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The Ides of October
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October 17, 2008

Bill Moyers sits down with chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and FOX NEWS political analyst Linda Chavez and NATION contributor and writer with New American Media Roberto Lovato to review the news of the week and talk about what's missing from political conversation.

Roberto Lovato

Robert Lovato, photo by Robin Holland Roberto Lovato is a New York-based contributing Associate Editor with New America Media and a frequent contributor to THE NATION Magazine. He's also written for the LOS ANGELES TIMES, SALON, DER SPIEGEL, UTNE MAGAZINE, LA OPINION, and other national and international media outlets. On the electronic front, Roberto has produced programming for NPR, Pacifica and the Univision Television Network, where he helped develop and produce HORA CERO, one of that networks first documentary series about immigration in the United States. He's also the former Executive Director of CARECEN, which was the largest immigrant rights organization in the country. You can find him posting regularly on media, migration, politics and other issues at his blog,

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez, photo by Robin Holland

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a non-profit public policy research organization in Falls Church, Virginia. She also writes a weekly syndicated column that appears in newspapers across the country and is a political analyst for FOX News Channel. Chavez authored OUT OF THE BARRIO: TOWARD A NEW POLITICS OF HISPANIC ASSIMILATION. NATIONAL REVIEW described Chavez's memoir, AN UNLIKELY CONSERVATIVE: THE TRANSFORMATION OF AN EX-LIBERAL, as a "brilliant, provocative, and moving book." Chavez's latest book is, BETRAYAL: HOW UNION BOSSES SHAKE DOWN THEIR MEMBERS AND CORRUPT AMERICAN POLITICS. In 2000, Chavez was honored by the Library of Congress as a "Living Legend" for her contributions to America's cultural and historical legacy. In January 2001, Chavez was President George W. Bush's nominee for Secretary of Labor until she withdrew her name from consideration.

Chavez has held a number of appointed positions, among them Chairman, National Commission on Migrant Education (1988-1992); White House Director of Public Liaison (1985); Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1983-1985); and she was a member of the Administrative Conference of the United States (1984-1986). Chavez was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Maryland in 1986. In 1992, she was elected by the United Nations' Human Rights Commission to serve a four-year term as U.S. Expert to the U.N. Sub-commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.

Chavez serves on the Board of Directors of ABM Industries, Inc., where she chairs the Compensation Committee, and Pilgrim's Pride Corporation*, as well as on boards of several non-profit organizations. Chavez also chairs the Latino Alliance, a federally registered political action committee.

The Promise of the Hispanic Vote

It's no secret that the growing number of Hispanic voters in America is a constituency both parties would dearly love to hold close. You only need to see the dollars poured into swing states with large Hispanic populations, like New Mexico and Florida, to understand the scope. In late 2007, it seemed that immigration might top the list of issues in the 2008 campaign. Vote-watchers also speculated that some Hispanics, conservative on social issues, might switch their traditional allegiance from the Democratic Party to the GOP.

Things haven't played out according to projections. The Pew Hispanic Center released a report in December 2007 which found:

After spending the first part of this decade loosening their historic ties to the Democratic Party, Hispanic voters have reversed course in the past year...Some 57% of Hispanic registered voters now call themselves Democrats or say they lean to the Democratic Party, while just 23% align with the Republican Party — meaning there is now a 34 percentage point gap in partisan affiliation among Latinos. In July, 2006, the same gap was just 21 percentage points.
Roberto Lovato writes that he had to wait until debate number three to finally hear someone address the U.S.'s relationship with its near neighbors. And Linda Chavez incurred the wrath of some of her fellow GOP members with her article "Latino Fear and Loathing" about the anti-immigration rhetoric being promulgated by some conservative pundits. She states: "I expect more from my fellow conservatives. We can do better than to marginalize some 42 million Hispanics by careless rhetoric — we ought to reach out to those who already share our values and encourage others to embrace them, for their sake and ours."

Published October 17, 2008.

Guest photos by Robin Holland

*Pilgrimís Pride Corporation (NYSE: PPC) is the largest chicken company in the U.S. and the second-largest in Mexico.

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Bill Moyers talks with poet Martín Espada about the power of words to effect social change.

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From BILL MOYERS ON FAITH AND REASON. Bill Moyers sits down with acclaimed journalist and essayist Richard Rodriguez to discuss the intersection of his personal life with some of the most vexing cultural and political problems facing America.

References and Reading:
Roberto Lovato

Roberto Lovato's Blog: Of América

Roberto Lovato in THE NATION


Linda Chavez

Center for Equal Opportunity
"The Center for Equal Opportunity is the nation's only conservative think tank devoted to issues of race and ethnicity."

Linda Chavez Archives, JEWISH WORLD REVIEW

"Latino Fear and Loathing", Linda Chavez,, May 25, 2007.
Linda Chavez's frank assessment of the immigration debate in contemporary America. Followed by "Latino Fear and Loathing, Part II"

"The Company You Keep," Linda Chavez, NATIONAL REVIEW online, June 11, 2007.
Chavez answers some of the critics of her "Latino Fear and Loathing" article. In turn, the NATIONAL REVIEW site has posted a number of responses to "The Company You Keep" as a NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE Symposium.

Additional Resources

Latinos '08 investigates whether Latinos, like Irish and African Americans, will coalesce as a bloc. With low rates of naturalization and low turnout among those who are naturalized, Latino voters have yet to achieve the level of political participation of other groups. Those who do vote constitute a volatile and increasingly divided electorate. In 2004, for example, the Latino vote was roughly split between the two parties.

NOW on PBS: The Hispanic Vote, January 11, 2008
The booming Hispanic population in political swing states is creating opportunities and headaches in both political parties as they try to court the Latino vote. NOW on PBS travels to Florida just weeks before its important primary to examine Republican tactics to win over Hispanic Americans.

THE TAVIS SMILEY SHOW: Sen. Mel Martinez, September 4, 2008.
When Mel Martinez was elected as the junior senator from Florida, he made history as the first Cuban American to serve in the U.S. Senate. He previously chaired the Republican National Committee and served as HUD secretary. Martinez came to the U.S. at age 15 as part of a Catholic humanitarian effort'a journey he writes about in A Sense of Belonging. Prior to entering public service, he practiced law for 25 years, helmed the Orlando Utilities Commission and chaired the Orlando Housing Authority.

"Issues Start Rush to Vote by Hispanics," Julia Preston, THE NEW YORK TIMES, February 5, 2008.
"Spurred by the widespread crackdown on illegal immigration and by the contentious tone of the national immigration debate, Latinos are gearing up for Tuesday's voting with an eye toward making Hispanics a decisive voting bloc nationwide in November."

Latinos, religion and change: Minnesota Public Radio
"A new report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life indicates that Hispanics are transforming the religious landscape in America, and that transformation may have political implications as well."

"Obama Reaches Out to Smaller Latino Communities," THE WASHINGTON POST, Ed O'Keefe, October 9, 2008.
The blog "The Trail" documents a new spate of Spanish-language advertising which shifts topics from immigration, to health care and taxes, and intensifies its bid to win Latino voters in the South, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.

"Obama, McCain Chase Hispanic Vote," FOXNews, October, 6, 2008.
FOXNews evaluates the end of the campaign race for Hispanic votes in swing states like Florida and New Mexico.

"Obama, McCain Court Rising Latino Vote," CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, Mike Farrell and Randy Dotinga, July 14, 2008.
THE MONITOR takes stock of the race for Hispanic votes. Their Web site has a special audio interview with a spokesperson for a Latino youth group about prospects for the Dream Act, congressional legislation to let foreign-born minor children of illegal immigrants apply for legal status in the US.

Pew Hispanic Center
"Founded in 2001, the Pew Hispanic Center is a nonpartisan research organization supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Its mission is to improve understanding of the U.S. Hispanic population and to chronicle Latinos' growing impact on the entire nation."

S.1033, the McCain-Kennedy immigration act
The full text of the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill, officially titled the "Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act." Roberto Lovato mentioned the bill during the interview with Bill Moyers.

RELIGION AND ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY: Hispanic Voters. October 6, 2006
The PBS show's coverage of Hispanic voters includes an extended interview with Samuel Rodriguez.

Also This Week:

Bill Moyers sits down with Mark Crispin Miller, professor of Media Ecology in the Department of Culture and Communication at NYU, who has been following voter fraud allegations in his blog News from the Underground. An expert on propaganda and media, Miller's book LOSER TAKES ALL is an anthology of writings covering election fraud.

Roberto Lovato and Linda Chavez on politics two weeks before the election.

Michael Zweig joins Bill Moyers on the JOURNAL to shift the focus from Wall Street to the people who will be most hurt by a protracted recession, everyday workers.

Is the American Dream in danger during our financial downturn? Or is the American Dream now about something new? Our guests and our viewers speak out.

Add your voice to our election year map. Plus, get perspective on pressing election-year issues from JOURNAL guests.

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