Forget the Tea Party – here comes the Tequila Party

Hispanics are the fastest growing minority in the US – and a new group wants to get them in the voting spirit

If the political frustrations felt by many Hispanics in the United States – what is it that President Barack Obama has done for them exactly? – are enough to drive them to drink, one Republican member of Congress understands it. It's why DeeDee Garcia Blase is hoping to recruit them to the Tequila Party.

Click HERE to view graphic (99k jpg)

This sounds frivolous, but it could be more. There is, after all, another political movement around in the US nowadays that also uses a beverage in its name, which, although it has no formal national structure and no single leader, has in very short order re-crafted the American political landscape. It's called the Tea Party.

The Tea Party folk, of course, have been accused by some of espousing racist doctrines particularly when it comes to the debate over immigration control. It's partly in response to that that the Tequila Party, based in Tucson, Arizona, where Ms Garcia Blase has her congressional seat, is making its stand.

Her movement is also an indication of how poorly the two traditional parties, the Republicans and Democrats, are faring with a block of voters that becomes more critical with each election cycle. Hispanics make up by the far the fastest growing minority in the US. It has grown by 43 per cent just in the last decade. Today there are 50 million Hispanics in the US accounting for 16 per cent of the population.

The purpose of the venture, according to Ms Garcia Blase, is not to create a third party in the traditional sense but rather to influence the debate on immigration in particular and to galvanise Hispanics to participate in the process and vote. Turn-out in the community has always been low, weakening its voice relative to its numbers. While the Tea Party is aligned with Republicans, the Tequila Party aims to be non-partisan.

That it has sprung out of a border city in Arizona is hardly a surprise given the state's recent attempts to enact a new law that would essentially compel the police to check on the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. Georgia has since attempted to introduce similar legislation, but in both cases the laws are being challenged by the federal government in the courts.

The Tequila Party's first major event (alcohol will not be served) is scheduled for later this month in Kansas, a state far from the border but which has generated its own share of immigration-related headlines, not least when a member of the state legislature publicly suggested that illegal immigrants be shot at the border "like pigs".

For Republicans, Hispanic support has long been elusive. While George W Bush made inroads, the party today has no prospective presidential candidate with credible ties to the community. Part of the reason that many in the party tried earlier this year to persuade the former president's brother, Jeb Bush, to put his hat in the ring was his record of connecting with Hispanics. His wife, Columba, is Hispanic.

With the exception of Cuban-Americans in Florida and New Jersey, most Hispanics would be expected to tilt towards the Democrats. But Mr Obama has flat-out disappointed many of them because of his promise in 2008 to enact comprehensive immigration reform within his first 12 months in office. Almost nothing has been done, and even a law called the DREAM Act, which sought to give citizenship to children of illegal immigrants who have grown up in the US, faltered in Congress.

It's why Mr Obama held a summit with Hispanic leaders in the White House on Tuesday and why he has agreed to speak at the annual conference of the oldest Hispanic advocacy group in the country, the National Council of La Raza, in two weeks. He will be there armed with worrying data from a Gallup poll released this week showing his support among Hispanics slumping from 73 per cent 18 months ago to 52 per cent.

"Many in our community are disillusioned about the promise they heard at our conference three years ago, where the president promised to make (immigration) reform a priority," La Raza director, Janet Murguia, told the Efe news agency. "There's a lot of frustration and bad feeling in our community, and the president has to say what it is he has done, where he has made progress, and what he still has to do to keep his promise."

Ms Garcia Blase says that she is not building the Tequila Party as an anti-Obama movement per se. "We're not going to bash politicians like the Tea Party does. This is about voting and why we're in the situation we're in," she remarked recently.

"We get kicked around by both parties, we get pandered to, it's been happening from both sides, and the reason they do it is we don't vote," adds Kevin Solis, the California state director of the Tequila Party. "We didn't vote in the primaries, we didn't vote in the nationals. We have the lowest voter participation of any ethnic group."

One Hispanic group that identifies with the Republican Party, Somos Republicans, this week tried to make its voice heard above the ruckus of the presidential nomination process by demanding that one candidate, pizza parlour entrepreneur Herman Cain, withdraw his candidacy because of his stand on immigration. Most offensive was the proposal he made last month to build a fence the entire length of the US-Mexico border that would, he said, "be part Great Wall (of China) and part electrical technology".

The immigration issue has vexed both parties in Washington for years. President Bush earned the ire of conservatives by attempting in vain to push through reform that would have both tightened border security and given a route to amnesty for the millions of illegals already in the country. Mr Obama has taken steps to seal the border and has accelerated deportation rates. Yet, he has not been able to find any formulation for addressing the status of illegal residents that would find sufficient support in Congress.

As for the name, the Tequila Party, a consultant helping to build it, Augustin Garcia, says it's an attempt at levity to make the movement accessible. "We are a culture that likes humour," he told CNN. "We're not Puritans. Humour is part of our politics as well. We could have called it the 'Café con Leche Party'. You have to laugh because there is no logic in racism."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

Front-End UI/UX Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ang

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...

C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition