Jose McCarthy? Plus Other Observations

Is guilt by association okay? What is a staunch liberal, anyway?

By Nick Pacheco
Published on LatinoLA: September 29, 2003

Jose McCarthy? Plus Other Observations

**** Jos? McCarthy? ****

It has really been bothering me how this Cruz Bustamante and MEChA membership thing has been lingering in the press. Everywhere I turn, the press dwells on the fact he won?t denounce the student group. I am not going to get into why Cruz does not denounce the student group MEChA. I am not even going to defend MEChA, because they are doing a good job on their own.

However, I have noticed a pattern in the campaign, a very disturbing pattern. It seems many conservative politicians, leaders and commentators have focused on demonizing MEChA and then attacking Cruz for his membership in it over twenty years ago. They don?t even point to a specific statement Cruz made as a MEChista or a specific act that he committed as a MEChista, just simply his association with the group.

That is when I realized that the political right was practicing a classic conservative attack, guilt by association -- McCarthyism 101. Joe (pictured) would be very proud of them.

But before I could get too heated about it a conservative friend of mine pointed out that the political left isn?t behaving any better in this recall election.

He talked about the United Farm Workers and Latino political leaders endorsing Cruz in Delano and practicing the same McCarthyism tactic of guilt by association. He pointed out that the Spanish expression -- ?Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres? (tell me who you go with and I?ll tell you who you are) -- was another form of guilt by association.

?Ooh, that?s right, Arnold was tagged with Pete Wilson in that rally,? I said. It seems that the people at the rally kept pointing out that Schwarzenegger?s campaign was the return of Pete Wilson and it worked in that crowd, made up of mostly Latinos. I tried to explain to him that it was fair to judge Arnold?s decision to associate with Pete Wilson and everything negative the Wilson legacy represents to Latinos. ?For God?s sake, Pete Wilson is advising Arnold,? I said. Neither one of us convinced the other that we were right, and consequently, we just ?agreed to disagree.?

At the end of the day I agreed with him that the political left, and the United Farm Workers, were getting dangerously close to practicing McCarthyism by using the Spanish guilt by association expression as a measuring stick of one?s character. We both agreed that we looked forward to the day that our politicians and leaders would practice Martin Luther King?s standard of judging people -- ?by the content of THEIR character,? not their associates, their fathers or their relatives.

**** Only Staunch Liberals Appeal To Immigrants and Working-Class Voters? ****

The Los Angeles Times recently reported [Bustamante Goes Left to Take On Schwarzenegger, Sept. 10, 2003] that Cruz Bustamante was ?increasingly veering left with appeals to immigrants and working-class voters, shucking off the label of moderate Democrat.? They go on to say that ?pairing his personal biography with a campaign platform aimed at blue-collar workers, Bustamante has positioned himself as a staunch liberal.?

The problem with this article is that it falsely asserts that only staunch liberals appeal to blue-collar workers and immigrants. There are many moderate Democrats on the Los Angeles City Council who appeal to immigrants and working-class voters, yet the Los Angeles Times has never labeled them as staunch liberals. Anyway, I am pretty sure that none of them are looking to be pigeon-holed by a narrow political label.

It is pretty universally accepted that prior to Antonio Villaraigosa joining the council, very few, if anybody, would identify any of the Latino Councilmembers as staunch liberals. Yet, these same individuals passed motions supporting an affordable housing trust fund, recognition of the ?matricula consular? and support of driver licenses for immigrants (AB 60). Maybe I?m wrong, maybe all these Councilmembers are staunch liberals and I am just not as observant as the Los Angeles Times.

**** Issa Afraid of Bustamante? ****

It seems that Darrell Issa is afraid that a splintered Republican effort, between Arnold Schwarnegger and Senator Tom McClintock, guarantees a Cruz Bustamante victory to replace Gray Davis. Boy, isn?t he pretty confident that Governor Gray Davis will be recalled.

It is still unclear whether Davis will be recalled because of the unpredictable group known as the ?occasional voter.? An ?occasional voter? is someone that generally only comes out when we are either voting for a new Governor or President. And it seems that this election is going to have quite a few voters who would fall into that category. Some of the county registrars have already predicted that this election will have a large turnout, around 60-65% of those registered to vote.

What is really amazing about Issa?s fears is that he has threatened to recommend to Republicans that they vote against the recall if the candidates don?t get their act together. Who does this guy think he is? Now, I am not a Republican, but I didn?t realize that $1.5 million bucks was all that was needed to get blind loyalty from Republicans. I wonder what Arnold?s millions are going to buy him in the Republican Party?

About Nick Pacheco:
Nick Pacheco is a former Councilmember for the City of Los Angeles. He represented the historic Eastside district. Previously published in the Northeast Observor at

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