Texas Libertarians are hopeful their message of personal freedom and limited government resonates with Texas Latinos.
A modest gathering of individuals from a variety of backgrounds met in Austin on Saturday for the official launch of Texas Libertarios, a political action committee meant to rouse the interest of Latinos disenchanted with the current two-party system.
The campaign will be considered a success even if it doesn’t guarantee that more Latinos vote for Libertarian candidates this election cycle, so long as they join the discussion, says Libertarian Party of Texas Chairman Pat Dixon.
“This is one avenue to reach out to people that are waiting for a different message and to engage them. We can discuss things, and [Latinos] don’t have to agree with everything we say, but let’s start the conversation,” he says.
One thing Dixon says will resonate is the party’s stance on immigration, which he believes offers an alternative to the standard fare offered up by Republicans and Democrats.
“I hear from the Republican Party, ‘We have to keep you out.’ What I hear from the Democratic Party is, ‘Well, we’ll let a certain number of you in, and here is the mountain of paperwork you have to climb.’ It’s easier to swim the Rio Grande than to climb the mountain of paper work,” Dixon says. Instead, he wants Latinos to know Libertarians promote legal immigration without the bureaucratic hurdles.
“If you are going to be peaceful and productive, welcome,” he says. Dixon adds that the party doesn’t have an official stance on the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as young children a chance at permanent-residency status — if they meet specific requirements. He says it sounds like a good start but still isn’t a message of “welcome.”
“It has to be a policy that says let’s not create a mountain of bureaucracy,” he says.
Texas Libertarios spokesman Ben Ramirez III says the Latino community already holds true to one of the party’s tenets: strength through community.
“It’s the community involvement that the Libertarian Party offers, which means smaller government [and] means somebody else has to take up the slack. The Hispanic community is very open in respecting the families, doing whatever they can to help out,” he says. Current violence on the border — something that most Latinos in Texas are following regardless of party affiliation — has unfortunately tainted the image of Latinos in Texas, he notes. But, he says, the party’s belief in less regulation of business matters and its championing of the free-enterprise system will create more opportunities for U.S. businesses to thrive in Latin America. In turn, it will create more opportunities for residents there to turn to something other than crime. Ramirez says the Libertarios also favor the legalization of drugs, which some North American officials posit would curtail the violence plaguing border towns.
“The U.S. government has the opportunity to look at these test cases that are already ongoing and [find] this makes more sense, that there are ways that we can limit the amount of violence,” he says.
As to whether Libertarian support for same-sex unions might offend some Latinos, some of whom view homosexuality in a negative light, Ramirez says recent actions by the Mexican government debunk that myth.
“If two consenting adults want to engage in consensual relationship, they should be allowed to,” he says. “The argument that Latinos don’t approve of this is tenuous, because you can look at …the Distrito Federal [the Mexican federal district].” The Mexican Supreme Court ruled this summer that the country’s 31 states must recognize all same-sex marriages performed in the capital.
“That [argument] doesn’t fly,” he says.