MIAMI (BP)–When President Bush received 9 percent more of the Hispanic vote this year than four years ago, some of those Hispanics were changing their vote over key social issues because they believe the Democratic Party has abandoned the views of its base in pursuit of an extremist agenda.
“I think the election has served a great purpose to let the whole nation know there is a significant number of Americans who are very interested in the preservation of certain values that have served as the moral foundation for our country,” Marcos Antonio Ramos, a registered Democrat and pastor of Iglesia Bautista Calvario in Miami, told Baptist Press.
But now that Bush’s second term is secured, Hispanics, like many Americans, expect him to uphold his stances on issues such as abortion, faith-based initiatives and the definition of marriage.
“We now have four years to expect certain results in the appointment of judges, in the attitudes over certain moral issues that are part of the national debate,” Ramos said.
In the midst of such change, however, church leaders must be wise in their political involvement, he said.
“We have to be very careful not to give the impression that Christian groups want to take over the government. That’s my main concern at the present time,” Ramos added.
Bush won 35 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2000 and 44 percent in 2004. Hispanic support for the Democratic presidential nominee decreased from 72 percent in 1996 to 53 percent this year while the overall Hispanic vote increased from 4.9 million to 7 million people.
Ramos said besides the typical moral issues, Hispanics are concerned with finding a positive end to the situation in Iraq and with improving medical insurance, among other things.
“We expect that the [Bush] administration will be grateful to those Americans that voted for the administration despite certain weaknesses or certain deficiencies that we have perceived in the last four years,” he said. “But the votes have been cast to project a better moral picture for our country. That is very important because I don’t think this vote for the Republican Party means that Christians are going to be unconditionally in favor of whatever they do.”
No administration, Republican or Democratic, can be allowed to get out the vote on a couple of issues and not be effective in handling a broader range of issues that are important to Americans, Ramos said.
“I’m praying for the administration, and I’m praying for both parties to try to balance the very important issues that have to do with values with the needs of the population at this time and also with issues that have to do with the role of the United States in the world,” he said, alluding to the need to improve the negative image some countries now have of America.
Eladio Jose Armesto, chairman of the Democratic League of Miami-Dade County, was part of a vocal group of Hispanics who cared more about a presidential candidate’s record regarding family values than about that candidate’s party affiliation. The Democratic League, which is largely Hispanic, refused to endorse John Kerry because of his failure to stand firm on basic moral issues.
Armesto told Baptist Press the election results did not surprise him.
“From our standpoint, it was totally predictable,” he said. “We believe the American people are very much pro-family and pro-life, and they would reject the narrow, intolerant and hate-filled views that the current leadership of the Democratic Party has been promoting.
“In South Florida, I’d say about 80 percent of Hispanic Democrats felt unable to support the Democratic Party’s candidate for president because of his anti-family record.”
Despite the signals such voters hoped to send to their party leadership, Armesto doesn’t think they’re being properly heard.
“Most of our leaders have jumped on the bandwagon of denial,” he said. “They are in a complete state of denial as to why they have suffered this crushing defeat.”
But Armesto expressed hope that in time party leaders will realize where they have gone wrong and the Democratic Party will again be led by people who stand for strong family values.
“We are looking forward to moving the party towards a pro-life and pro-family position to make it more attractive to the great majority, not just of Hispanics but of Americans as well — also African-Americans because many voted against Kerry because of his anti-life, anti-family record,” he said. “I know that many black Democrats in Miami-Dade openly voiced their disagreement with the party’s extremist platform.”
In a letter sent to supporters after the election, the Democratic League said the “extremists” who have taken over the Democratic Party “must now be held accountable for condemning the party to minority status.”
Kerry’s loss, South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle’s defeat and other Democratic losses in the House and Senate “are a testimony that the party must change direction immediately or face political extinction,” the letter said.
“When it comes to decisively opposing the unconstitutional invasion and occupation of Iraq, the arms cartel’s plundering of the U.S. Treasury, the billion dollar budget deficits, NAFTA and un-American globalist economic policies, the current Democratic leadership is AWOL,” the league said.
“But when it comes to pushing the crime of abortion, the crime of sodomy, the absurdity of homosexual ‘marriages,’ the distribution of condoms to our nation’s children, as well as opposing basic rights such as parental notification, school choice, religious liberty and gun ownership, the current Democratic leadership is first in line.”
Democratic Party leaders have failed to put the interests of America first, the league said, and changes must be made.
“These elections clearly demonstrate that the current Democratic leadership is not ‘moving America forward,’ they’re moving the party backward,” the letter said.