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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Conservative Latinos Resist Family Pressures

Gil Dominguz

Because I am a Latino, most people automatically assume that I am either a liberal or a Democrat, or both. In fact, I am one of those rare creatures: a conservative Hispanic. The unfortunate truth is that the majority of Latinos in my hometown of San Antonio and elsewhere are Democrats, even though they may not share all of the national party's social views or vote in every election. About the only Latino group that is an exception are the Cubans.

Party identification is an inherited family trait, passed down from generation to generation. My wife and I, however, have broken the chain, much to the dismay and even animosity of our respective families. I once told my younger sister that I was leaning more toward the Republican Party, and she responded mockingly: "Where do you get that from?" as if I had contracted a contagious disease. She was dismissive of my views despite the fact that she has a high school diploma and I have a master's in government.

But my sister, like many other Latinos, has always identified strongly with the Democratic Party, which is more of an emotional bond than an intellectual one. I remember as a kid hearing some of the older folks speaking fondly of "el viejito" Roosevelt -- old man Roosevelt -- only they pronounced his name "Rosabell." In some homes, decorative plates with the visage of JFK painted on them were proudly displayed on walls or cupboards. In other homes, a photo of the late president sat atop a home altar, next to a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe. More than once I have heard a Latino declare that he or she is "a Catholic and a Democrat" -- an incongruous marrying of the sacred and the profane. The implication is that they are no more likely to change religion than party affiliation.

My late father-in-law, a blue-collar union member, was a socially conservative family man, although that didn't stop him from voting for candidate Bill Clinton. There, of course, had been questions about Clinton's veracity and questionable moral judgment -- including possible drug use, draft-dodging, and philandering -- but those things weren't as important as the fact that Clinton was a Democrat.

Read it all here.

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