An op-ed writer at The New York Times earlier this month dredged up the old news that Jeb Bush mistakenly listed himself as Hispanic on a 2009 voter registration application. Bush called it a slip-up.
Democrats in Florida wondered whether Bush, a former governor and then a likely presidential candidate, might have committed a crime. Bush laughed it off as an innocent mistake. “Don’t think I’ve fooled anyone,” he wrote on Twitter.
The author of the piece, Eli Finkel, is a professor in psychology, not politics. He wrote, “As a psychological issue, however, Mr. Bush’s error is a prominent entry point into some fascinating questions about what shapes human identity.”
Finkel went on to say, “The first thing to notice is that Mr. Bush made a very specific error. He did not declare himself African-American or Native American. He declared himself Hispanic. Mr. Bush’s wife is from Mexico. Might his Hispanic identity have played a role in his voter registration error?”
Mr. Bush is also a politician. He can count. According to a study about Latino voters in CQ Researcher, the Latino electorate is “expanding rapidly and reshaping American politics.” It is rising up from 17 percent today. “As their influence grows, both the Democratic and Republican parties are courting Latino voters. President Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012, reflecting the Democratic Party’s traditional dominance among Latinos.”
Latinos are running for president. Senator Marco Rubio, the 43-year-old son of Cuban immigrants, weighed in this week. It is not far-fetched to see a Latino or Latina elected president. The taboos are fading.
Hillary’s made it official — she’s running, early and hard. Can a woman candidate for vice president be far behind? CQ Researcher cites demographers who say, “Latinos represent about 17 percent of the population — 54 million people — making them the single largest ethnic or racial minority.” By 2060, the Latino population share is expected to reach 31 percent.
Statistics are spinach. But this time the stats are dramatic and painting a new portrait of our country. Long overdue, we’re focusing on Latinos. The number of Latinos today is almost six times larger than in 1970, and between 2000 and 2012, it accounted for more than half of the U.S. overall population growth.
Gary Langer, who runs a survey research firm, says, “If you’re selling politics and you’re neglecting the Hispanic market, someone is eating your lunch.”
In fact, we could wind up with a Hispanic as president — Jeb Bush or somebody else.
This article originally appeared in the San Leandro Times.