While media pundits continually speculate over the future leanings of the so-called “Latino vote,” Benjamin Francis-Fallon
historicizes how Latinos were imagined into a national electoral constituency in his new book The Rise of the Latino Vote: A History
(Harvard University Press, 2019). Francis-Fallon, Assistant Professor of History at Western Carolina University, examines the rhetorical construction of a national voting bloc by politicians, parties, and a national network of Latino political elites. This interview explores some of the major themes in the book, including the essential role of Latino congressmen, the ideological struggles between Latino elected officials and radical activists, and the ongoing appeals to a panethnic Latino voting bloc from presidential campaigns. Of course Democratic Party politics is only half of the story, with the efforts of the Republican Party featuring prominently in the text as well. By discussing the parallel Latino engagement strategies of both parties, Francis-Fallon underscores the fact that the “rise of the Latino vote was a multiparty phenomenon.” Building upon existing studies that detail how panethnic Latinidad
was constructed in the twentieth-century United States, Francis-Fallon adds national and presidential politics to the list of forces that continue to define what it means to be Latino.
Jaime Sánchez, Jr. is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at Princeton University and a scholar of U.S. politics and Latino studies. He is currently writing an institutional history of the Democratic National Committee and partisan coalition politics in the twentieth century. You can follow him on Twitter @Jaime_SanchezJr