Political Science Professor at Columbia University
Now that the public is so justifiably disgusted by politics as usual, perhaps it will be possible to persuade political leaders to agree to such commissions if they were designed based on a combination of partisan politics and population. Each party would get a proportion of seats based on the census population totals and the percentage of votes it received in the last presidential election. The independent commission would allocate each party the number of seats to which it is entitled and then settle disputes over district configuration to insure that the majority party does not exploits its status to design new districts at the expense of the minority party.
Rodolfo de la Garza, a Political Science Professor at Columbia University and a regular blogger on Its a Free Country, weighs in on the troubled political history of his home state of Arizona in light of Saturday's shootings.
I was raised in Tucson’s Barrio Hollywood, lived in Arizona for the first 30 years of my life and considered it home even after I left to begin my academic career. My memories are good and bad. The good include the pleasures of youth complemented by great food, especially the uniquely savory carne seca chimichangas and green corn tamales that are the best I have ever tasted. The bad include discrimination of varying types and intensity.
But the state’s apparent commitment to resuscitating its myopic and racist past weighs increasingly on my estrangement from my home state.
The Republican led defeat of the Dream Act offers one more example in the well established tradition of the GOP rejecting major Latino policy preferences. It maintains the tradition sustained by California’s Proposition 187 that voters approved in 1994. Proposition 187 laid the foundation for the pro-immigrant Democratic take-over of California that continues through today, and became a symbol used by to mobilize Latinos against Republicans nationwide. Arizona’s 2010 anti-undocumented immigration legislation maintains this tradition and, like Proposition 187, had significant electoral consequences within Arizona and nationally. It has mobilized anti-immigrant sentiment and helped carry Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer to victory.
In this lame duck interlude, let’s pause and consider our nation’s debilitating trajectory. There’s fierce, seething partisanship in Washington. It worries Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman to the point that he warns “there will be blood sooner or later. And we can only hope that the nation that emerges from that blood bath is still one we recognize. “
For the good of our country, we must abandon partisan shenanigans that are essentially techniques intended to impede or reduce African American and Latino turnout. We also have to pay attention to how systemic inequalities affect minority voters’ ability to fully participate. Together, these practices bias elections in favor of "white voters," reduce the size of the electorate, and deny minorities unfettered access to the polls.
The Pew Hispanic Center reports that almost 75 percent of a nationally representative sample of Latinos either cannot identify anyone they consider to be “the most important Latino leader in the country today” or state there is no Latino national leader. How can we explain this?
New York’s Puerto Ricans used to be the eastern standard bearers of the nation’s Latino political struggles, led by a combination of radicals like The Young Lords and successful centrist politicians like Congressmen Herman Badillo and Bobby Garcia and Councilman Freddie Ferrer. But thanks in part to the Voting Rights Act, that influence is fading.
History might show that the Tea Party Republican (TPR) victory launched the presidential career of Florida Senator-elect Marco Rubio. His personal characteristics — a strong family man, religious, an attorney, handsome, articulate and charismatic — plus the possibility that he will bring the Latino vote to the TRP tent, make him a most appealing candidate.
The Tea Party Republican electoral triumph resulted in changing the Latino political map. With the exception of Henry Bonilla, a Republican elected to Congress from San Antonio in 1999, it had been almost a century since Latino Republicans had won major contests in states other than Florida. In 2010, they elected two Congressmen in Texas, one in Washington and Idaho and governors in New Mexico and Nevada.
The Republican congressional majority in Congress is likely to take on immigration reform. This is what the beginning of a successful policy should look like.
Tea Party candidates and their conservative supporters claim that their objective is to restore the founding principles of the Constitution to modern governance. Their rhetoric suggests, however, that they don't understand that the Constitution includes its 27 amendments. In combination, this means our Constitution emphasizes individual rights, limited government and the separation of powers, core elements that have served us well and merit our permanent respect. Ironically, not since 1860 have candidates in an election so intensely invoked these values while threatening their very existence.
For five decades the rules governing Cuban migration have been dictated by foreign policy concerns. This led officials to define them as refugees, i. e., individuals who had to escape their homeland because of a well-founded fear of persecution. Today, the social and political conditions Cubans face are not obviously more dire than those faced by citizens in other major immigrant sending states.
To be effective, immigration policy must be designed in collaboration with immigrant-sending states. Otherwise, reforms will result in little more than maintaining the array of punitive measures that dominate how we deal with immigrants currently.
The nation needs a new immigration policy. In a way, pro-immigrant advocates may owe Arizona a vote of thanks. Because of that state’s recent attempt to create new policy on its own, the unexpected positive benefit is that conditions are now favorable to confronting this problem.
Pundits are predicting that the black and Latino vote can shape the results this year, something we’ve heard every election for the last 40 years. But this year, it looks possible for them to affect national politics beyond the boundaries of their districts.
The national stage is so littered by the bizarre assertions of brazen candidates that even the most thoughtful observers are confused at the prospective results of the 2010 election. How do you explain an election in which major candidates are linked to Scientology or had dates on Satanic altars?
Why don’t Latinos have more clout? Their increasing population suggests they could regularly influence elections across the Southwest as well as in Illinois and Florida. When elections are tight because Anglo votes are divided, they can even swing states like Indiana and North Carolina which they may have done in 2008. That is the conclusion pundits first reached after the 1980 census documented their rapid growth. Every census since has reinforced the claim that this continued trend, combined with geographic dispersion, has made them a key electoral force.