The hierarchy of television networks is usually said to consist of six major players: the Top Four (NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox); the Next Two (UPN and WB, fighting for fifth place).
While admiring the cover of Ramos' new book, The Latino Wave: How Hispanics Will Elect the Next American President, my wife and I got into an argument over whether his piercing eyes were closer in color to the Oxford blue of his customary shirt, or to the turquoise background that the art director has added to emphasize the blueness of his orbs.
But in either case, this blue eyes-centric cover hammers home the message that's essential to his enormous popularity among Spanish-speaking viewers: Ramos isn't some dusky peon, but a descendent of Conquistadors—on both sides of his family.
Yet, curiously, in this book celebrating the Latinoization of the U.S., Ramos doesn't mention his Hispanic culture's fetishization of blue eyes and fair hair—notoriously exemplified by the countless blonde bimbas seen on Univision—as one of the gifts that massive immigration is bringing to America.
Ramos is an important new phenomenon. In the past, Mexicans with Ramos' charisma typically either stayed home and enjoyed the sweet life as part of the ruling elite; or (like, say, actor Ricardo Montalban) they moved to America and tried to make it in the enormous English-language market. This provided pro-assimilation role models for their fellow immigrants.
The post-1965 immigration disaster, however, is allowing Ramos to enjoy the best of both worlds. He can make it big in America while still living in a Latin cocoon in Florida.
And that encourages him to use his celebrity to promote Latin cultural hegemony within the United States. Ramos sees immigration and the high Hispanic birthrate as Latinoizing America. And, as a Latino celebrity, he strongly favors Latin demographic imperialism.
Ramos is a man with a mission: keeping Latinos from fully assimilating into the American mainstream. He writes:
"I'm not one of those people who thinks that the common bond that unites those of us who live in the United States is the English language. No, I believe that this country's two main characteristics are its acceptance of immigrants and its tolerance for diversity. These things are what bind us together; we're here thanks to these unifying principles. That's what it means to be an American. Not your ability to speak English. Talk to me in Spanish … or at least try. I sometimes go entire days without having to speak a single word of English…"
Of course, if Americans be persuaded that English is no longer the nation's common bond, Hispanics can continue watching Univision's Spanish-language broadcasts.
Mr. Perenchio must be pleased to have such a loyal lackey. Reading this book, I lost track of how many times Ramos argues that various politicians doomed their campaigns by not buying enough spots on Univision. For example:
Ramos seems to be succeeding in rallying his faction. He claims that the percentage of Hispanic voters in America who watch the news in Spanish grew from 25% to 45% over the last decade.
Whether it's good for American democracy and unity that two separate "information spheres" are developing here is not an issue that worries Ramos.
Whether or not it's bad for America, it's good for his bank account.
Besides, what does he care? He remains a Mexican citizen even after 21 years in the U.S.
Since Ramos wrote The Latino Wave in Spanish for his Spanish-speaking fans (it was translated by Ezra E. Fitz), he can be franker than mass immigration apologists usually are when addressing an English-speaking audience. He gloats:
"But while no fighting is taking place on the military or legal fronts, there is fighting going on culturally. It's the Reconquest. Latinos are culturally reconquering lands that once were part of the Spanish empire…"
Accordingly, much of Ramos' argument will be more familiar to readers of VDARE.com than to the gullible readers of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page. Thus while Ramos pays lip service to "proposition nation" ideology to con non-Hispanics into allowing unlimited immigration into their country, he clearly believes that ethnicity and demographics matter. And he wants his ethnic group to win.
"I had the opportunity to debate [Pat] Buchanan on television two or three times, and it has always fascinated me that the same arguments and statistics that he cites as evidence of the wrong turn that United States has made with regard to its immigration policy are the same ones that I use to underline the enormous contributions immigrants are making to this country."
Actually, Ramos doesn't make much of an effort to document exactly what cultural advantages—besides chimichangas—Americans are absorbing from Latin America.
Why should he? He cares about what's good for himself and his own people, not what's in the best interest of Americans. He thinks he has demographic momentum on his side, and both George W. Bush and John Kerry want to increase the rate of Latinoization, so why should Ramos bother trying to persuade non-Hispanics they are getting a good deal? The fix is already in.
Finally, on page 185, he does get around to devoting half a sentence to a hazy list of the virtues that Latin Americans are supposedly bringing us:
"a sense of the sacred, respect for one's elders, and constant commitment to one's family."
Needless to say, Ramos doesn't explain how that "constant commitment" can be reconciled with the 43.5 percent illegitimacy rate now found among Hispanic-Americans.
Hispanics are assimilating—but to the African-American model.
Furthermore, this TV personality's boasting about the growing political power of Hispanics really focuses attention on perhaps the two least appealing facets of Latin American culture: the awful television and the worse politics.
As an electoral analyst, Ramos is no worse than 95% of the media. But that's not saying much.
The first sentence of his Chapter One is "The Latino vote put George W. Bush into the White House."
Now, you might recall that Gore whupped Bush 62-35 among Hispanics, but that just shows you don't understand Ramos' Latino Logic. See, Bush won the critical state of Florida by only 500 votes. And more than 500 Hispanics in Florida voted for Bush! So, hesto-presto: Bush owes his Presidency to Latinos.
Of course, exactly the same thing is true for any and all demographic groups more numerous on the Florida electoral rolls than the pygmy negritos of the Andaman Islands.
The reality, as I have argued repeatedly, is that the peculiarities of the Electoral College are likely to deprive Hispanics this November of much of the influence that their six percent or so of the electorate would seemingly provide.
That's because Latinos are concentrated in states that aren't expected to be close. In only two of the 16 "battleground states" on the Wall Street Journal's list did Hispanics cast over 10 percent of the vote in 2000.
While the battleground states accounted for one third of the total vote in 2000, they were home to only 21 percent of Hispanic voters, according to my analysis of Census data.
On the other hand, the "rotten borough" effect, whereby non-citizen immigrants, including illegals, are counted in drawing up districts, means that it typically takes fewer votes to elect a Hispanic legislator. So Hispanics are increasingly over-represented in legislatures. For example, in California, 22.5 percent of the legislators are Latino, compared to only about 10 percent of the voters in 2002.
Not surprisingly, Ramos does not call attention to this bizarre and growing anomaly—which, of course, Americans could easily end through legislation.
Ramos claims that both parties should bid frantically for the Hispanic vote (on Univision?) because it could easily shift from Democrats to Republicans.
But the truth is that the Hispanic partisan slant is boringly consistent. Every year, you can bet the house that the Democrats will win the Hispanic vote in a landslide.
The Hispanic vote fluctuates in parallel with the white vote—but many points further to the left. For example, in the last dozen House of Representatives overall races going back through 1980, the GOP's national share of the Latino vote has never been more than 28 points worse than its share of the white vote, or less than 19 points worse.
But it has always been worse—a lot worse. The inexorable logic of this situation: Hispanic immigration is a long-term disaster for the GOP.
What have four years of Hispandering netted Bush? Predictably nothing. In 2000, he lost 62-35 among Latinos. Polls conducted just before the Democratic Convention showed him losing to John Kerry 60-30 and 60-32.
That puts Bush on track to do a couple of points worse this year among Latinos.
So much for Jorge Ramos' huffing and puffing—and Karl Rove's.