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February 1, 2015

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Latino leaders swirl around idea of Tequila Party



Political organizer Fernando Romero says if immigration reform isn’t tackled soon, Hispanics may strike out on their own.

Sun Coverage

UPDATE: ‘Tequila Party’ proposal gains international attention

Latino leaders in Nevada and nationwide are quietly debating whether to sever their traditional Democratic ties and form an independent grass-roots political group.

The idea, born of frustration over the party’s inaction on immigration reform and fears that as a voting bloc they’re a political afterthought, Latino leaders have discussed the idea among themselves locally and in conference calls with colleagues across the country.

The unlikely model for the movement they would like to launch is the Tea Party — not in substance, of course, but in its grass-roots organizational style. Acknowledging the source of their inspiration, Latino leaders have dubbed the proposed movement the “Tequila Party.”

These Hispanic leaders have noticed that while the Tea Party has had spotty electoral success, it has called attention to its concerns and values and put the establishment on notice.

“I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but there’s talk,” said Fernando Romero, president of the nonpartisan Hispanics in Politics, Nevada’s oldest Hispanic political group. “There’s discussion about empowerment of the Latino vote.”

Hispanics have proved to be a powerful political force in Nevada and nationally. They were instrumental in electing President Barack Obama and are credited with saving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s re-election this month. In Nevada, Latinos accounted for 15 percent of voters in 2008 and a record 16 percent in this month’s midterm elections.

Despite, or perhaps because of, their robust turnout, many Latinos have become disillusioned with party politics. Their efforts haven’t led to the changes in policy they would like to see.

Hispanic Republicans complain that party officials court their vote but often advocate policies that marginalize the community.

For example, Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval, the state’s first Hispanic governor, reached out to Latino voters while also embracing Arizona’s controversial immigration law. GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle aired campaign ads on illegal immigration that portrayed Mexicans as menacing criminals. A spokeswoman for Angle, who is also the chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Hispanic Caucus, was put in the awkward position of denouncing her own candidate’s ads.

Latino Democrats, on the other hand, wonder if their support is taken for granted. They express frustration and anger at the lack of movement on immigration and education reform in Washington. They bristle at being underrepresented in the state Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee. Community organizers complain they are recognized only near the end of campaigns, when polls are tight and their votes are needed.

“There’s a feeling that Democrats aren’t listening,” said Louis DeSipio, a Chicano studies and political science professor at the University of California, Irvine.

Congress’ actions over the next month could decide the fate of the burgeoning Tequila Party. If comprehensive immigration reform is shelved again, some Hispanics will likely decide to strike out on their own.

“It would definitely induce us,” Romero said. “We would have to do something at that point to get ready for 2012.”

The organization could operate as an affiliate of the Democratic Party or as an independent movement, as the Tea Party was initially.

The Tea Party’s evolving relationship with Republicans could provide a lesson for Tequila Party advocates. The seemingly spontaneous grass-roots growth of the Tea Party revealed the pent-up anger of many Americans over what they saw as excess government spending and its intrusion into private industry. But translating that energy into electoral results largely came about when the Tea Party worked within the Republican Party.

Politicians affiliated with Tea Party groups won more than 40 congressional seats in the midterm elections. All ran as Republicans. And while headliners such as Angle and Christine O’Donnell lost at the ballot box, their association with the movement and the party placed them on a national stage, where they were able to amass a significant amount of support and in Angle’s case, a stunning amount of money.

Hispanic leaders hope to spur something similar.

“People want to leverage the fact that it was Hispanics who were the dealmakers getting Reid elected,” one Democratic Latino operative said. “This is the time to move forward and get something committed other than talk, which has been going on for a long time.”

The Hispanic community has had some success with grass-roots movements. The nationwide immigration rallies in 2006 are an example. Hundreds of thousands of them gathered in cities across the country to protest proposed immigration laws and push for comprehensive immigration reform.

A series of House and Senate hearings followed.

“These were community activists who thought leaders weren’t paying attention,” DeSipio said. “It got Washington’s attention.”

But efforts to create a third party around race or ethnicity have failed.

In the late 1960s, the Puerto Rican Young Lords Party emerged in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. Modeled after the Black Panther Party, the group used confrontational tactics to call attention to the struggles of immigrants in the barrios. In the 1970s, the Mexican-American La Raza Unida Party sprung up in the Southwest. The party gained city council and school board seats in Crystal City, Texas, where it began, and ran candidates for governor and U.S. Senate. But the party’s high-profile candidates lost, and the movement struggled to gain traction nationally.

“The party did not meet its goal of becoming a viable independent political institution, but it did contribute to the opening of doors for Mexican-Americans into the two-party political system,” Carlos Muñoz Jr., one of the founding members and now a Latino studies professor at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote in a recent op-ed piece.

Muñoz still sees the need for a third political party with the concerns of minorities as its primary agenda, but he now thinks such a movement should be more inclusive.

“Latinos don’t have the luxury to try to be islands in and of themselves,” Muñoz told the Sun. “What we need, given the reality of today, is a new progressive party that is independent but inclusive of all racial and ethnic groups.”

“If the progressive Democratic caucus, if the progressive third parties can say this isn’t working, let’s leave and contribute to the building of a multiracial independent party, that would be the perfect nucleus for the eventual development of a vibrant independent force that reflects a diverse culture.”

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  1. Tequila is a Mexican beverage, not a Hispanic beverage.

  2. Good idea here! If the Latinos have their own party, perhaps the communist-er Democrat-party can be stamped out and buried in history! Those Latino immigrants who don't want to assimilate into American culture and become true Americans should have their own political party.

  3. dipstick -- good post.

    "Those Latino immigrants who don't want to assimilate into American culture and become true Americans should have their own political party."

    Hopkins -- exactly what "American culture" are you referring to that would make them "true Americans"?

    Everybody's right to assemble peacefully for political influence is a sacred freedom here. That you seem to encourage destroying it is absolutely anti-American.

    "The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people." - Noam Chomsky

  4. Tea Party organizers drink Amaretto with a dash of whipped cream in the extended sides of their RVs and complain they don't have enough Freedom.

  5. "Just for the person "Killerb" - a true American does not have a hyphen in their name."

    Bradatay -- what?? That aside, if a person wants to hyphenate his or her name, what do you have besides your baseless personal opinion?

    "Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either." -- Mark Twain, 1897, "Following the Equator," chapter 51

  6. Maybe the Tequila Party can take to the streets, fly the Mexican flag and threaten violence if they don't get what they want which is amnesty, power and supremacy.

  7. The interesting part is that the LEGAL Hispanics don't have a problem with the parties or the way things are.

    The criminal Hispanics want changes. They want what they want, the same thing they left their own country for. Why come here and demand that America become what they want?

    Use plain non P.C. common sense. There is no need to pass new laws that favor any race. It is not a race issue. It is an issue of Criminal's crossing our borders and breaking laws.

    Explain it for what it really is. Follow the laws and enjoy America. Break the laws and go home.

  8. It is high time the two party system be challenged! As evidenced, loyalty to either, has been rewarded with very little if any recognition or help. Although past history would say that this social experiment will come and go, it ripe to have its day in the sun. Who knows? Some good may even come out of it: those who are currently illegal aliens will finally get documented so they can legally vote (and work here)!!!! Of course, they won't come close or touch the reforms needed here in Nevada, such as taxing the legal brothel industry, which would end Nevada's current budget crisis. But maybe they will remind Congress why we need to enforce our BORDERS so that we can again become economically strong, and not under seige of overpopulation of those coming into the USA illegally.

  9. Margarita = fun and a PARTY

    Tequila = Mischief and Police involvement.

    Why not name themselves the Pinata's, that way they can get beat up by either Party in power.

    Or maybe.... the Jumping Bean party, that way they can go with whomever is in power.

    Or maybe... the Rio Grande party, that way when they "crossover" party lines nobody will notice.

    I do agree with Bradatay on one aspect..... keep isolating and things will not get better.

  10. If they're smart they will pursue an independent party as the democrats have been using them just as they have used African Americans. To the democrats you are but a way to gerrymander the American electorate giving THEM a permanent majority. But If they strike out on their own they might want to choose a name other than Tequila which could create an impression of drunken abusers.

    Along those lines if they want to be successful and respected they need to screen out those who promote amnesty and reconquesta.

    Their message should be that of naturalized citizens who are Americans first above all else. It should be that of law abiding citizens, personal responsibility, patriotism, community and national service.

    Americans don't care what country you came from, what ethnic group, nationality or religion you are. We do care that you respect Americas constitution, sovereignty, laws, mores and are loyal to her above all. Loyalty is the single most important requirement for American citizens natural born or naturalized.

    If you snuck into the country, broke our laws, drive without insurance, use forged or stolen documents and any of the myriad of other disloyal indicators that you are here for yourself first and not loyal or faithful to the U.S. then you are not welcome, should not be allowed to become a citizen and should be required to return to your country of origin.

    Come here the right way for the right reasons and you are welcome. Come here the wrong way for the wrong reasons and you are not.

    And amnesty is never acceptable.

  11. Well Sr. Fernando Romero you are right on target!! and the saying goes 'Al nopal lo van a ver solo cuando tiene tunas' only when the Democrats need the Latino vote-they remember their Latino Constituents!!

    So, count me in for the 'Tequila Party' because it's time to get our votes togheter and fight at the ballots for the Latino causes!!

  12. The best part here is the freedom America provides but American comes second to Hispanic. As in Hispanic-American. I'm all for pride in your ancestry, but the agenda here is off.

    Once the party is formed what will their main focus be? Because Mexico already has a tequila party of their own and the people don't seem to like it as much as the current parties here in America.

    I think illegals in this country are doing quite well for themselves. Jobs, welfare, low income housing. Tax free!

    Just the other day a group of 6 terrorists went on a crime spree that left 1 innocent teacher dead. Will the tequila party try to educate the thousands of illegals in this town to control their children and raise them to be responsible Americans? Will they tell the thousands of illegal workers to strive to become legal so they can pay taxes for the services they receive.

    Probably not, because once in power they will seek the same thing dems and rebs do.. More votes and more power. If Hispanic-Americans want to make a difference for illegals fix Mexico so it's the kind of place where people want to live. Create a party there (or wherever you claim allegiance) and you can be proud Hispanics. Then you won't have to waste time adding the American at the end.

  13. I like the Party within the Party System. (ex. Tea Party). They should make more of them that actually work within the Two Party System to make them change their ways.

  14. Let's see how many Democrats raise a hue and cry to have the contributions to this new group checked to be sure they all come from legal residents.

    In the meantime, this will split the Democratic vote and hand even more elections to the Republicans in 2012. This will continue as long as "immigration reform" is nothing but code for "amnesty." Even many Democrats don't want that, especially in this economy.

    It would not surprise me if this effort backfires and increases support for taking away birthright citizenship.

  15. "There's a feeling that Democrats aren't listening," Wow... Took them this long to realize they were being used by the left??

  16. My thought is that Hispanics should join the GOP. Many of my Hispanic friends in Las Vegas are Republicans and I know them to be conservative, business oriented, pro second amendment, anti-federal government, and strong advocates for less taxes and regulation. We (The GOP) must go back to our roots of being a "big tent" party. We must embrace everyone who seeks to change this country for the better. The Tea Party did some good this year, but I don't want Americans to lose focus on improving the GOP. During the past decade our party has made some drastic mistakes. However, we can improve as a party and return to our fiscally conservative ways. We must reign in government spending and turn our focus back to entrepreneurship! No longer can we allow our representatives to spend money like water in D.C.! So I extend an invitation to all Hispanics to join the Republican Party--help us create a more diverse and representative GOP. WE NEED YOU!