Why do American candidates for national political office keep running Spanish-language ads? Don’t they understand that our national language is English? Don’t they know that English ability is a requirement of naturalization i.e. if you can vote (legally) here you must be able to speak English? Don’t they realize that the use of Spanish-language political ads is (wait for it) divisive?
Or are they just unconscious?
At least if candidates are lying in only one language, we can keep up with it better. But if they are lying in two (or more) languages, it becomes a lot harder to sort it all out.
This has been going on for awhile. Ten years ago (!), VDARE.com posted my “Nuestra Gente” and the National Question in Texas about a Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Tony Sanchez, who presented himself as a conservative Texan in English and as a Mexican-American ethnic leader in Spanish. (Sanchez was defeated by GOP candidate Rick Perry, the start of Perry’s inglorious reign).
Now it’s 2012. President Obama’s re-election campaign is gearing up for a series of Spanish ads in the states of Florida, Nevada and Colorado, under the (questionable) assumption that Hispanic voters in those states are key to victory in November.
An Associated Press article explains:
“President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign launched a series of Spanish-language television ads in three battleground states on Tuesday. Separately, a Republican official stated that Mitt Romney is “still deciding” his position on immigration, then backtracked. Taken together, the ads and the comment underscored the Democrat’s advantages and his Republican opponent’s challenge in wooing the nation’s fastest-growing ethnic group, Democratic-leaning Hispanics.”
Obama campaign buys Spanish language ads while Romney works to reclaim ground with Hispanics Associated Press, May 8, 2012
Of course, this business about Mitt Romney “still deciding” is not good at all. Romney was successful in the primaries partly by appearing as a hardliner (relatively speaking) on illegal immigration. Is he now preparing to do one of his famous flip flops? Kris Kobach, call your office.
The AP article continues
“The Obama campaign ads, promoting the president’s federal health care overhaul, are running in Florida, Nevada and Colorado, states with large Hispanic populations. Obama carried the three against Republican John McCain in 2008, and polling shows a tight contest again this election.”
My emphasis. Note that Obamacare (not, interestingly, amnesty) is the focus of these ads designed to keep the Hispanic vote. Could it be that the bulk of today’s Hispanics are not the free-market small-government, libertarian conservatives that the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page keeps telling us they are?
The Obama camp is certainly assuming that. And it does appear to have the numbers on its side. In 2008, Obama had 67% of the Hispanic vote versus McCain’s 31%. According to a Pew Center poll last month, Obama now has 67% of the Hispanic vote versus Romney’s 27%. (A Quinnipiac University poll had it as 64-24).
Significantly, a Pajamas Media columnist calling himself “PJ Tatler” points out that Obamacare is being ignored in Obama’s current English-language ads at the same time that it is being played up in Spanish-language advertising:
Obamacare is as unpopular today as it was when the Democrats rammed it through Congress in 2010. Polls consistently find that a majority wants the law repealed in whole or in part. Knowing that, the Obama campaign is loathe to tout its signature legislation or make it a prominent part of its campaign. In English, anyway. In its English advertising, Team Obama so far is sticking to “shiny thing of the week” distractions, attacking Romney for being a successful business man, and so forth. Obamacare doesn’t rate a mention. But in its Spanish advertising, the Obama campaign is speaking from a different script.
How Do You Say “Obamacare” in Spanish? PJ Tatler, May 17, 2012
PJ Tatler quotes an Obama/Biden campaign memo:
“The second set of ads highlight the President’s record on healthcare- a record that includes making affordable healthcare available to up to 9 million previously uninsured Hispanics by 2014, enabling 736,000 young Hispanics to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans, strengthening Medicare so that 1.2 million Hispanic beneficiaries can receive free preventive screenings and affordable prescription drugs, and making sure that millions of Hispanics will no longer be denied insurance or charged more for insurance because of their gender or pre-existing condition.”
If you can stand watching an Obama Obamacare ad in Spanish, click here.
Even if you don’t understand Spanish, you can probably pick up the general drift of it. It promises viewers that Obamacare will save them from being rejected for a pre-existing condition, and features a helpful lady who resembles a social worker visiting a home where the head of the family has diabetes. She explains that Obama cares about families.
So who is she actually working for? The government or the Obama campaign? Or does that not matter?
The message: Obama cares for your Spanish-speaking family and is here to help you.
This is a blatant case of Hispandering, and of pitching one message to the English-speaking majority and another message to the Spanish-speaking minority.
How should the Romney camp respond? There is a constant danger that it will get in a tizzy about the supposed importance of the Hispanic Vote and start Hispandering.
But Hispanics are only 7% or so of the vote (and, amid general astonishment, apparently falling). Instead, Romney should go fish where the fishes are—the white vote, 77% of the total, which of course would have been described as the “American” vote until the disastrous 1965 immigration Act. See the Sailer Strategy. If, unlike McCain, he wants to win, that is.
The answer is obvious: Romney should publicly expose Obama’s double dealing—with a campaign ad that points out Obama’s Hispandering and hypocrisy. He should seize the chance to say: “I have one message for all the American people—and all my ads are in our common language”!
What an opportunity!
Don’t be silly. In fact, needless to say, Romney is advertising in Spanish—and, needless to say, he says nothing like that. Instead, he seems to be trying to use his opposition to Obamacare to try to rope in Hispanic votes!
Romney’s new Spanish ad is just a Spanish-language version of his “Day One” ad currently running in Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia and Ohio. If you’d like to view the “Day One” ad, click here. If you’d like to view “Día Uno”, click here. Notice that it’s the same ad, it just has English narration in one and Spanish narration in the other. See a Fox News Latino article on the ads here: On Day One, Mitt Romney Runs First General Election Ad in Español.
Day One/Día Uno portrays a decisive Mitt Romney and what he promises to start doing on “Day One” of his presidency:
Apparently, the Romney guys, or the ones who wrote this ad anyway, think this going to encourage Hispanics to vote for Romney.
So how is this going to go over with most Hispanics?
Do you suppose most Hispanics are supporters of tax cuts? That probably depends a lot on how much tax they are paying. (Hint: not much).
But what about Obamacare? This is really curious. Here we have two candidates fishing for Hispanic votes, utilizing Obamacare. Obama is pro-Obamacare (obviously) and thinks that’s going to win (or retain) Hispanic voters. Romney thinks that promising to abolish Obamacare will win over Hispanic voters.
Let’s see, who could be right?
Polling indicates that Hispanics have consistently supported Obamacare. A poll released in January put that support at 57%. (See The Supreme Court, Health Care Reform, and Latinos, Jillian Medeiros, Latino Decisions, March 30, 2012).
Is this likely to change by watching a corny commercial called Día Uno?
This isn’t even competent Hispandering.
Really, who is advising Mitt Romney?
Is there any hope for the GOP elite—or for Conservatism Inc?
American citizen Allan Wall (email him) moved back to the U.S.A in 2009, after many years residing in Mexico. Allan's wife is Mexican, and their two sons are bilingual. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his Mexidata.info articles are archived here; his News With Views columns are archived here; and his website is here