Are Latinos Getting Clowned by Obama?

Are Latinos Getting Clowned by Obama?


Hyping up its launch of Latinos for Obama, which kicks off this week, Obama 2012 will highlight the effort with a series of house parties across the country and a conference call featuring comedian George Lopez.  Alongside Lopez will be the campaign’s National Political Director Katherine Archuleta and Adrian Saenz, the National Latino Vote Director.

But will the “funny man” be able to assuage Obama supporters who may not be as enthused for the President as they were four years ago? And is the use of a comedian noted for sexist and tired race humor the message that the Latino outreach arm of the Obama/Biden team wants to publicly project?

While President Obama still enjoys substantial support among Latino voters, in the past three years his presidential approval rating within the community has declined from 81% in May of 2009 to 66% in October of 2011. A poll released in December 2011 shows that only 54% of Latino voters are certain they will vote for Obama in 2012.

Two facts lead to lukewarm support from Latinos for this President: he failed to deliver on his promise of immigration reform in his first term and his Administration is widely known for record setting deportations that have broken up families. In just six months last year, the United States deported more than 46,000 parents of U.S. born children, creating a virtual foster care crisis. Additionally, the proliferation of the Secure Communities program across the country has empowered local law enforcement to act in an immigration policing fashion that has created “deportation hotspots.”

Latino communities have felt the impact of the Secure Communities program, as the burden shifts to community residents who may have to display their identification at checkpoints including citizens and legal resident green card holders. Despite some administrative policy changes that prioritize certain noncitizens for deportation over others, the devastation to the immigrant and by extension the Latino community still lingers.

Can George Lopez make Latinos who were negatively affected by the current administration’s policies laugh and forget? Perhaps, but this reeks of “Hispandering” at its worst and doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence among people who might want to support President Obama.

Lizbeth Mateo, from the National Immigrant Youth Alliance and Dream Activist California, told Politic365, “I can see why the Obama campaign would reach out to George Lopez to talk about issues that affect our community. But while this administration has been talking and talking, it has failed to do anything.”

“This administration recognizes the importance of our vote, but not of reducing the record number of deportations, passing the DREAM Act or any other reform,” adds Mateo.  “I wish that celebrities like George Lopez and others would recognize that tearing families apart and leaving thousands of children in foster care are not laughing matters. Throwing house parties and starting ‘conversations’ around election time are not enough.”

The use of George Lopez could also reflect the lack of key unifying leaders within the Latino community and the reality that he just might connect with the mass of Latino voters because of his recognition in entertainment.

Stephen Nuño, a professor of political science at Northern Arizona University, explains that “George Lopez is well liked and widely recognized, as is Eva Longoria. President Obama’s immigration policy does present problems, but Latinos like Lopez and Longoria are sure to follow the Democrat’s messaging, blaming Republican intransigence on the issue.”

“It’s not only convenient to take advantage of current partisan loyalties, but it’s also largely true.”

It will be interesting to see what kind of surrogate George Lopez ends up being for the Obama campaign in this election cycle. Without the platform of his late night show, there will be fewer opportunities for him to say something offensive that could be replayed and repeated over and over again. But there’s also the issue that the Obama administration’s policies have not always been beneficial to the community, and sending out a “funny man” to talk on its behalf could backfire with people who don’t admire Lopez’s brand of humor.


  1. There are definitely a lot of key issues in this presidential race that should concern us as Latin@s – income inequality and the erosion of the middle class, funding for education, being able to live in a fair and democratic society, and also immigration.

    I believe that the President and his administration have been fighting for most of these items but have fallen down on immigration. There will be no free pass. But when you look at all the other key issues, President Obama has been there for us and our interests.

    I don't think George Lopez is intended to be a surrogate. He's a comedian. As a comedian, he is enabled to speak his mind and not have to be politically filtered.

    I certainly don't feel "clowned" and will be hitting the streets this summer and fall encouraging others to vote for him.

    • How has Obama been there on the economy? Was it when he extended the Bush tax cuts? What about civil liberties? He's a mediocre President, at best. He's just the lesser of two evils.

      • Obama has been cleaning up the mess Bush II left us, cleaning up the banking situation (the best he could), and helping to protect the 99% by avoiding austerity measures (which Europe is proving to be failed model).

        And he's been doing all of this with the most extremist Republican opposition seen in 50 years. If you argue that point, just read Senator Lugar's (R) comments.

        No one is saying President Obama is perfect or that he will serve 100% of our best interests. But, he will continue to be a million times more supportive of Latin@ causes.


  2. Contrary to Adriana's personal views on George's comedy style, George Lopez is still a very popular national figure and part of that popularity is because of his honest and frank humor about Latinos and how we are treated in society. There are few if any Latino politicians that can garner that kind support or interest. Lopez was effective in mobilizing Latino support in 2008 and he won't be any less effective in 2012. The problem is not Lopez's humor… It is the high and unrealistic hopes that an Obama presidency created in a lot of supporters including myself. Congress passes laws not the President and anyone knows it will take a progressive Democratic majority in the House to make the Dream Act and immigration reform possible, Re-electing Obama is only half the job if we serious about helping immigrants in this country. Supporting the large number of women and people of color who are running for Congress against Tea Party Republican incumbents will be Very important if we want the promise of the Obama presidency to become reality.

    • An effective President can persuade members of the other party to vote for his issues. Obama lacks those skills. You've been brainwashed to think that one party has to have 100% of the power to get anything done, and that's false. Thats; why Obama gets away with the excuse that the GOP won't let him do anything.

      As for immigration, I don't think Obama has any intention of passing either The Dream Act or immigration reform. His actions prove that he has no intention of doing it. Why should he expend political capital on that when you guys will vote for him anyway?

  3. Although I have seen the Latino community through George Lopez’s eyes, this idea is just a tad bit more positive than using the radio disk jockey Piolin to appeal to Latino voters. I realize the Obama Campaign has probably witnessed too much disparaging behavior from the Latino organizations, the large non-profits, and the Sanchez sisters, but the reality is Obama can still lose this race. And no person of color wants to endure four years of George W Bush Mormon style hypocrisy, fiscal scandal, and duplicitous behavior at the White House funded by your tax dollars. The Latino community has Raul Grijalva, Hilda Solis, and Justice Sotomayor to look up to as examples of genuine political leadership. Actors and comedians just lend to the circus mentality that already plagues the Latino community. Look no further than Sabado Gigante with Don Francisco as an example of how the world views us. All it takes is one Secure Communities checkpoint experience to clarify how low we sit on the food chain. Although I find it hard to believe Barack Obama sees value in expanding this (Secure Communities) Gestapo-like program, I realize he has to pander to the Bible Belt, the Prison Industrial Complex, and the racist element. This episode with George Lopez hosting the campaign call just smells like a loud political fart. There I wrote it, and I stand by it.

  4. The short is answer is no. George Lopez is one voice, not the one and only.
    The President has shown his support by words and deeds. Look at who he nominated for the
    Supreme Court, Sonya Sotomayor ,and who he appointed to be secretary of Labor. Hilda Soliz
    Whose heading the Democratic National Convention. Antonio Villaigrosa. President has supported several programs to help Latinos receive a better education. Regarding immigration. The President is obligated to follow the law. We do not have an open border policy.Many employers hire illegal immigrants, instead legal residents, and citizens. That hurts Mexican Americans and other citizens. The President supports Immigration reform so do most Democrats, but not most Republicans. So if want immigration reform, then you have to give the President a Democratic congress.

  5. what a ridiculous headline. are Latinos getting clowned? is that a verb? His brand of humor didn't seem to be an issue in 2008, but now suddenly it is? all of this makes the assumption that Latinos will vote or not vote for Obama based on one issue, immigration reform. to be sure, the inability to pass reform and the deportation record are problematic. That said, it's still the pocketbook issues that matter to voters, and education and particularly the health reform bill offer significant positives for Latinos who remain the most uninsured or underinsured population in the United States.

    • Thank you for your comment. "Clowned" is a colloquial term for being "joked" or "made fun of." I have never thought that George Lopez's humor in the context of a serious campaign is particularly beneficial. This is a guy who often cracks sexist jokes and plays into Latino stereotypes. He's known for saying "F&#@ that puto." While I get that in the context of comedy, things change a bit, but is this the best we can do for these kind of campaign calls? Why not have someone who has been personally affected by the Affordable Care Act or some other Obama policy talk and lead? Does it always have to be a celebrity?

  6. The Obama administration has through the limited powers they have effected significant changes in how immigration laws are enforced. They have stopped approving and are cutting spending for the 287(g) program. And for those picked up for no crime or traffic offenses and sent to Immigration because of a local jurisdiction's participation in the horrible 287(g) program (started by the George Bush Administration) they no longer start deportation proceedings.

    In Georgia Cobb, Gwinnett and Whitefiled (Dalton) counties deported record numbers of immigrants who committed no crime other than a traffic offense, thankfully now it appears these people are no longer being deported.

    The Obama administration is also starting to let spouses or fiances of citizens apply for status without leaving the country.

    Its not the immigration reform we need but unfortunately as a first term president he was unable to get Congress to pass these laws.

  7. Latinos have two choices. They can vote for Romney, who will not support them. Or they can vote for Obama, who says he will support them . . . but lies.