There are many among us who do not study, savor or digest history of any sort much less American and/or Mexican history. Those people disregard history and prefer only to live today and look to the future.
Take American Hispanics. They are ethnically centric as they should be, but in the process manage to not see the big picture and how they fit in in American politics.
Numbers first: There are more people of Mexican heritage within sight of Los Angeles than all the Cubans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans in the U.S. combined. Fact: two thirds of all American Hispanics are of Mexican background.
Will Mexican Americans be bought with government cash and goodies, or will they remember that Democrats invaded Mexico three times and never elected Mexican American Governor until a century after Republicans did?
- Raoul Lowery-Contreras
Nonetheless, the media treats all such ethnic specific populations the same, despite longstanding political differences. Puerto Ricans as a rule can hardly understand the Mexican American; conversely, Mexican-background people don’t know much about Cuban and Puerto Rican problems and views.
There are no mariachi bands or rodeos in Puerto Rico, those are Mexican; there are no tacos, burritos, enchiladas or chile rellenos in Puerto Rico. They are Mexican and “American” where Mexican restaurants proliferate and Puerto Rican and Cuban do not.
If someone says “Boricua,” Mexicans have no idea what that means. Some Puerto Ricans call themselves “Boricuans” trying to identify with native peoples who lived in Puerto Rico when Columbus discovered it.
Nonetheless, because there are a couple of million Puerto Ricans in New York and other eastern cities and towns, many think they are the quintessential American Hispanic. Because there are many Cubans in Florida many think there are far more Cubans than there really are.
Two thirds of American Hispanics are of Mexican background. That is why the Mexican American political future is absolutely essential to the American political process. How Mexican Americans vote may determine the future of the country.
Let us be clear, voting habits of American Hispanics are totally predictable when one looks historically at the specific groups. Puerto Ricans are solidly Democrat, so are Dominicans in percentages (80-90 percent) that approach that of American blacks.
Older Cubans are reliably Republican because Democrats – they feel – handed Cuba over to the Communists at the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961 that President Kennedy caused when he reneged on his promise of air support to American-trained Cubans. Younger Cubans with no memory of having been run out of Cuba have tended in recent years to vote Democrat, but the percentages are still 50-50.
Mexican Americans have a long history of voting more Republican than Puerto Ricans and Dominicans who rarely have (Rudy Giuliani was one case). American political history is replete with Mexican American Republicans winning and holding high office decades before the first Democrat Mexican American won a statewide race.
For example, Romualdo Pacheco, born a Mexican citizen in Mexican California, was first elected to the California State Senate in 1857 as a Republican. In 1861 Governor Leland Stanford appointed Senator Pacheco Brigadier General and Commanding Officer of the California Native Cavalry, a Union armed force that disarmed Confederate sympathizers in Southern California.
Senator Pacheco was elected California State Treasurer in 1863 where he served until 1867. He returned to the State Senate. He was elected Lt. Governor in 1871 and served until he became governor when Governor Newton Booth was elected to the U.S. Senate.
Republican Pacheco served as governor for a year. He ran for Congress in 1877 and defeated an incumbent by one vote. He served in Congress until his defeated opponent convinced his old House colleagues to accept him rather than Pacheco. Pacheco came back a year later and defeated the incumbent again. He served two terms. In 1890 Pacheco was appointed Ambassador to Central America and its various countries.
Paralleling this California experience, Mexican American Donaciano Vigil was appointed the second Territorial Governor of New Mexico in 1847. Miguel Otero was appointed Territorial Governor in 1897 by Republican President McKinley and served until 1906. After New Mexico Became a state, Mexican American Republican Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazalo was elected Governor of New Mexico in 1919. He was elected United States Senator in 1928.
Marco Rubio is the first Republican Cuban elected Senator with Florida also scoring a Spanish-descent Republican governor in Bob Martinez in 1987. No Puerto Rican has been elected Governor or Senator of any state.
Given the Mexican American tradition of Republican politics dating back 138 years, one wonders why so many think that they will vote Democrat overwhelmingly in the future.
Democrat President Woodrow Wilson invaded Mexico twice in 1914 and 1916. Democrat President Polk fomented war with Mexico in 1846 in order to steal California and the Southwest.
Democrats appeal to Mexican Americans with food stamps, welfare and Obamacare. Will Mexican Americans be bought with government cash and goodies, or will they remember that Democrats invaded Mexico three times and never elected Mexican American Governor until a century after Republicans did?
Raoul Lowery Contreras is a political consultant. He was formerly with the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate. Contreras's books are available at Amazon.com