Q: “America, what if it’s Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz? Who are you going to vote for?”
A: “Well, you as a white man, who do you decide to vote for? You have so many people to choose from!”
In 2008, African-American women of voting age were asked, more times than I suspect they could keep track of, what were they voting with – their gender or their race/ethnicity? The question of “Hillary vs. Barack” was simplified for these women down to identities.
As we are knee-deep in the 2016 presidential race, I did not expect that we would be back at this simplistic and offensive point so soon. No, we’re not talking about Jewish women having to decide between Hillary and Bernie, but Latinas may soon be faced with ‘having to choose’ between their female identity and that of being a Latina.
At the 2016 MAKERS conference, actress America Ferrera revealed to Gloria Steinem that Billy Bush, host of Access Hollywood, asked her what she would do if the presidential race ended up being between Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz, his implication being that it would be tough for her to choose which identity to vote with – her Latina heritage or her gender. Ferrera was flabbergasted that Bush [nephew of George H. W. Bush and cousin of George W. Bush] would ask such a question. She did not answer his follow-up of, “So who would you choose?”
Even though she was asked this question on an entertainment sh ow, rather than a news outlet, Ferrrera was correct to point out that AH has a very large audience. To perpetuate the idea that women or Latinx people vote based on their “top” identity is dangerous.
First of all, Ferrera has supported Clinton in both her runs for the White House. There is a very large, enormous leap from supporting Clinton because she is a woman to supporting Cruz (or even Marco Rubio) because of her Latina heritage. Because Clinton’s stances on issues are sooooo different than Cruz’s or Rubio’s stances.
Second, even if a Latinx is considering supporting Cruz or Rubio simply to see a Latino become president, neither of them are great at supporting issues that are important to the Latino community. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, education, economy, and health care are the most important issues for Latinx voters in this election. OK, so it might be debatable as to who would best address the issue of the economy, but the Pew research also says that Latinx voters lean Democrat hands down.
So, Billy Bush, before you attempt to start a false choice for Latinas between Clinton and Cruz/Rubio, get your facts straight. First off, Latinas don’t vote based on a coin toss between our gender and our heritage. Second of all, Latinas know that neither Cruz or Rubio will fight to ensure better health care, sensible immigration reform or to strengthen our public education system.
Let that be a lesson for anyone else considering this false dichotomy as click bait. Just don’t.
Veronica Arreola writes the blog Viva la Feminista, where she tries to navigate and understand the intersection between feminism, motherhood and her Latinidad. You can follow her on Twitter @veronicaeye. To contact Veronica for an interview or to book her as a speaker, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo is screen capture from MAKERS video.