Jorge Ramos explains why Latinos are sticking with Obama

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Univision’s Jorge Ramos has earned our attention. As Politico’s Dylan Byers noted last week, Ramos, “delivered one of the toughest grillings President Barack Obama has had to face during the 2012 campaign, especially on the issue of immigration.”

After last week’s interview with the president, Ramos was invited on the “Roundtable” for ABC News’ “This Week,” where he did a terrific job of explaining why — despite President Obama’s many failings — most Latinos are sticking with him:

What happens is that, even though Latinos do care about jobs and education and healthcare — immigration is a symbolic issue. It’s personal for us. More than 50 percent of all Latinos were born outside the United States [among those] over eighteen years of age and older.

So president Barack Obama is supporting immigration reform. He’s supporting the DREAM Act. But we — I had to confront him. He broke a promise, and I had to ask him about that. And also, he has deported more immigrants than any other president in the history of the United States.

… So here you have Latinos having to decide between a president who broke a promise, but, on the other hand, they have a candidate who’s really — and whose party [has been] attacking Latinos and immigrants for a long, long time.

Fair or not, Ramos has accurately diagnosed the situation. And because some Republicans might not be able to read between his lines, I will spell it out for them:  It doesn’t matter that Hispanics are being hit hard by the Obama economy — or that Obama is deporting illegal immigrants at a faster clip than Bush — or that most Latinos are Catholic and that Obama’s HHS mandate hits the church.

All of these things are “facts,” but most of us — regardless of our ethnicity — vote on emotion (“he doesn’t like me!”) or tribalism (“he’s just like me!”) instead of the cold, hard facts (though retroactively, we often rationalize our votes by citing facts and issues.)

Perception and rhetoric, thus, often matter more than deeds or actions.

This is repellent to most conservatives who view this as symbolism over substance — but human nature doesn’t care what we want.

It’s not enough to be philosophically right. If being right won elections, liberals would never win another election. But people have to feel like you like them (or at least, they can’t feel like you hate them.) And so, much of politics is symbolic gestures. This is precisely where Republicans (who, to their credit, hate shameless pandering) are outmaneuvered.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If people think you don’t like them, nothing else matters. Ramos has done a terrific job here of explaining the problem. Let’s see if anyone else is paying attention…

Matt K. Lewis