The United States has generally been a neutral country in its history. However, in 1914, the country was plunged into World War I after being provoked by many attacks. One of many small attacks included “accidentally” sinking a United States ship that was exporting goods to other England. After the sinking of the Lusitania, once the world’s largest ship, by German U-boats, the United States leaders knew it was time to join the war. Shortly afterwards, United States intervention helped the Allies, mainly France, the United Kingdom, and Russia, end the war, but the country ended up many lives, around one hundred-thousand.
While casualties were low in the United States compared to other countries, the country still did not want to suffer more losses. Therefore, the United States went into a state of isolationism following World War I. After 25 years of peace, a second war, World War II, became another prominent issue for the United States. Like the first war, The United States was again provoked into war. On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, killing over two thousand civilians. Unlike the first war, the United States decided to quickly join its allies after the bombing rather than waiting to be attacked multiple times.
The country again plunged into war, but this time, it was in the war for a much larger period of time compared to the first war. As World War II was a bigger war compared to its predecessor, more soldiers were needed to fight. With more soldiers needed to fight in the war, many people had to leave work to defend their country. This meant that jobs would have many open positions, and this wasn’t good for the economy. In order to fill the spots, the United States invited Mexican Americans to fill in the jobs that had been neglected due to war.
The program that was then started was the Bracero Program, which was a program started in 1942 to hire temporary workers from Mexico until the war ended and the people returned home. Soon, over one hundred-thousand contracts were signed to get more Mexican American workers to work in the United States. After the war ended, many of the Mexican Americans were deported back to Mexico. However, because they had a taste of having a real job with real benefits, many wanted to return the United States.
Therefore, after World War II had ended, many Mexican Americans began to immigrate to the United States, thereby raising the Mexican American population. With a slowly increasing Mexican American population, there will be more political influence in that group. Specifically, as time progresses, the Mexican American population will accelerate in growth, exponentially raising their political influence. This research paper aims to determine how the political influence of the Mexican American group has changed from 1960, when the population was not growing so quickly, to 2012, when the population growth is more prominent.
Because Mexican Americans were given a taste of America, many of them wanted to come to the United States even after being deported. Because the Mexican American voting percentage was low in the 1960 presidential election, one could assume that the Mexican American vote wouldn’t affect the election, but with Kennedy winning by such a narrow margin and with a large percentage of Mexican Americans that voted for Kennedy, he won by the narrow margin because of the Mexican American vote.
The election was extremely close with “Kennedy winning by a plurality of only 144,673 votes” (Schmal). Kennedy got just enough votes to surpass his incumbent. Due to the increasing amount of Mexicans coming into the country and being able to vote, more Mexicans were able to vote for Kennedy although it was just enough for Kennedy to win. Also, “Kennedy, who received about 85% of the national Hispanic vote,” was able to barely squeeze a victory by having Mexican American supporters (Schmal).
With such the limited number of Mexican American voters, Kennedy having the majority barely helped put him ahead of Nixon to win the election. So in the end, without the Mexican American vote, Kennedy could have lost that presidential election; he could have lost thousands of potential votes due to the 85% of the Hispanic population that voted for him. One can see that the presence of Mexican American voters helped Kennedy win his election, but Kennedy didn’t exactly try to gain the Mexican American vote through his policies.
What this means is Kennedy didn’t single out a specific group of people to help in the United States. All of Kennedy’s policies were intended to help everyone no matter what race, gender, or religion you were. The Mexican Americans that voted for Kennedy, therefore, simply liked his campaign for the nation. In more recent decades, the Mexican American population has transgressed. According to the Pew Research Center, “in the decade from 2000 to 2010, the Mexican-American population grew by 7. 2 million as a result of births and 4.
2 million as a result of new immigrant arrivals,” so we know that more Mexican Americans are populating the country from births (The Mexican-American Boom). This also means that throughout the 1940s to now, more Mexican Americans have been populating the United States in order to have more births take place in the United States. Also, this 11. 6 million total increase of Mexican Americans is only comprised of newcomers. Compared to 1960, there was quite a large number of Mexican Americans in the United States during the 2012 presidential election.
Also, according to the United States Census, the total population of citizens is 262,856,643. Knowing that the population that is able to vote and the Mexican-American population, one can assume that the vote of the Hispanic population is crucial for the victory of a candidate. With a large Mexican American population, there is, of course, more political influence from the group. However, Obama and Romney had different strategies when it came to appealing to the Mexican Americans.
One major thing Romney said was that “had [my father] been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot of winning this” in a secretly recorded video in the home of a private donor for a fundraiser (Llenas). He clearly believes if he were Latino, winning would be easier for him. This obviously offended many Latinos, and anyone who is offended by someone would think twice about voting for a man who has a demeanor that basically offends oneself. Romney saying this considerably hurt his campaign with regard to the Latino vote and, subsequently, the Mexican American vote.
These types of comments are very sensitive because many are proud of their heritage and background. Even if not many Mexican Americans were offended, other citizens might have felt bad because Romney did not want to be part of his own race. Although it might have been a joke, a candidate must watch his or her public image at all times. However, Obama took a different approach with the Latino population. Obama knew the Latino vote was crucial, and he even stated: “I will just be very blunt.
Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community” (Abdullah). Obama is showing that he knows how big of an influence the Mexican American voters will have. Obama also knows Romney made a mistake when he did nothing to appeal to the group. What’s more, Obama also issued an act: the DREAM Act. This Act allowed illegal individuals to reside in the United States so long as the individuals are working or going to school.
Because Obama was more sensitive to the Mexican American population, Obama easily got the majority vote for the Mexican American population, leaving Romney in the dust, and the results of the whole presidential election show this: Obama won the election. Millions of Mexican Americans voted “with resounding 71 percent support for Obama” because Obama has shown patronage to Spanish people (Siegel). By empathizing with the Mexican Americans, Obama clearly showed he cared more about them than Romney. With the presence of Mexican American voters, Obama easily won the 2012 presidential election.
One could see that during this presidential election, the Mexican American voting percentage for the nation was less than three percent. However, if one was to look at the Mexican American voting percentage during the 2012 presidential election in the United States between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, it would be around twelve percent. Thus, the percentage of Mexican American voters has been increasing throughout the years; therefore, Mexican Americans have more influence power because more are coming with more political power for the group.
Comparing the 1960 presidential election to the 2012 presidential election, one can see big differences. First, the percentage of Mexican American voters in 1960 was a mere 3 percent compared to the rather large 12 percent in only 2010 while the population was still growing due to more births (Schmal). From this, one can conclude that the Mexican American vote in 2012 had more influence on the presidential election than the 1960 presidential election.
What’s more is that Kennedy, the winner of the prior election, had not done much in order to get any Mexican American votes while Obama clearly had policies, like the DREAM Act, passed to help with the percent of Mexican American votes he had. Therefore, by comparing these two presidential election results and statistics, one can see that with more Mexican Americans voting, it’s imperative for the presidential candidate to sway the Mexican American voters in order to have a better chance of winning the election.
Courtney from Study Moose
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