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Clinton-Bush: The Dynasties and the Latino Vote

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Please note the following column was translated from Spanish to English and is available for reprint as long as the author is given proper credit.

This column is available online in Spanish here.

Hillary Clinton officially launched her campaign for her almost-certain Democratic presidential nomination Saturday in New York, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush announced his intention to run for the Republican nomination on Monday at Miami Dade College. The representatives of two political dynasties are attempting to repackage themselves for new buyers – voters to buy the promises they’re selling as they enter the race for the White House.

Of the two, it will be more difficult for Bush. As of now, Clinton doesn’t have any real competition, and unless something catastrophic happens, she will likely secure her party’s nomination. But the former Senator and Secretary of State needs to appeal to a new generation of voters that were children and teenagers in the 1990’s, when she was First Lady. These are voters that want clarity in diverse areas: jobs, foreign policy, social issues, as well as the workings of the Clinton Foundation led by former president Bill Clinton who, if his wife wins the presidency, will return with all of his baggage to the White House as a “First Gentleman.”

Hillary Clinton wants to maintain and build the coalition of voters that propelled Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008 and 2012, including Latino voters, 67 percent of whom voted for Obama in 2008 and 75 percent who did the same for his 2012 reelection.

On at least one defining issue for Latino voters, immigration, Clinton has said what those voters want to hear—that she supports immigration reform with a path to citizenship because anything less would create a second-class status. She also supports the executive actions introduced by Obama: the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program and its 2014 expansion, and the 2014 Deferred Action for Parental Accountability Program. The 2014 executive actions are currently frozen in the courts, due to a lawsuit brought by Republican governors.

The question is what will happen if Clinton wins, and as anticipated, has to govern with a Republican Congress that up until this point has refused to consider a plan for comprehensive immigration reform that eliminates the need for the executive actions. The other question is, legally and constitutionally speaking, what more could President Clinton do if the courts continue to block the executive actions?

This Monday, June 15th, DACA 2012 turned three years old on the same day that Bush officially announced his candidacy. An estimated 700,000 young immigrants have benefitted from that program, receiving work permits and protection from deportation; as well as individual and family stability for their communities and the country.

Bush opposes the executive actions because he believes that the solution needs to be legislative and permanent.  This we know, just as we also know that his party has blocked a permanent solution in Congress. Bush has also said that he would not revoke the 2012 DACA because it is already in effect and he would only terminate the program if comprehensive immigration reform were passed.

At the same time, it is not clear whether his immigration reform plan would include only legalization without citizenship.

But compared with the majority of Republican primary candidates, whose immigration stances seem more like circus acts than serious options, Bush, at least on immigration, is the most moderate (with the exception of Lindsey Graham). The question is whether with his record, including his last name and his positions on immigration and education, Bush is able to survive the Republican primary.

Admittedly, a Clinton-Bush 2016 contest would be interesting because, despite the burden Bush would carry based on the anti-immigrant image of his party, there exists the potential for a real fight for the Latino vote, particularly in states like Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and maybe even Florida.

But beware: even if Bush doesn’t gain the nomination and instead it is won by another candidate with immigration positions that go against the interests of Latino voters, we need to remember that in this country, elections are cyclical and voters like to rotate the parties in power. For that reason, even though the Democratic candidate now seems invincible, you shouldn’t assume that the Latino vote has been secured.

Neither of the dynasties can take the Latino vote for granted.

Maribel Hastings is a Senior Advisor to America’s Voice.