By Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Washington Post Writers Group
Hey fellow Hispanics, are we powerful yet?
We work hard, pursue education, break barriers and serve in the military. We don't ask for special treatment, and yet it would be nice to have a louder voice and decent representation in business, government, entertainment and the news media.
The world of politics is particularly hostile. Politicians respect money, votes and power. Hispanics are 0 for 3. We don't contribute much money to campaigns. We vote — but we cast our ballots overwhelmingly for one party. We're taken for granted by Democrats, and forsaken by Republicans. So we're weak because we have no leverage.
As I speak to Hispanics around the country, I hear frustration, disillusionment and anger over having to choose "the lesser of two evils." There is also confusion; activists don't know what to do now that the Democratic Party — which most of them, for more than 50 years, have trusted to watch their backs — is offering only betrayal, blame-shifting and broken promises.
More and more of those who want to give the undocumented a path to legal status — including many Hispanics — are figuring out that Democrats will never act on immigration reform because they're terrified of the blowback. And more and more Hispanics are seeing that they're being toyed with, and pitted against Republicans, to camouflage inaction by Democrats.
Sometimes, you're lucky if all you get is inaction. In President Barack Obama's first term, there was the broken promise to tackle immigration reform along with a record number of deportations resulting in scores of broken families. In the second term -- just this year -- there was the mistreatment and repatriation of thousands of child refugees from Central America and the backtracking from his vow to take executive action before Labor Day.
Now some are urging Hispanics to punish Democrats by sitting out the midterm elections in November, which incidentally many Hispanics will likely skip anyway if previous turnout rates are any indication.
Erika Andiola, co-founder of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, told NBC News that, even though she helped register people to vote in 2012, "we're not doing anything like that this year." Andiola said she finds it "very troubling" to ask people to vote for either party.
Predictably, Andiola has become a target on social media. Her tormentors include Democratic Party loyalists, Latino liberals and Obama supporters who are not as good at leadership as they are at lobbing hand grenades. It turns out that the left didn't really support "dreamers" after all, except when they could use them to skewer Republicans. Once these undocumented young people turned their ire toward some Democrats in Congress and the White House, they were no longer a liberal cause celebre.
Besides powerlessness, I also see division. We're halfway through Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, and America's largest minority is split up into a million different pieces.
It's not just that Mexican-Americans have different interests than Puerto Ricans, and Cuban-Americans don't see eye-to-eye with Dominican-Americans.
There is a new brand of division engulfing the Hispanic community, and much of the blame belongs to Obama. Based on his record number of deportations and other policies, Obama can be justifiably called the most anti-immigrant president in modern U.S. history. It's the fact that this distinction has gone to a Democrat that is fueling much of the division.
It's as if the president's Hispanic advisers — the spinners the White House sends out to do damage control whenever Obama slights our community — told him our secret: That most Hispanics who are U.S. citizens don't really care what happens to immigrants, especially the undocumented.
You might have gotten the opposite impression from hearing activists rail against Republicans who bash immigrants. But this had more to do with attacking Republicans than defending immigrants.
Meanwhile, others are insisting that Hispanics have to exercise their voting franchise. Otherwise, they say, elected officials will ignore us.
Take it from a Democratic elected official who ignores us — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who recently urged Hispanics to turn out if those who support immigration reform want to "see results from the Republicans."
Unbelievable. What happened to seeing results from Democrats? You know, the party that actually owes a debt to Hispanics for their decades of support? From 2007-2011, when Pelosi was House speaker, she kept immigration reform off the agenda. She is an expert at demanding support from Hispanics, and offering nothing in return -- except deflection.
At this point, Hispanics fall into two camps: those who have had enough of the neglect, division and manipulation, and those who haven't.
Which group are you in?
Ruben Navarrette's email address is rubenrubennavarrette.com.