La Escritura en la Pared Para Los Republicanos

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Three articles, one message: Texas Republicans are overtly hostile to Hispanics, and they should have consequences to face at the ballot box because of it. This issue has been made all the more clear just in the past few weeks, with the intersection of Victor Carrillo's primary loss, the SBOE vendetta against Hispanic historical figures, and a new report on the changing demographics of Texas.

On primary day, incumbent Republican Railroad Commissioner Victor Carrillo lost in a landslide to an unqualified no-name who had the great luck to be baptized “David Porter.” Carrillo's $600,000 campaign was helpless against the innate distrust of Hispanic last names amongst Republican base voters. In a letter to supporters, Carrillo openly addressed the anti-Hispanic bias that pervades the Republican Party of Texas:

Given the choice between “Porter” and “Carrillo” – unfortunately, the Hispanic-surname was a serious setback from which I could never recover although I did all in my power to overcome this built-in bias. I saw it last time but was able to win because the “non-Carrillo” vote was spread among three Anglo GOP primary opponents instead of just one.

Carrillo goes on to address how this will remain a problem for GOP candidates, particularly as the Hispanic portion of the electorate expands. Luckily for Democrats, I don't think the Republicans are listening. They're too committed to their regressive social agenda to dare read the handwriting on the wall here in Texas.

Memo to independent Hispanic voters: the Republican Party does not want you. They will do all they can to not nominate anyone who looks like you. If the voters had another choice for Place 9 on the Supreme Court of Texas than Eva Guzman and Rose Vela, one wonders if either of them would have prevailed either.

The anti-Hispanic bias of Texas Republicans was again on display last week at the State Board of Education meeting as important Hispanic figures were struck from the history books. Heroes who fought at the Alamo were removed in favor of a Confederate general who later served as President of Texas A&M. “A fine gentleman,” McElroy called him.

After hours of such debate, Democratic SBOE member Mary Helen Berlanga had had enough and let the Republican-dominated Board hear it:

“You complained about the lists (of Hispanic figures) being too long … And now it looks like you're able to put in the names all of these people, God knows who they are,” [Berlanga] said. “So I've had it … I'm leaving for the evening. Everyone can go ahead and remove the Tejanos who died at the Alamo and we can all pretend that we live in white America and Hispanics don't exist.


Conservatives simply will not face facts that Texas will in future years be majority Hispanic, Berlanga said. And Hispanic children need to learn their own heritage, which would also benefit all races. “They just aren't facing the figures dealing with the population of our state,” she said.

Most disgusting? Don McLeroy–who shepherded many of these anti-Hispanic changes through–was defeated in his primary two weeks ago. Yet he still sits on the board through the end of his term, now with even less reason not to further destroy public education.

It's ironic–the title of the Texas Tribune article quoting Berlanga is “We're Outnumbered.” The Democrats on the SBOE are indeed outnumbered. But across our state, it's the conservative, Hispanic-fearing Anglos that are outnumbered, as an excellent feature on former State Demographer Steve Murdock, who looks at the growing Hispanic population in Texas as the biggest factor in terms of demographic change:

The factor that I argue may be more important than all the others is the growth in the diversity of the Texas population. Texas is basically now – as of about 2003, less than half Anglo. And if you look at urban area after urban area after urban area, you see Dallas County, you see Harris County, which started this decade with Anglos not being 50 percent, but being the largest single group, have seen such a transition that by this time Hispanics in both those counties are now the largest single group. So the growth of Hispanics has been about 62 percent of all groups in Texas.


… the Census Bureau now projects that by 2042, the U.S. population will be less than half Anglo. It's really startling, I think, that by 2023, over half the children in America will be non-Anglo. When I first started talking about this thirty years ago, people said that's probably not going to happen. Well, it's happened. And there's nothing in the cards that can really reverse that pattern. The growth in the Hispanic population is not all immigration. In fact, in Texas, the majority of it is natural increase.

By 2023, more than half of Americans will be non-Anglo. In Texas, they already are. Our public school systems educate a student body that is over 40% Hispanic. We educate Hispanic children whom the Republican SBOE members want to make sure never learn about the many great individuals who share their heritage.

If we're going to make this a state for all Texans regardless of ethnicity, we need to get rid of these intolerant Republicans. One way to make great gains immediately is by increasing turnout this November in Democratic-majority Hispanic areas, particularly the Rio Grande Valley. We can make great strides towards this end by supporting voter registration and turnout efforts in our border counties, which traditionally can lag in November turnout by up to 50%. Just helping these Democratic strongholds vote at the same pace of the rest of the state can make all the difference for our candidates.

At the end of the day, I'm a Democrat, and I want Democrats to win. But I don't want the Republican Party to be the last vestige of open racism in America–not as long as they can still win elections anywhere. I don't want one of our major political parties to nakedly campaign on fostering racial intolerance. (See: George Allen, Sarah Palin rallies, hate-radio rhetoric about the current President.) Nobody benefits–especially not the changing population of Texas, whose leaders would rather marginalize a majority of our residents than look for ways in which we can all succeed together.  


About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.


  1. Not again
    Hispanics are more likely to be Democrat becomes the party welcomes them, but beyond that there is not much philosophical cohesion with Democratic Party.  And stop lumping everyone on the same boat.  It is like saying we need the “White Vote.”  God knows there is plenty of disagreement among “white” people.

    My grandparents, from Cuba and Mexico, talk about how Republicans are racist, but you should hear what they think about gay marriage and abortion.  

    Immigrants, legal or undocumented, come to this country to make it.  As I was told by a friend of the family, who is undocumented, the reason they gave up everything in Mexico to come here is because at least here you can work hard and have something to show for it.  We consider these folks poor by our standards, but based on their own experiences they feel far removed from it.

    But then you have generational differences.  Yes, an undocumented immigrant can come to Dallas have a baby at Parkland (Dallas County Hospital), but someone that is 3rd generation immigrant probably won't have that same option.  It is something that I hear.  

    Now national Democrats or so-called Latino leaders want to push immigration reform cos' it's a “Latino Issue”.  Immigration reform like border security are band-aid approaches.  Let's face it the majority of immigrants come from Mexico.  They come because they have can work hard in Mexico, but still have nothing to show for it.

    If anything, America and Mexico need to sit down to see what needs to be done.  It will mean give and take on both sides.  It may mean America will have to give up some aspects of the drug war.  It may mean Mexico will have to open up its energy sector.  It may mean America will have to kill some of its ag subsidies.  

    A wealthier more prosperous Mexico benefits us, and it also means a much more manageable border to deal with Guatemala.  But then we can start working with Latin America to improve it overall.

    But no, that would be too difficult.  

    There done with my rant.  (Awaiting Hispanic Democrat to say how awesome Democrats are.  Look I am a Democrat, but I sip the Kool-Aid not chug it.)

    • It is something that you hear?

      But then you have generational differences.  Yes, an undocumented immigrant can come to Dallas have a baby at Parkland (Dallas County Hospital), but someone that is 3rd generation immigrant probably won't have that same option.  It is something that I hear.

      A 3rd generation immigrant would be more likely to have health insurance and a stable existence. Or have resources. Or even be Medicaid-eligible.

      The undocumented pregnant immigrant could die without having her baby at Parkland. Just like all women, undocumented women can die from giving birth.

      So, what are you really saying?  I'm really not clear on what you hear.

      • Let me draw you a picture…
        A 3rd generation “Latina” was expressing her frustration regarding a friend of the family that she knows, that is undocumented, has two children in Parkland.  This Latina votes Democrat.  That is what I mean that I heard.  I am not saying that it is a correct or incorrect view.  

        Regarding your bit about more likely to have health insurance, and so on, what's the big push for health care reform then for?

        Whether that person's feelings, right or wrong, defies the notion that Latinos, Hispanics, Mexican-American, Chicano, are on all the same page on policy.

        You're right that that undocumented pregnant immigrant could have died without having gone to Parkland.  But as someone I know who works at the Parkland Clinic educated young folks about family planning told me, some of these folks are undocumented, pregnancy is a choice.  Now ignorance plays a role.  Some say, “Well, the Catholic Church doesn't believe in contraception.”  Others, “Condoms don't fit me.”  Others still, “Whatever God wants.”  That is not an argument to deny these women from receiving care.  But only to show that within a same community, people view these things differently, and where their frustrations come from.

        Because a lot of immigrants come from rural Mexico they hold traditional values, and yeah, some of these guys have a narrow view of women.  

  2. ethnicity is only one part of the equation

    April 1990, Rafael Ortega took 41.4% of the GOP primary vote against Jerry Eversole in a district which was at the time 12% Hispanic adult citizen by 1990 census data.  (And may have been less than 5% Hispanic participation in the GOP primary)

    There has been a fair amount of political science analysis of voting trends in Houston in relation to several lawsuits regarding redistricting over the past few decades, but very little of the analysis relates to GOP primary results, in part because so few Hispanics have ever sought office in majority Anglo districts as Republican candidates.

    In the non-partisan City elections in 1995, Orlando Sanchez got strong Anglo support over David Ballard, an Anglo candidate, and won the office.  The city at the time was 15.3% Hispanic adult citizen based on census data.

    Judges Analia Wilkerson, Voight, David Medina, and some others won office in the 1990s as Republicans, but I am unsure if any had Anglo challengers in their primaries, and for the first two, to what degree voters perceived the candidate had Hispanic heritage.  Natalie Fleming, of Cuban heritage, won the GOP primary outright this year. Same issue.

    Raymond Garcia lost a GOP primary for County Board of Education to activist and now County Clerk nominee Stan Stanart in 2008, despite being a multi-term incumbent, but then, as now, Stanart had strong support among the local party precinct chairs and activists.  But Garcia's results far exceeded the percentage of GOP primary participants who are Hispanic, so he received substantial Anglo support even while losing.

    Similarly, Martin Basaldua has twice lost state House District 127 in 2008 and 2010, but his totals (13% in 2010 and 32% in 2008) also exceeded Hispanic participation in the primary in Kingwood, so he also received substantial Anglo support even while losing.  The whole district is only 11% Hispanic, including Democrats and Independents.

    Carlos Obando took 27% of the vote in the GOP primary in HD 134 in 2008, but the district in total (including Democrats) had only 6.6% Hispanic voters that year.

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