Mike Madrid is a specialist in Latino voting who has become a permanent reference in electoral campaigns in recent years. Madrid is co-founder of the Lincoln Project, the Republican PAC that emerged in 2020 with the purpose of reaching Latinos with an anti-Trump message that was most effective and collaborated in the defeat of the former president. Strategist and managing partner of the firm GrassrootsLab, the consultant innovated again this year when he decided to join forces with Democratic consultant Chuck Rocha. Together they created the podcast "The Latino Vote" and now they have just launched a website that will have the same name.
Madrid is based in Sacramento, California, but is permanently online, even on top of planes. Rocha's partner maintains that the United States is experiencing a demographic change that is unprecedented, disruptive and is transforming a "very American" identity, which was unaware of the Nation's tribal origins. The mutation, Madrid points out, is driven by the new generations of Latinos, who have a vision opposite to that of previous generations and do not want to be accepted as a minority. "Younger Latinos have a completely different view of empowerment than Baby Boomers and GenXers," she says. In an exclusive dialogue with LPO, he spoke about the importance of the Latino vote and about the mistakes made by the media and partisan establishment when speaking to Hispanics.
Why did you decide to create a podcast and a website about Latino Vote?
Chuck Rocha and I became friends during the 2020 election. We knew of each other professionally but developed a personal relationship as we shared thoughts about what both the Republican and Democratic parties were getting right and wrong with Latino voters.
We both felt the need to talk more about the Latino vote from a bi-partisan perspective, recognizing both parties really lack a firm grasp of what's going on in the community. From there a podcast made sense and it was so well received we added a website that aggregates Latino political news stories. It's been a great success. Much bigger than we expected.
You say that we are attending to a big transformation in the United States and that the country is changing dramatically. Can you explain more about this big change?
Well the United States has never been a country where the majority of its people were anything other than a majority of European white descendants. That won't be the case within the next 40 years or so. This demographic change isn't only unprecedented, it's disruptive. It's upending our very American identity, it's changing American culture, and of course it's changing our politics.
Fundamentally this extraordinary demographic change is forcing us to question the very foundation of our country - do we honestly believe that America is an idea where all of us are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights? Or do we really believe that's reserved for white Christians?
It has been easy to answer that question when you're never faced with really changing who you are as a people but as we become less white, less Christian and as women grow into positions of power we're really being challenged about things we believed about ourselves and took for granted. Truth is we're not doing so well there. We're far more biologically tribal than our American mythology has us believe.
What kind of consecuences can produce this transformation over the political scenes?
In the short term we can expect a much more acrimonious and tense political environment than we are used to in the US. The tone and anger in our discourse, smatterings of violence and the demonization of opposing parties is a relatively new phenomenon in this country. This makes it very hard to govern. Compromise becomes nearly impossible and there is no incentive to work with people across the aisle.
Unfortunately this creates a downward spiral that feeds on itself. No compromise, more anger, less trust, no compromise and so on. History suggests this doesn't end well and while I believe the US will ultimately be a stronger and better nation for this difficult time there is no question it is taking a toll on our collective spirit and our belief in ourselves as a nation.
Change is boosted by a new generation of latinos. Which are the differences that you see between young latinos and the previous generation?
I first saw the generational divide occur in our politics in the 2016 Nevada Caucuses. Hillary Clinton won over 45 Hispanics overwhelmingly and Bernie Sanders won under 45 Hispanic voters overwhelmingly. They ended up splitting the state with no clear winner of the caucuses.
It was really a defining moment for the Latino community. For me it was a moment I had been looking for for 25 years as a student of Latino politics. There was a generational clash among Latinos and that moment really severed the idea of a Latino voting bloc for good.
Older Latinos really were playing out their generational vision of being accepted by establishment Democrats. By being good and playing the part for the party they felt their loyalty was finally being repaid and they were finally coming into their own. It was a function of activists in the 1970's and 80's playing the minority stereotype that worked for the Democrats and it's fine when you're a small community that's marginalized.
Younger Latinos want no part of that. They have a completely different view of empowerment than Baby Boomers and GenXers. They saw the â€˜good minority' model played by their parents and said â€˜we're not doing that'. Their numbers, social media platforms and cultural influence allowed them to flat out reject the path their parents took. Young Latinos are anti-establishment and reject the power structures their parents built for them. In many ways it's populism - a rejection of the establishment- and it should surprise no one that both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump overperformed expectations of the Latino vote. It's not just the system that hadn't worked for Latinos - it's the parties themselves
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