Lourdes Medrano, Christian Science Monitor, May 25, 2011
Simmering frustration among Latino voters has prompted a tea party-style endeavor that’s intended to boost the political influence of America’s fastest-growing minority group.
“We want to motivate Latinos to vote,” says Belinda “DeeDee” Blase, spokeswoman for the fledgling National Tequila Party Movement, which has adopted a nonpartisan stance. “[Democrats and Republicans] don’t take us seriously because we don’t vote consistently.”
Through rallies and concerts in at least 20 states, the group wants to mobilize Latinos to vote in record-breaking numbers in the 2012 election. The idea is to issue a wake-up call to both parties–Democrats for taking the Latino vote for granted and Republicans for pushing policies that adversely affect the Hispanic community.
The number of Latinos eligible to vote went from 13 million in 2000 to 21 million in 2010. But just 31 percent of Latinos cast a ballot in the recent midterm elections, compared with nearly 49 percent of whites and 44 percent of blacks, according to a Pew Hispanic Center survey.
The tequila party wants to change that equation and make Latinos an attention-getting voting bloc, says Ms. Blase, who is also president of Somos Republicans, a national advocacy group based in Scottsdale, Ariz.
To expand the tequila party effort in various states, Blase plans to tap into the existing structure of Somos Republicans. And some Somos Republicans representatives have already formed alliances with Democrats and Hispanic political activists that could help advance the tequila party’s goals, she adds.
The effort comes amid diminished enthusiasm for President Obama among Latinos even as he renews his courtship of this group, which political analysts say is crucial to his reelection. Polls show that Latinos, who vote mostly Democratic, have grown weary of the president’s lack of progress in securing immigration reforms. The record number of deportations under the Obama administration is another sore point.