There are a few things that both parties and many intellectuals have forgotten. First the term “Hispanic” means what? Everyone that claims European ancestry are not referred to generically as Europeans. The same is true with immigrants from the Americas. The only thing most nationalities have in common is that they speak a form of Spanish.
In the 19th and 20th century, European immigrants tended to live in big cities. They resided mostly in neighborhoods with others who shared their nationalities. In Italian neighborhoods (and I suspect in those of the Irish and Poles), immigrants from entire villages would live in the same building, most being related in some way.
For those immigrants, being a Democrat in those neighborhoods became ingrained in their DNA. The clubhouse found jobs and solved their problems with government, landlords, and the outside world. In return, the party received their votes each and every election day.
With prosperity came the desire to leave the old neighborhood and buy your own home. At first, those new neighborhoods were also fairly segregated by ethnic group and then as time went on, by religion. Irish and Italians began living in closer proximity and attending the same Catholic Churches and schools.
By the time the 2nd generation came along, sir names were ethnic but everything else was American. Most in that 2nd generation could not even speak the mother tongue. They still might like their perogies, macaroni, and stew, but no one could mistake them as someone from the old country.
The same is happening to Hispanics. While their grandfathers were immigrant laborers, by the time the 2nd generation came along, college and the professions were a very viable option. And to those that are children of great and great-great immigrant ancestors, everything is possible.
Americans of Hispanic origin mostly Mexican in the Southwest and California have been here for generations. Many have climbed the economic ladder and now have left the Democrats. It is ridiculous to believe that any one party owns any one group. For a hundred years, most Blacks were Republicans because of the actions of Lincoln. FDR began to break that hold. By the time of LBJ, it was the Democrats that championed civil rights as more and more southerners became Republican and were associated with segregation.
With the Americanization of Hispanics, we see the integration of that group into American life. They will choose the party that most is aligned with their beliefs. That means even as millions of people, many from Spanish speaking countries, continue to immigrate here, millions who trace their ancestry to those same parts of the world now look at themselves as Americans. We should look at that as an American success story.