When I first heard of State Senator Leticia Van de Putte's comments regarding Latinos and the GOP my immediate instinct was to call her out on her apparent ignorance, considering that Francisco Canseco and Bill Flores made it in to runoffs in for their respective Republican congressional races, but after thinking about it, I realized that it isn't her fault she is so blinded by race, it is just something that older generations still see as an obstacle and a taboo.
For example, I am a second-generation American who just turned 19, has a Hispanic name (first and last), and was born, raised, and educated on the Texas/Mexico border. At first glance most would assume that I am a typical young Hispanic Democrat. But even worse, most would assume that I am that caliber of minority Democrat that would see my name as a handicap and crutch that should be used to milk white people for my own advancement. I actually understand where most would get this assumption because most older people either grew up during the Civil Rights Movement or had parents who partook in it in one way or another, I however am one of a younger generation that is truly color-blind or at least pretty darn close to it. Those of us who are in college right now do not really see race as any sort of issue or social taboo that we should shy away from or use as a crutch. I hate to generalize for everyone my age, but based on my experiences this is the truth! I cannot name even ONE friend or acquaintance who is more or less my age and believes at all that because we are a minority we are any different and must be "helped" by some all-powerful government (or even worse: the Democratic Party).
In fact, most of my friends are conservative or Republican, and yes, most of my friends are minorities who grew up in families that vote Democrat. However, we are the first in our families who do not feel indebted to the Democratic Party because of Civil Rights. In fact, many of us do not really care about Civil Rights leaders. I know this might seem very radical to some, and might even be giving some liberals headaches, but once again this is all based on my experiences throughout my high school and college years. Our parents were more into all that Civil Rights stuff because they could say that they experienced racism in some form, and those friends of mine who have experienced any racism have only faced it from older generations. Our generation doesn't even find "racial slurs" offensive, we pretty freely use them amongst friends of all races.
Because most of the racism that my generation has experienced has been from older generations, most of those that I know seem to have escaped the grip that the Democratic Party has held on to minorities. When we hear a Leticia Van de Putte make comments regarding Latinos and the Republican Party, we literally laugh it off and some of us end up writing blogs supporting the Republican Party. What I am pretty much getting at is that while the "race card" was once a good political gimmick for the Democratic Party to keep Latinos in check, it is not so effective among those of us who are young. This provides a serious opportunity for the Republican Party, and I hope that they we are up to the challenge.
Young Latinos really are tired of hearing the rhetoric of the Civil Rights era. We want to hear about what we can achieve in America, not what the government "owes" us! It is up to the Republican Party to reach out to young people, especially young Latinos, and let us know that the Republican Party is the party that allows for people to strive to be as successful as they want. That is what we want to hear: "What can I do with my life?" and not, "What am I entitled to?" Having grown up on the border, I believe that my generation has this outlook because we have seen how ineffective liberal policies have been on the border. Liberals have handicapped the entrepreneurial spirit of Latinos on the border by making welfare seem like a way of life, and not the temporary relief it was intended to be for those who truly need it. We want a better life for ourselves, our families, and our future. For that reason, I love when the "Leticia Van de Puttes" of the Democratic Party open their mouths; they only strengthen the resolve of the young Latinos who are beginning to go against the voting patterns of their parents and seriously consider the Republican Party as a viable option- a party that allows for us to break out and succeed. I only hope that the Republican Party is up to the challenge and will make a serious investment in reaching out to Latinos, specifically young Latinos, who are ready to hear something new and positive about our future.