Memories of LULAC
By Ken Dalecki
Polls are showing an increasing disaffection among Hispanics with the Democrat Party. Surely part of this is due to the "mainstreaming" of Hispanics into American society, a path followed by the Irish, Italians, Poles and so many other ethnic groups. But much of it is also due to the increasingly radical policies of the Democrat left. There are many economic and social conservatives in the Hispanic community and more and more are identifying with Republican Party ideals.
When I retired 18 years ago, a friend with whom I played racquetball asked if I would help edit a magazine for the organization where he worked, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). I agreed and came to know and like many of the people who worked at the Washington headquarters of what is the nation's oldest and largest Hispanic advocacy organization. It was founded in the Southwest in 1929 by Mexican-American citizens to combat discrimination and to promote advancement of Hispanics much like the NAACP did for Blacks. As an Anglo growing up in the Northeast, the history of discrimination against Hispanic Americans through much of the 20th Century was new to me.
My volunteer role quickly expanded and soon I was writing scripts at LULAC's annual conventions around the country. While officially non-partisan, the organization had a clear liberal Democrat tilt. Still, I was comfortable working LULAC presidents who espoused patriotism, honored veterans, promoted education opportunities, advocated strong families and fought discrimination. Unfortunately, I saw the organization veer more and more to the left until it became an unabashed subsidiary of the Democrat Party. It lost my support, and I saw some members of the organization grow uncomfortable with its viral partisanship.
Democrat administrations are able to buy loyalty by channeling contracts, grants and advertising to such groups. Their once admirable aims become corrupted by blind obedience to one political party, often to the detriment of those they claim to represent. A good example of this occurred during my affiliation with LULAC. In 2005, President George W. Bush proposed a Social Security rescue plan that included individual retirement accounts for younger workers. Rather than express interest in the idea and thus becoming a player in its development, LULAC immediately joined Democrats in condemning the proposal even though Hispanics might have fared better under such a plan. (Because of a generally shorter life span than Asians or Anglos, Hispanic workers collect little or nothing from Social Security in spite of years of contributions. At least with a retirement account, Hispanics could pass along benefits to their survivors.)
Ken Dalecki is a Member of the Maryland Republican Party Central Committee from Montgomery County