News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Friday, January 14, 2011

Politics and Bedfellows

Congratulations to Lance Rios. His Facebook page "Being Latino" has become one of social media's most popular gathering spot for Latinos. And that influence was vividly demonstrated in a recently-announced reciprocal content agreement between Being Latino and FOX News Latino.

Although my personal politics do not fall into the FOX camp, I am pleased by this developement. First of all, I'm happy for Lance, whose hard work and ignenuity deserves recognition. Second, this partnership helps push the influence of social media up another notch. And finally, I think it has the potential for being a postive step for the entire nation.

Anyone who knows my personal politics may be surprised by that statement. But those who long ago said "politics make strange bedfellows" were not fools.

Right now, the majority of Latino voters are presumed to be solidly in the Democratic camp. (The reality is much more complex. But it's perceptions that shape the actions of politicians.) As a result of this widely held belief, Latinos have been taken for granted by the Democrats (who only give us empty promises) and ignored by Republicans (who feel they can demonize us with impunity in districts where Latinos are not a majority).

However, when Latinos can exert influence in BOTH parties, we will not be so easy to ignore -- or impugn.

It still remains to be seen whether a leopard can change its spots. Many Republicans continue to pander to the xenophobes within their ranks by supporting legislation like Arizona's SB 1070 or attempts to gut the 14th Amendment. This is political theatre at its worst. But some in the GOP are waking up and smelling the coffee.

This deal with Being Latino is not an isolated event. FOX is echoing what seems to be a clear GOP strategy of reaching out to Latinos. (You have to give the conservative media machine credit for staying on message. They are always in lock step.)

Jeb Bush (with Karl Rove calling plays from the sidelines) is spearheading the Hispanic Leadership Network to try and woo Latino voters. In fact, Jeb Bush went so far as to say it was “incredibly stupid” for the GOP to ignore Latino voters. And Bush is right. It IS incredibly stupid to ignore the fastest growing voter segment. One problem remains for the GOP, though: Bigots are usually stupid.

I'm no Polyanna. The GOP has made sizeable gains across the nation in November and the party is stronger than its been for years. The leadership of the party may have realized Republicans can afford to burn some political capital and risk alienating "the base" with an outreach to Latinos -- for the moment. However, don't be surprised if the race-baiting returns come election time.

For now, let's be hard-nosed and pragmatic. We all have something to gain -- even if it's short-lived.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez


julito77 said...

Raul, this is a very insightful and excellent post. I agree with you, all of a sudden the GOP is looking at the Latino voting bloc. Outside the traditional pockets of southern Fl and maybe Texas, the GOP has never embraced the Latino populace. I see recent developments as positive ones, but I agree with you, it feels a bit perplexing yet gratifying. The real push is when we see mainstream FOX NEWS start to tone its tenor down.

beinglatino said...

My personal political views have not been inline with what Fox News has produced previously either. And although I do think that Fox News hasn't done the best in portraying Latinos to the mainstream, Fox News Latino is taking a more balanced approach at news for us AND by us.

Either way, extremely compelling piece. Thank you for writing about it. I'm curious to see where this takes "us" as a whole.

Anonymous said...

Spot on! While this is an incredible feat for BL and Latinos, we must pay close attention to how FOX will use this as a tactic that might undermine Latino causes as a whole!

Raul Ramos y Sanchez said...

Good to hear from both of you, Julio and Lance.

Raul Colon said...

Raul, Once again thanks for being very responsible and keeping track of the possible intentions of this exposure.

I asked the same questions although like you I was very happy that Lance and Louis had the opportunity to present themselves.

Great post which I will share!

Reina I. Valenzuela said...

Great post Raul!

In my view this an smart move by FOX and a step in the right direction. We have long road ahead but to participate in the dialogue, we must be at the table.

We can speak out but are they really listening?


Adrian Carrasquillo said...

A thoughtful post, Raul. What I hope people will come to see (and I know it will only happen in time) is that we have an editorial process that is our own. The same way I wouldn't saunter over to the FN Business team and tell them how to do their job, no one tells us what to do.

I hope that everyone will check the site regularly and see for themselves. Because after all, if anyone is just drawing wild conclusions without looking at our site and social media efforts -- then they're guilty of exactly the thing that they decry.

Lastly Raul, I see the issue you are passionate about. I urge you to follow my colleague @LlorenteLatino on Twitter. A trailblazing immigration reporter for 20+ years. Her coverage of the immigration issue is must-read stuff. Thanks again for taking time to write about us. I hope you will engage in the coming months.

Reina I. Valenzuela said...

Adrian / Raul

The fact that Elizabeth Llorente is part of FNL team makes me feel very optimistic. I've known her and her work since the 90's covering Immigration and Ethnic topics for the Bergen Record. The CEUS community center (Union City, NJ) where I volunteer, honored her in 2008 for her investigation of abuses at the immigration detention center in Elizabeth, NJ and for her series "A Tale of Two Cultures" sharing the experience of Korean and Guatemalan immigrants in a small town of North Jersey.

She is very objective and thorough in her writings.
I can vouch for her, she is awesome!


Raul Ramos y Sanchez said...

Reina, thanks for sharing the credentials of Elizabeth Llorente at FOX News Latino. I feel confident about her journalistic integrity. At the same time, it's important to realize FOX News Latino is a website and not a broadcast venue. As such, we can expect FOX News to give FNL more latitude than they typically give to their broadcast programs to "stay on message." Media industry watchdogs have reported FOX News issues a daily memo of the issues to be discussed that day. The FOX editorial commentators launch the issue. Then the news teams report on the issue as "a controversial topic" being discussed in the media. FOX News is a highly effective, if not insidious, propaganda machine. While I applaud the content exchange between FNL and Being Latino, we should also be aware that we are dealing with very astute media manipulators. Latinos risk being window dressing for FOX's claims to diversity unless our messages remain authentic and uncompromising.

Interestingly, I believe the Democrats may already be reacting to the GOP Latino initiative, as you'll see in my most recent post.