New Policy Institute

Targeting — And Maybe Influencing — Hispanic Voters

A new Spanish-language radio ad recalls Latino icons Roberto Clemente, Selena and Cesar Chavez, then gives a call to action: "This year, it is up to you to decide if we stay where we are or if we continue to move forward...Move foward and vote."

So whom would Selena choose — Barack Obama or John McCain? The group running the ad campaign, New Policy Institute, is officially nonpartisan and isn't mentioning candidates. But there's little doubt what its motives are.

The Institute is run by Simon Rosenberg, who worked on the presidential campaigns of Michael Dukakis and Bill Clinton, as well as at the Democratic National Committee. Rosenberg also founded the New Politics Institute, a liberal think tank, and the New Democrat Network (now simply NDN), an advocacy organization partially funded by unions.

The radio ad is running in Colorado — and soon in other states, according to the institute. If Coloradans don't want to hear it, they shouldn't listen to Spanish-language radio: the campaign is supposed to be "saturation-level."

This campaign is a project of the Tides Center, a California organization that sponsors a multitude of progressive advocacy programs. Tides is run by Drummond Pike, who co-founded the liberal phone company Working Assets and sits on the board of the Democracy Alliance along with other high-net-worth Democrats.

But what if the radio ads turn out pro-McCain Latino voters? Clearly, the organizers don't worry about that. As NDN's Andres Ramirez wrote in June, "It is clear that McCain has been unable to differentiate and/or distinguish himself from the Latino community's negative view of the GOP. If these trends continue, this will make the five heavily Hispanic states of Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Florida much more Democratic - a shift that, alone, could give Barack Obama the presidency."

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Mr. Evans imputes a political interest or bias to one of democracy's most essential foundations: the active participation of all citizens in voting. How cynical. It is the same rationale that fuels voter suppression strategies. Wouldn't our democracy be better off if everyone voted? Isn't that the idea of democracy?

Tides Center has proudly supported many initiatives that encourage marginalized populations to become more active in the democratic process. And we don't care what party they vote for; we care that they vote.

Sent by Drummond Pike, CEO Tides | 6:08 PM | 9-24-2008

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