(Ellie Lopez-Bowlan) – Many Republican Hispanics from around the country have been outraged by Sen. Harry Reid’s Aug. 10 comments. The consensus is that the senator is out of touch with the evolution of the Hispanic vote. We choose a party for the same reasons as others. The issues that affect other individuals also impact Hispanics. Personally, I don’t know why any Hispanic would vote for a person who would question his or her freedom of choice.
In his remarks, Reid said, “I don’t know why anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican.” The statement was made when he was out campaigning for the Hispanic vote. He clearly does not get it. When I heard about the comment, I felt that he was insensitive. Republican Hispanics went on the record.
Marco Rubio, a Republican in a Senate race in Florida, said that the Senator’s statement was “outrageous and ridiculous.”
Alci Maldonado, chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, said that Reid’s comments were “laughable” but also stated, “First, he makes a comment saying there are no illegal aliens working in the construction business in Nevada, and now he questions how Hispanics can be Republican. Senator Reid is clearly out of touch with the Hispanic community within his own state and the nation.”
Ruben Estrada, president of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Orange County, said, “I am appalled and insulted with such a question from the U.S. Senate Leader Harry Reid.” He called the question, “A sign of desperation.” He also said, “Hispanic Americans are a significant major electorate and are no longer guaranteed to the Democratic Party and are not only Republicans, conservatives and, yes, Tea Party members.”
The reasons why we choose the Republican Party may vary but are rooted in the conservative values that we grew up with. Rubio stated that his parents had come to this country to make a better life for their children. He felt that the Republican Party supported “economic empowerment and upward mobility.” Maldonado feels that the Republican Party supports the freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Estrada reported that, while he was growing up in East Harlem, his parents embraced, “very conservative values.”
I changed political affiliation when I decided that I did not want a party that gave me things by raising taxes. I did not want a party that interfered with every aspect of my life. Instead, I wanted to earn things for myself and embrace my personal successes.
Hispanics make their political choices just like any American. They have the same issues, which include: a decrease in jobs, a failing education system and high drop-out rates, lack of immigration reform, limited access to health care, and the need for a stable economy.
It is arrogant of Reid to assume that because I am Hispanic, I should not be a Republican. Reid needs to broaden his horizons so that he might understand Hispanic voters. After all, 44 percent of the Hispanic vote went to Republican George W. Bush for president in 2004.
(Ellie Lopez-Bowlan is a Republican Hispanic and past President of Mount Rose Republican Women. This column originally appeared in the Reno Gazette-Journa.)