This timely volume analyzes Latino politics in the United States through the lens of California. With Propositions 187 and 209 (the California Civil Rights Initiative) bringing particular urgency to this issue, the contributors present a broad picture of the history, demography, and contemporary challenges of Latino ethnic politics. They examine the presumed link between increases in the Latino population and enhanced Latino influence in politics; the factors that may restrict Latino political engagement, especially electoral participation; the very strong impact that education produces in the political behavior of Latino groups; and how migration interacts with ethnic politics in an age of dramatic global and regional shifts toward transnationalization. The authors consider strategies with potential to enhance Hispanics political participation, including raising their levels of educational attainment, conducting voter education and registration drives, encouraging increased naturalization rates, and so on. But perhaps the most powerful approach, an undercurrent running throughout the volume, is a redefinition of where to draw the contours of "community."
Latino responses to California's Proposition 187 demonstrated that mobilization of the Latino community alone is not enough. Latinos' best chance for success lies in forming coalitions with non-Latino groups. This message is underscored by the electoral successes Latinos have chalked up in California, all the result of Latino candidates' abilities to reach beyond their ethnic community to attract voters in a broad range of constituencies.
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