I tuned into the first installment of Paola Ramos’ MSNBC “Field Report” special on Florida’s Hispanic vote with an open mind, hoping against hope for an avoidance of the usual tropes when discussing the factors that have led Hispanics to shift to the right in 2020. I regret to inform you, dear reader, that this was not the case.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone. In his pre-coverage of the special, our colleague Alex Christy noted that “to answer the question why so many Hispanics are now voting for Republicans, NBC tasked Paola Ramos to make a Peacock docuseries and on Wednesday’s Jose Diaz-Balart on MSNBC, Ramos was able to report back an answer: disinformation, toxic culture wars, and being paranoid about socialism and communism.” This was exactly what Ramos talked about throughout the special.
Here’s how Ramos summarized her anthropological findings before going in-studio to Steve Kornacki and Carlos Curbelo:
PAOLA RAMOS: This is what we found in Florida, as voters head to the polls for the midterms. The fears of a stolen election, the trauma of communism, the complexity of navigating identity. All of that- creating a perfect storm that makes today’s disinformation more infectious, the culture wars more polarizing, and the Republican Party more appealing to certain Latino voters. The question remains: what does this aggressive rightward shift among Latinos mean for Democrats? And what does this all mean for democracy itself?
In sum: Democrats continue to lose ground with Hispanics because of disinformation and, contrary to 2016, disinformation on steroids due to culture war. Parental rights in education advocates, victims of communism with legitimate concerns over the future of the United States and those who question the results of the 2020 election are featured as wholly emblematic of the Hispanic shift. Concerns over human trafficking at the border, for example, are dismissed as Q-Anon conspiracy theories. The local Moms For Liberty were badgered over their opposition to gender and sexuality education for kindergarteners.
“Field Report” was remarkable for the issues it didn’t cover that would’ve better explained the Hispanic shift to MSNBC viewers: the Trump jobs boom vis-a-vis current inflation and baby formula shortages, Hispanic recoil away from Democrats’ culture wars, the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal, or the ongoing disaster at the border. The trauma of those who have fled communism was dismissed without any consideration of how these concerns might play out in other policy discussions, or how the cultural discussion might relate to cultural Marxism.
On Hispanic rejection of the left’s culture war, former congressman and current MSNBC analyst Carlos Curbelo nailed it on the head when he said:
I think a lot of Latinos culturally are starting to worry about what they perceive as the rapid change of the country- the way the country is opening up, perhaps being more accepting, I think that's how a lot of people would characterize it. But Latinos, especially those who came to the country a couple decades ago with an idea of what the United States was, they are identifying with this Trumpian message of “Make America Great Again. And it’s a bit ironic because you wouldn’t immediately think that that would appeal to new Americans. But in a way, it does, because they fear that the Democratic Party is moving too fast and that they're being left behind.
Hispanic rejection of the left's woke coercive culture is often underlooked when analyzing the rightward shift, but it shouldn't be.
The first installment of “Field Report” was hyped across NBC platforms MSNBC viewers (as well as perhaps Peacock, NBC Now or Telemundo because corporate synergy) as a glimpse into an elusive psyche. Instead, we got a confirmation of priors and a laying of the disinformation predicate for when Hispanics shift further to the right in the 2022 midterm election. Here’s hoping, against hope, that the rest of the series takes a different path instead of continuing to litigate 2020.