Most political observers agree that the Latino vote will be even more crucial in the future elections than it was in George W. Bush's victory in 2000. Latinos are an expanding group of voters and account for a high percentage of the electorate in swing states like Arizona, New Mexico, and Florida. And while the lion's share of the Latino vote has gone to Democratic candidates, who favor social programs and economic policies beneficial to working class people, Republicans are making inroads by playing on socially conservative themes in regard to abortion and gay rights. In The Latino Wave, Jorge Ramos offers insight into the political state of the Latino population while also pointing out how underserved Latino causes have been in the United States as well as how underrepresented Latinos are in terms of elected officials. Although the raw data make Ramos' basic thesis of burgeoning Latino voting power inarguable, his case is often undercut by clunky and obtuse analysis. Ramos ably dissects the special attention Bush paid to courting the Latino vote with the aid of talented advisors and a willingness to speak Spanish in a meaningful way but then theorizes, without much foundation, that Gore could have won Florida (and thus the election) had he only spent more money on Spanish language television in Miami. And while pointing out the tremendous size of the Latino population, Ramos makes sweeping generalities ("We enjoy 'fitting in' and following the same path as others") that serve to oversimplify. Political criticisms of former California Governor Pete Wilson, a Colorado congressman's attempts to deport an immigrant family, and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez are interesting but contribute little to the promise of the book's title. History will prove Ramos right about the growing power of Latino voters but a more specific analysis of this trend would be welcome. --John Moe, Amazon.com
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