Friday, March 04, 2005

¿Cómo usted dice: Guestblogger?

A guest post from Mark, capitol insider:

¿Se Habla Espanol?

Republicans speaking Spanish? What’s next, Democrats balancing the budget? NPR and other media today reports that Republican Assemblymembers are taking Spanish languages classes at the State Capitol once a week on Thursday mornings.

Assembly Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, or “jefe” as he is now known, says that the course is designed to help members communicate with their constituents who don’t speak English.

As expected, there was a rather mocking response by members of the Democratic Latino caucus. Says Juan Vargas (D-San Diego), "(Republicans) think if they learn a little Spanish, people are going to vote for them. I think they'll [quickly] learn… 'No votamos por ustedes' " which means, "We won't vote for you."

I doubt that Reps are naive enough to think that the basics of the Spanish language are going to persuade voters to come to our camp. The reality is that although many Hispanics identify with the Republican social positions on life, marriage, drugs and religion, what drives Hispanic voters to the polls are the inequities in education, jobs, and healthcare. Before you can ask someone to vote for you, you have to address the basics of equality first.

Personally, I applaud the initiative taken by these members, and appreciate their efforts to improve communication with their constituents. Remember these Republican members run in safe districts and therefore really don’t need to increase their base to win seats. However, they represent large Hispanic populations, especially those members from the inland empire/central valley areas of the state. Good government starts with clear communication, and the commitment of these members to understanding their constituents should be noted.

Ed.'s note: The Roundup highlights Republican Mountjoy's reaction to the lessons:

Dennis Mountjoy won't be joining the Republican caucus' Spanish lessons. The Bee's Jim Sanders gets the quote "'If I go to Mexico, they're not going to speak my language, I'm going to speak theirs. ... Why is California so unique that we have to learn their language?' Mountjoy asked."

When the caucus starts offering classes in how to speak Mountjoy, please let us know.

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