Is There a Latinx Vote? (short-term, February 2022)
Organized by Javier Puente, Latin American and Latino/a Studies, Michelle Joffroy, Spanish and Portuguese, Verónica Dávila Ellis, Eveillard Postdoctoral Fellow, and Dana Leibsohn, Art, and Javier Puente, Latin American and Latino/a Studies
In 2020 the U.S. Presidential election offered voters an openly authoritarian option for the nation, calling into question the meaning and promise of democracy in the United States. Election polls unveiled the uncanny support of some Latinx communities for this authoritarian option. However anti-immigration, xenophobic, and exclusionary such options had become, significant percentages of Latinx communities in Florida, Texas, Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Arizona – among other places – seemingly mobilized in favor of this alternative. Some contemporary observers have posed this support as a shift in the preferences of the “Latinx vote” and Latinx communities at large. A major (mis)understanding of the political identities of Latinx voters, often cast through hagiographic myths and monolithic views of progressive labor and social conservativism, sat at the core of this widespread appraisal. Popular presumptions along with political pundit assumptions obfuscated and oversimplified a more complex set of realities. One question that remains in place: is there a Latinx vote?
Continuing the institutional efforts of the Year on Democracies at Smith College, the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute invites Smith and Five College faculty members to join a seminar focused on Benjamin Francis-Fallon’s The Rise of the Latino Vote: A History. Published a year before the 2020 elections, The Rise of the Latin Vote brings together three major historical trajectories – Mexican American, Puerto Rican, and Cuban American – to explain the loose making of a political constituency, from the convulsed 1960s to the alleged rise of the “new Hispanic conservatives” in the twenty first century. Francis-Fallon’s work raises provocative questions about migration, identity formation, state-community relations, grassroots organizations, and multicultural politics. In this Kahn seminar we seek to interrogate the existence, nature, identity, and motivations of the “Latinx vote.” Who are these voters? How are their identities formed in political arenas? What is their socioeconomic composition? What are their religious affiliations? What are their sociopolitical agendas?