HOUSTON — While some pundits in various outlets have recently reported that the shift in politics shouldn’t be of concern for Democrats nationally, what’s happening in Democratic strongholds around the country, such as South Texas or Central Florida, is an alarming trend for the party. Despite their embrace of extremism and bigotry, Republicans are making inroads in various districts that Democrats routinely ignore.
Part of this can be attributed to redistricting, which has drastically cut Black and Latino voting power in states such as Texas. For Democrats relying on Latino voters as a core demographic of their party, ignoring the needs of these communities is working against them.
Meanwhile, Republicans are seizing the opportunity to meet with and earn their votes by simply showing up.
While Biden gained support from suburban voters overall, Donald Trump won over white suburban voters by four points—a group he carried by 16 points in 2016. However, Trump won 65 percent of rural voters in 2020 compared to 59 percent in 2016. In rural areas such as South Texas and Central Florida, that includes Latino voters.
In 2020, Biden maintained majority support among Black and Latino voters. But Trump gained support among both groups. In particular, Trump won 41 percent of Latino voters without a college degree compared to 30 percent of those who are college-educated.
And it wasn’t just Cubans as many often suggest. In fact, Joe Biden won the Cuban strongholds of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. Biden suffered the most in Central Florida and South Texas, where Trump saw his biggest gains.
Florida is seen as a swing state, and many thought the possibility of Texas turning blue was becoming a reality. Those pundits, however, never reached out to Latinos residing in the areas in question, as Republicans made many appearances addressing the issues Democrats ignored. Biden’s campaign focused solely on South Florida and the Cuban vote, which we now know was a calculated error.
State of the Union
Democrats continue to fail to address the notion that Black and Latino voters can be more conservative than they realize. Religion plays a major role. That doesn’t mean these groups buy into the Republican brand of conservatism, which has embraced bigotry and extremism, but it speaks to more moderate views, such as not being interested in defunding the police, or taking a harder stance on immigration reform, especially in the way the right frames such topics.
Black people have historically played an outsized role in electing Democrats, only to be ignored after Election Day—which has never been more apparent than now. Without the Black vote, Democrats can’t win in many areas of the country. It would be unfair to assume Black voters would vote for Republicans, but if just a small percentage chose not to vote, Democrats would suffer great losses in the upcoming midterm elections and in 2024.
Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address left much to be desired for many voters. His continued efforts to court conservatives, particularly those that have embraced extremist views, led him to conflate securing the border with immigration and to assert that he intends to give police more money without accountability. If the administration is content with leaving it up to cities and states to hold the police to the same standards as the rest of us, then they are satisfied with alienating their primary voters.
Democrats in Congress are also failing to live up to their commitments. Many will point to Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) for not achieving what was promised, but what does that say for Democrats as a whole?
In previous years, Democrats also failed to live up to their campaign promises, tossing immigration and criminal justice reform aside despite having a president in the White House and a majority in both houses of Congress.
Packing It Up
While Joe Biden continues appealing to conservative white voters, he’s alienating Black and Latino voters in droves. He has yet to discuss any of the promises made regarding racial justice. He did fulfill his promise to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court, but that doesn’t accomplish much for a Black community that has been left behind socially, politically, and economically.
For Latinos, there is far less to lose when candidates don’t follow through on their promises. The immigrant community —which includes many green card backloggers from India— has been more than frustrated with the Democrats’ promised immigration reform. Republicans are more in tune with reforming the process and granting citizenship than Democrats are at this point. It is there that Republicans stand a chance of taking some of the Democrats’ base away from the party.
With Spanish-language misinformation at an all-time high and social media companies doing little to nothing about it, it stands to reason that Republicans have a better chance than anyone cares to admit. Biden’s State of the Union Address was more about what he didn’t say and less about what he did—particularly for the Black, Latino, and immigrant communities.
If Democrats want to survive this political disaster —one which they partially created— then they must start paying closer attention to Black and Latino voters. Otherwise, they may as well start packing up their offices.
As it stands now, many of these voters intend to stay home for the upcoming midterms. And considering that midterm elections historically have much lower voter turnouts than other elections, that doesn’t bode well for anyone except extremists. If the Black and Latino communities don’t vote or jump ship, Republicans and their platform of bigotry will take over with ease.
Tapping Untapped Markets
Aside from social media companies failing to shut down Spanish-language misinformation, the opportunity to tap into the largely untapped market of fact-based Black and Latino-specific political commentary has been missed by many. Conservatives, however, have not just broken down barriers in the Spanish-language misinformation arena on social media, they’ve been dominating the talk radio airwaves for several decades.
While some in the Black community have seized on the opportunity to monetize conservative political commentary, the Latino community has seen an explosion in misinformation being spread. For every Candace Owens or Diamond and Silk, Latinos have entire networks devoted to ultra-conservatism. That may not seem like a big deal, but the open embrace of bigotry and extremism by modern-day conservative politics goes beyond a difference in opinion.
Enter Americano Media.
Not to be confused with The Americano, owned by civic media company Courier Newsroom, Americano Media was founded by Ivan Garcia-Hidalgo, “one of the first to support Donald Trump in all Spanish-language media,” according to his bio. Garcia-Hidalgo is a Trump surrogate who once argued that, in order to counteract “liberal bias” in Spanish-language media, Latinos needed a “Rush Limbaugh in Spanish”
As liberals continue to ignore more conservative Latinos who routinely vote Democrat, far-right ideologues are paying attention. Americano Media’s approach is one that targets specific Latino communities —from Cubans and Dominicans to Colombians and Venezuelans— and doing so by putting members of these communities front and center.
The most problematic issue with the new venture isn’t its founder, its directors with far-right views, or its hosts, but the white nationalist rhetoric. Their “About” page is riddled with dog-whistles made popular by Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, and echoed by Afro-Cuban Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio. This coded language, however, has been translated into Spanish and is being used as talking points to target the Latino populations Democrats have ignored.
Talk of defending “true identity” and “promoting brotherhood,” alongside phrasing such as taking pride in “language and defending Western principles and values,” reeks of the same language many hate groups use.
While outlets such as Americano Media assert that they will be “exercising ethical and credible journalism, with analysis and important debates through truthful content and entertainment that supports our American values,” then it should be safe to assume they won’t mind being challenged with actual facts from time to time. If they are to “adhere to the highest standards of professionalism and ethics,” as they claim, then it’s up to us to hold them to it.
Extremism cannot go unchallenged.
Arturo Domínquez is a first-generation Cuban American father of three young men, an anti-racist, journalist, and publisher of The Antagonist Magazine. If you’d like to learn more about the issues covered here, follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also support his work here and here.