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22 October 2008

Where I grew up, politicians always at least put up a few billboards in the local minority languages — Italian, Polish, Ukrainian. Spanish has always been a minority language in the United States, and there is really nothing surprising about Spanish-language advertising. This television ad from 1960 is unusual, only in that one candidate had a spouse who could speak the language:

With “immigrants” (or, more precisely “illegal immigrants” ) expected to be this election’s commie-menace, I am surprised the issue has not come up.  In some ways, given that neither candidate is “politically correct” within their own party on this issue (Senator McCain, being relatively enlightened in a party that has pushed anti-immigration as an issue and Senator Obama having a poor record on the issue in a party supposedly pro-immigrant, or at least less anti-immigrant) there isn’t much sense in bringing it up.


Fallout from those attempts to create an “illegal immigration crisis” have profoundly effected Spanish-speaking voters.   Stace Medillin’s “Dos Centavos” tipped me off to an article by Hernán Rozemberg, originally in the San Antonio News-Express (my link is to the Houston Chronicle):

…for nearly a month, unbeknownst to much of the country, the two presidential contenders have been slugging away at  each other on immigration through Spanish-language advertisements in crucial swing states with growing Latino populations whose votes could sway the election.

The ads, running on Spanish-language television and radio in states such as Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico feature Democratic candidate Barack Obama and Republican nominee John McCain pointing fingers at each other for not having done enough on immigration.

Stace points out that most “Hispanics” — the presumed audience for the ads now on U.S. Spanish language stations — do speak English (usually as their first language) — and questions the effectiveness of these ads. However, even though this probably will not be a close election, it may be in those states, and both parties are conscious of the need for reaching every potential voter.  The only unusual things is that the issues are narrowly focused on immigration and that political ads in languages other than English are even commented on.  In the Chronicle article, you find a lot of people who think that citizens must speak English.  Nope… there have been Spanish-speaking citizens in the U.S. for a very, very long time, and naturalized citizens need to be able to understand English… something some commenators on the Chron article fail to understand.  Maybe they need to learn English, too.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr. Rushing permalink
    22 October 2008 10:57 am

    George W. Bush speaks Spanish and was Pro Guest Worker Program before his base went nuts. Still hasn’t helped him or his party when it comes to “Hispanic” voters. Cubans are more likely to vote Republican and all along the border of Texas, Spanish Speaking Democrats win elections.

  2. 22 October 2008 11:22 am

    G.W. speaks Spanglish, and not exactly fluently. When he addressed the Spanish Parliament, they couldn’t understand a word he was saying. Nothing wrong with Spanglish, but it’s not Spanish. LBJ could swear in fluent Spanish, but probably Taft was the last President who spoke it with any fluency.

  3. Mr. Rushing permalink
    22 October 2008 11:45 am

    Spanglish is more of an effort than what the Democrats typically put out for the national scene.

    I am just pointing out that appealing to hispanic voters is pretty useless if they do not follow your same ideology.

    Democrats would become the huge anti imigration hawks that they were up until the early 1970’s if the Republican base were to support improved immigration. They were the ones who opposed NAFTA and other Latin American trade agreements this was in order to satisfy the protectionists on both sides of the aisle specifically the Union Buy American Activists and the Detroit Big 3 voters.

    Protectionism is a fundamental issue in socialism, free trade is a threat to the socialists country’s industry and interests and therefore can not be allowed.

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