Friday November 30, 2012

PITTSFIELD

A few weeks ago, in the wake of the presidential election, a letter-writer to The Eagle termed the folks who voted for President Obama "useful idiots."

This being America, I didn’t take offense. I’ve been called much, much worse. (The term, by the way, has gone viral. Check Google.)

Lots of angry letters, lots of rebuttals.

But I believe that while some were understandably offended by the letter, my thought was that the letter-writer was, essentially correct. (Not the "idiots" part.)

President Obama was indeed re-elected over challenger Mitt Romney by an interesting coalition of voters. Namely, it was a cross-section of minorities, both racial and philosophical, and liberals. To me, though, the issue is that this growing voice in the United States can only get larger.

The fastest growing minority, by a large percentage, are Hispanic Americans. Both national parties would love to pull in that group in large numbers.

In the early 1980s, then-President Ronald Reagan said, "Remind Latinos that they are Republicans, they just don’t know it yet."

It is a sentiment with which I would agree. Hispanic Americans are very hard-working, family-oriented people. I live in South County, which is an area housing a large number of Hispanic families. The idiotic notion among some that they are lazy and unwilling to work is a great myth.

But I assume you see the problem. Conservatives in the Republican Party are turning away one of their best chances for dramatic growth. In fact, growth that I see as sufficient to sway an election on a national scale.

Did every Hispanic American in the U.S. vote for Obama? Of course not.

But they voted in huge percentages. It was 71 percent in Texas, 74 percent in Colorado, and 75 percent nationwide. That, as they say, is a lot.

We are seeing minorities having major influence in national policy. It’s not a theory. It’s fact. The segment of the American population that embraces it will have the advantage in the years to come.

Derek Gentile is an Eagle reporter.
Follow him on Twitter, @DerekGentile.