There was a time when Calexico resident Daniel Ramirez blindly cast his vote along party lines. Currently, as someone who votes “principles over party,” he said he is not pleased with his voting options come November.
A registered Democrat, Ramirez is also more critical of President Obama than he is of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
“My faith is not in government,” he said. “It’s in God.”
Along with opposing expansive and irresponsible government entitlement spending, Ramirez is also against abortion. Ramirez is, in essence, a conservative. He said that the first time someone alluded to him as a conservative he had no idea what the term meant.
“We’re wired that way. We didn’t choose,” he said of he and his wife, Lourdes. “I think you choose to be liberal.”
While Latinos are more likely to describe their political views as liberal than the general public, in some cases Latinos hold more socially conservative views than the general public, according to a recent Pew Hispanic Center survey.
Additionally, Hispanics hold a more socially conservative view than the general population when it comes to abortion, with 51 percent responding that it should be illegal.
“(Latino) values are conservative values,” said Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.
The function of the organization is to promote conservative values among the Latino community and to educate the conservative establishment about the common values they share with Latinos.
The hallmarks of Latino conservatism include a strong family orientation, devotion to entrepreneurial enterprises and religious participation, he said.
Although immigration continues to be a sticking point between the conservative establishment and a majority of Latinos, the GOP has in recent years made some progress attracting Latinos to its ranks.
The problem has been that the GOP keeps “shooting itself in the foot” and allowed the Democrats to claim this vital constituency, he said.
“We have a long road ahead of us,” Aguilar said, referring to the work of his organization.
Here in the county, of its 92,126 registered voters, 50 percent were registered as Democrats, with 25 percent registered as Republicans, according to data from the Secretary of State’s Office.
Yet, the established conservative party, which has done much to alienate the growing Latino constituency, should be expected to increasingly draw attention to its professed shared values, said Arizona State University professor Matt Garcia.
One such shared value is the tendency for Latinos to express a politically conservative stance when it comes to financial issues.
Such attitudes often have their origins in the fact that there’s scarcity in the Latino community and an “intense” corresponding resource management, said Garcia, who is director of the university’s Comparative Border Studies Program.
“There’s a lot of appreciation for the thing that you do have,” he said.
However, for Latinos, such a conservative attitude has its genesis in “not having plenty or too much” and wanting to prove such they are not a burden to society.
Far from being a monolithic group, Latinos’ attitudes about politics, values and religion hardly fit any label, Garcia said.
A former atheist, journalist and Calexico resident, Jimmy Dorantes said he really doesn’t like labels.
“They divide people,” the 51-year-old said.
Yet, he is also quick to describe himself as a nondenominational Christian with fairly conservative values. Without disclosing his political party affiliation, Dorantes also said the upcoming November presidential election has been weighing on his mind.
Displeasure with both major party candidates may prevent him from voting, which would be a first, he said.
“I’m going to have to pray for who I’m going to vote for,” he said.
Staff Writer, Copy Editor Julio Morales can be reached at 760-335-4665 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Join the discussion and add your comments to this story! Scroll down or click here and tell us what you think.