July 31, 2009

Hispanics Resist the Lure of Identity Politics

As soon as Obama announced his nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who many believe is set to become the first Hispanic to sit on the Supreme Court, Democrats were quick to play the race card. Senator Chuck Schumer warned Republican senators that if they vote against her confirmation, they will do so "at their own peril," implying that a vote against her would lead to a backlash among Hispanic voters. More recently, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid echoed his colleague's warning:

"I just think that their voting against this good woman is going to treat them about the same way that they got treated as a result of their votes on immigration," Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the majority leader, said of Republicans. He was referring to the electoral losses — including among Hispanic voters, a fast-growing segment of the electorate — the GOP suffered after its spirited opposition to measures that would have given some illegal immigrants a chance to gain legal status.

See the complete story here.

Oddly enough, at least from the point of view who rise to power largely by dividing Americans into racial and class-based categories, Hispanics themselves have defied the simplistic assumption that they will support Sotomayor solely because of her ethnicity. A recent Zogby/O'Leary poll found that Hispanics are roughly divided on the question of her confirmation, with 47% in favor and 43% opposed. Moreover, 60% of Hispanics believe that a person who does not believe the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right to bear arms should not sit on the high court.

Could it be that members of a minority group can think for themselves and are capable of putting principle above petty identity politics?! Say it isn't so!