The Real Bush Record with Texas Hispanics

by Texas State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos (D-Austin)
& Texas State Senator Mario Gallegos (D-Houston)
       In true wizardry style, Governor George W. Bush and the Republican National Convention trotted out a seemingly endless stream of Hispanics in an attempt to conjure up an illusion that Hispanics enthusiastically support the GOP nominee. As with all magic tricks, we want to believe that what we see is real, but we know better. We know the real Bush/GOP record back home in Texas. When Governor Bush talks about his record on Hispanic issues, here are a few facts to keep in mind.

       Fact #1: Most Texas Hispanics oppose Bush. The Governor’s claim to have won overwhelming support from Hispanic voters does not reflect reality. In 1998, the Governor received only a third of the Hispanic vote, according to most estimates. Bear in mind, he spent almost 2 million dollars on Spanish-language media, while his opponent spent about $10,000.

       Fact #2: Bush has ignored border issues. Amid all the hoopla at the GOP convention, did anyone notice that Governor Bush did not brag about his record on Hispanic issues in Texas? Why? Because compassionate conservatism means indifference (at best) and third world conditions (at worst) to Hispanics in Texas. That’s why Bush and the GOP didn’t showcase the 43-county border region in Texas. If this region were the 51st state, it would rank:

       Since Governor Bush took office, average per capita income in the border region has dropped a point a year relative to the rest of the country. Where is his compassion?

        Fact #3: Bush has never visited a single colonia. In his acceptance speech, Governor Bush did not mention colonias--sprawling shanytowns along the border that lack basic services such as water, sewer, and electricity. There are about 1500 colonias from El Paso to Brownsville, with about 400,000 residents, mostly Hispanic. These Texans live in third world conditions, with the highest unemployment, poverty and drop-out rates in the country, as well as a much higher incidence of diseases like hepatitis A and tuberculosis. The Governor has refused numerous invitations to visit the colonias to see these conditions firsthand. He can go to Bob Jones University, but he can’t find time to visit colonias in his own back yard.

       Fact #4: Bush opposed kindergarten expansion. Last week, the GOP touted Governor Bush’s record on education. But back in Texas, the Governor opposed expansion of funding for kindergarten. The Governor chose tax cuts over providing early education opportunities for Hispanic children.

       Fact #5: Bush’s health insurance proposal would have left Hispanic children behind.

       Last week [at the Republican Convention] Governor Bush did not brag about health insurance in Texas, because the state has the most children without health insurance anywhere in the country, and most of these children are Hispanic. More than 250,000 children would have been excluded from the Bush proposal for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), all in the name of saving money. And here’s the irony--the Democrats prevailed with a proposal that included eligible children and now Bush takes credit for it.

       Fact #6: Governor Bush has failed to support the nomination of Hispanic federal judges. The nomination of a highly qualified Texan, Enrique Moreno, to the Fifth United States Circuit Court of Appeals, drew immediate opposition from Texas’ two Republican Senators. Although Bush’s support would likely have removed that opposition, he has not lifted a hand to help Moreno.

       Fact #7: Governor Bush’s appointees do not reflect the face of Texas. One of the most important responsibilities accorded the Governor of Texas by the state constitution is to fill scores of state appointments. Since taking office, Bush has named thousands of appointees. Of these, 80% are white, 12% Hispanic, and 7% African American, yet the population of Texas is 56% white, 30% Hispanic, and 12% African-American.

       Fact #8: Governor Bush didn’t ask Health Commissioner Archer to resign. Why didn’t Bush invite his hand-picked commissioner, Reyn Archer, to the podium? Maybe he feared that the public might be reminded of Archer’s outlandish opinion that the reason for high teen pregnancy rates among Hispanic girls in Texas is because Hispanic girls apparently “want to be pregnant.” To add insult to injury, Archer previously had attempted to close school-based health clinics statewide. LULAC, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, MALDEF, LCLAA, and others called for Archer’s resignation. But the Governor continues to stand by his man.

       The Bush campaign creates a misleading image that they want us all to believe. But it’s stubborn facts like these that will continue to shatter the illusion of compassionate conservatism--eight relevant facts that dispute Bush’s claim of widespread Hispanic support. These facts reveal more contempt than compassion when it comes to Hispanic issues. Bush-style compassion and leadership has not been good for Texas and it won’t be good for America.


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This story was published on August 30, 2000.