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Latino Politics: more than just specific terminology

Whether you choose to vote or decide to turn a blind eye to the presidential election you are still an active member who is participating in the election, said Dr. Annabella España, a Latino politics professor.

“You’re participating in the sense that if you don’t cast your vote, that means that the people who do cast their vote, their vote is worth more than yours,” said Dr. España. “So by not engaging, by staying home, you’re giving your power to be a decision maker to someone else who is exercising their vote.”

Dr. España received her master’s and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Notre Dame, specializing in comparative politics and American politics.

“As a political scientist, you try to be objective and focus on their performance and how they handled the questions versus any particular preference you might have,” said Dr. España, referring to previous presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Defining Latino politics can be difficult, Dr. España said she likes to focus on the question of representation, and how are Latinos being represented at all levels of government. Not just at the national level, but the state and local levels as well, which sometimes are more important than the national level for Latinos.

“Also, focusing on how well are the interests of Latinos being represented by elected officials and the government,” Dr. España said. “I don’t think that covers everything, but I think that’s a really good starting point because it tells us to what extent the government is trying to address the needs of that population.”

Donald Trump’s derogatory terms toward latinos has also affected voter turnout, she said. Originally, there was a surge of new Latino voters and even the naturalization of Latinos.

It seemed that he [Trump] was having the opposite effect because he was being so negative towards the Latino population, especially the Mexican population but really throwing everybody under that boat because he doesn’t make a distinction,” said Dr. España. “But more recently in the last month or so, we’ve seen that turnout is not going to be as high as we had hoped. I think it will have an impact, but we don’t know what that impact will be.”