Fourteen months out, it's a safe bet that Election 2012 won't hinge on immigration. But with no major federal action on the issue since 1986, and Hispanics poised to be a much larger portion of America's population by mid-century, immigration may decide Election 2016 or 2020. When that happens, look out for Juan Rangel.I could relate that last paragraph in the excerpt to yesterday's post about the almost non-existant Republican outreach to Black Americans. Could almost be the same approach with the Hispanics. I don't know about treating all Hispanics young and old like they might Blacks. Or at that the entitlement mentality or indeed as I may "whine" using history of which party did one ethnic group support in the past.
Mr. Rangel, 45, probably won't be atop a ticket, but his standing—and that of his ideas—will reveal much about the nature of Hispanic politics in America. In particular, they'll signal whether this vibrant and growing demographic favors the sectarian identity politics of its highest-profile advocacy groups—or the alternative approach that Mr. Rangel has been cultivating quietly for 15 years.
According to Mr. Rangel—CEO of Chicago's United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) and co-chair of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's recent election campaign—the central question for Hispanics to answer as they grow in number and potential political influence is: "Do we want to be the next victimized minority group in America, or do we want to be the next successful immigrant group?"
This is a weighty question, especially given Mr. Rangel's observation that for three decades the most powerful Hispanic organizations in the country—such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (Maldef) and the National Council of La Raza ("The Race")—have, with the cooperation of the political class, empowered and enriched themselves by stressing the victimhood of Hispanics in American society. "I think we're living in a very politically correct society that almost values victimization," Mr. Rangel laments.
What's more, he explains, the leaders who built these Hispanic organizations modeled them on the 1960s civil-rights movement of African-Americans. This was understandable, Mr. Rangel argues, but gravely mistaken.
"Hispanics haven't endured the same suffering and struggles of the African-American community," he says. Hispanics' "struggles are different. Their struggles come from a desire to get ahead and leaving their nation and coming to a new land. And those are tough things, but there's no way that you can compare that struggle to the struggles of slavery and Jim Crow and Reconstruction. There's just no comparison."
No matter to politicos—they've bought into this narrative in legions. "Democrats are so intent on making Hispanics the next victimized minority seeking entitlement programs and all that, that the Republicans are starting to believe it!" exclaims Mr. Rangel. "And they're wrong on both ends. This is a great community that's poised to do great things—but you gotta challenge it. Don't pander to it."
BTW, it needs to be asked. How do we beat the whole victimization mentality?
Here's something else worth nothing although you should read the whole thing:
America has "lost sight of what the public schools were intended to do and what we need to do to help students feel that they're part of a whole," says Mr. Rangel, whose Mexican parents immigrated in the 1950s, his second-grade-educated mother never having heard of the United States until his father announced their impending emigration. "We need to get back to what the purpose of a public school was intended to be. That's to create not just educated and engaged citizens, but educated and engaged American citizens."Well education we all agree is very important. I won't just put education squarely on the lap of the public school system. Even if it is to produce an educated and engaged American citizen. Perhaps we have lost sight of what education is supposed to do here in the states.
And why are American schools generally falling down on this responsibility? "Some people might say because there's an emphasis on reading and math. . . . But I think a bigger factor—and a more dangerous factor—is the political correctness around patriotism, around love of country. Somehow people view those things as kind of clichés," says Mr. Rangel. "That's more dangerous than any standardized testing that people complain about. We need to re-examine our values as a nation and re-examine whether we have the political will—or just the will—to engender a sense of love of country within our youth."