Writings and observations

rainey BARRETT


In 1968, we started the tradition of honoring our Hispanic population with a National Hispanic Heritage Week. By 1989, that was officially expanded to National Hispanic Heritage Month – Sep. 15-Oct. 15 – which covers the anniversaries of independence in five Latin American Countries. If things keep growing the way they are, we’ll soon have a National Hispanic Heritage Year.

At this point, we’re going to talk statistics – something I hate to do. But all these numbers – taken from the U.S. Census Bureau 2010 reports – are not familiar to many of us. They should be. Because – more than any other single societal factor – they accurately depict the most profound changes of our ethnic makeup since this nation’s birth.

Jul. 1, 2010, 53 million Hispanics lived within our borders. Just over one million were added in the previous 12 months. That number was a little over half of all immigrants moving here in that period. Over half. And – as a percentage – that added more than two percent to the Hispanic community in one 12 month period.

At the rate things are going, America’s population in 2060 will include 128.8 million Hispanics – far and away our largest minority at that time. In fact, it already is today! Fact: the only world nation with more Hispanics than American right now is Mexico.

So, where do most live? Texas has 10 million while Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and New York have eight million each. Fact: More than 50 percent of the total number of Hispanics live in just three states: California, Florida and Texas. In New Mexico, 47 percent of the state’s total population is Hispanic. Of the 21 states where they’re the largest minority, you’ll find Oregon, Washington, Utah and Wyoming.

For the congressional bigots who are trying futilely to hold back this brown flood, some surprising news. The number of Hispanics living in poverty is going – down. The number of Hispanic businesses is going – wait for it – up.

Over three percent – or about 3.7 million – have at least a bachelor’s degree and another 1.2 million have a master’s, advanced professional or doctorate. Sort of shatters still another lie for Iowa’s Steve King and his racist claim Hispanics have “cantaloupe-sized ankles from carrying illegal drugs across the border.” The Census Bureau figures more than 14 percent of all grad and undergrad students now enrolled are Hispanic. And this one. Nearly 20 percent of Hispanics 16 years and older worked in management, business, science and the arts in 2010.

But one other statistic should strike terror in hearts of thinking Republicans. In 2010, Hispanics were seven percent of voters. In 2012, 8.4 percent. Just 24 months. And every institution that studies national trends is projecting not only more Hispanic immigration but higher and higher percentages of them voting from now on. It’s already begun.

At the moment, we’re saddled with a Congress that can’t decide whether the toilet paper goes over the roll or under. But, for reasons known only to the deadhead right-wingers who’ve clogged our democratic process, their repeated refusal to develop a workable immigration program – while many of their number backhand Hispanics and other minorities as intruders among us – is a great way to kill an entire political party.

Here’s another fact that escapes them. When someone like that idiot King doubles down on his racist rants against Hispanics, he’s being heard by the Black, Asian, Mideast, European and other immigrant groups. When he and his Republican cohorts in Washington trash any minority – while suffering no apparent political consequences for their outrageous actions – no disavowal – it’s not just Hispanics who notice. And remember. You total up the voting age population among all the immigrant groups who see firsthand the Republican Party’s seeming acceptance of King and his buddies, and the GOP will start the next national election in a deep, deep hole it can’t get out of. And the next. And the next. And the next.

The Census Bureau says the number of Hispanic business owners is now over two million. While that’s a healthy number all by itself, consider that it represents a 43.6 percent increase since 2002. 43.6! And the more than $350 billion in receipts they took in is an increase of 58 percent in the same period. 58%!

These are people who’re developing not only political clout but their own economic power. They’re taking a page from the Anglo’s and organizing both bases to increase their economic and voting importance. At the moment, thanks to King, Cruz, Lee and other flatulent GOP anti-immigration foes, all Democrats have to do is keep quiet, do some homework in precincts and stand at the polling box with arms wide open.

Again, I don’t like writing about statistical tables and miscellaneous numbers. But these are significant. These statistics are the best way to draw the new picture of who we are – of who we’re becoming. To ignore them is to ignore our future. And right now, a lot of people don’t seem to be paying much attention. They do so at their own – and their political party’s – peril.

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carlson CHRIS


Lt. Governor Brad Little is announcing this week in a series of statewide appearances that he will ask the voters to renew his lease on the state’s number two position.

They should regardless of whom the Democrats may offer as the alternative.

The former four-term state senator from Emmett has performed well whether leading trade missions or greeting visitors to his office.

In this writer’s opinion the 59-year-old Little is the best to hold the office since former State Senator John V. Evans served as lieutenant governor to Cecil Andrus. That is saying something because Idaho has had a series of fine “governors in waiting,” all of whom did the state solid service especially when called on to exercise the full power of the Office of Governor when the sitting governor is out of state.

The list includes such luminaries as Phil Batt, David Leroy, Jack Riggs and the current governor, C.L. “Butch” Otter. Others on the list include Bill Murphy, Mark Ricks and current U.S. Senator, James Risch.

While the official duties are few – chair the State Senate and, if necessary, break tie votes, as well as substitute for the governor especially when he is traveling out of state, there are numerous demands on the office. By all accounts, Little does his homework and performs well to the credit of the voters who conferred the public office on him.

The founders thought the position would be part-time, so the salary is a paltry $35,000 per year, but in today’s demanding, competitive environment, it is increasingly a full-time job. Thus, many of those who have held the office often have had to supplement needed items from their own purse.

Thus, almost all have been or are men of means.

Such is the case with Little. He is the owner and operator of a family cattle, farming and investment operation in the Treasure Valley and has served with quiet distinction on a number of boards and foundations. He is a former chair of the state’s most powerful and influential lobbying group, the Association of Idaho Commerce and Industry; and, a former president of the Idaho Woolgrower’s Association.

He wears cowboy boots, but in his case it is authentic and genuine. He projects an image of a well-educated rancher, which he is, having obtained his Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness from the University of Idaho. He is a thoughtful, solid conservative, not an ideologue nor someone who the Tea Party zealots currently plaguing Idaho’s Republican Party would embrace.

Soft spoken, he has a fine sense of humor, is well read and can give thoughtful remarks with a country-boy eloquence that engages and enthralls his audience. His political future has always been bright as he was the beneficiary of appointments to both his Senate seat and to the lieutenant governor’s office.

Even his marriage to Teresa Soulen in 1978 carried the political advantage of uniting two of the state’s most influential ranching families.

While his partisans and supporters may consider the wait for him to assume the office he seems destined for to be an overly long nine years, Governor Otter himself pointed out that he had to bide his time for 14 years.

Little knows though there is no guaranteed path to his crown prince status automatically converting to the governor’s crown someday. Popular as he is it is doubtful in 2018 he would be crowned by acclimation.

The GOP has a strong bench with at least four others having the skill and ability to be a good governor. Much as they individually may like Little, they could still mount credible challenges to his appearing to have inherited the office.

These others include House Speaker Scott Bedke from Oakley; State Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis from Idaho Falls; State Senator Dean Cameron from Rupert; and, State Senator Shawn Keough from Sandpoint.

For now though, Brad Little is a lock to be re-elected and my advice to my good friend, Larry Kenck, chair of the Idaho Democratic Party, is not to waste precious resources running anyone against him. He deserves to be returned to office and he has my vote. He should have yours also.

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