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Latinos – we come in all shapes, sizes and colors. We come from different backgrounds and cultures, each with our own expressive food, distinct music and unique traditions. Our diversity is what makes us such a beautiful people. Should we really expect our political views to be any different?
This is no new topic to Being Latino. Some believe that Latinos tend to be more socially conservative than most Americans (and this is true in some cases), while others point to solid evidence that Latinos more commonly identify as liberal.
Sometimes our diversity is also what makes us so difficult to understand.
Of course, certain ethnic groups have, historically speaking, voted along party lines in one way or another:
On the East Coast and in Florida particularly, we have conservative Cuban exiles and their descendents who tend to vote Republican. They are generally business-oriented individualists and oppose any legislation that even slightly resembles socialism.
In the North, in cities like New York and Chicago, we have Puerto Ricans and Dominicans who tend to identify as progressive. Both cultures experienced oppressive regimes back in their respective countries and thus have a natural disposition to social reform.
Then, in the West and Southwest, we have Mexicans and other immigrants from Central America who more commonly identify as liberal and grew up with a spirit of social activism because of the Chicano movement.
So we do, in fact, see a noticeable pattern in the political ideologies of Latinos.
A new survey even suggests that Latinos are no more or less likely than general public to identify as conservative. Inversely, however, they are more likely than the general public to identify as liberal.
Still, all demographics aside, I tend to believe that Latinos are no more or less likely to identify as either liberal or conservative. In reality, Latinos are not a monolithic voting bloc, and the influence of individual family values and experience on political affiliation is often overlooked.
That’s why, as a liberal Latino, even though I can’t imagine why on Earth another Latino would ever identify as conservative, I do not seek to alienate my conservative brothers and sisters, only to understand them.
Conservative Latinos tend to be so primarily on social issues. Their focus on family values means they are pro-life in the abortion debate; their devotion to religion makes them hesitant about same-sex marriage; and their belief in entrepreneurial business and individualism make them opposed to government regulation.
All Latinos, liberal or conservative, will admit the need for comprehensive immigration reform. It is the type of reform and its implementation that we disagree on – the Latino community’s reaction to Obama’s most recent executive order is proof.
With so much cultural diversity, we are bound to disagree on a lot of things, especially politics. But that diversity also means that the Latino identity incorporates a wide range of beliefs and opinions, and we must openly accept all of them. No one group defines what it means to be Latino, and conservative Latinos are certainly not traitors or sellouts to that identity.
This article originally appeared in Being Latino.