Body Politic

Can we agree that Latinos vote? And that, for years, they've constituted a powerful electoral minority—the kind of minority that requires a candidate to eat a taco, utter a few words in Spanglish during campaign stops, and swear to God he'll beat his opponent like a piata? That Latinos are done lifting weights, stretching and flexing—done preparing to become political and are already, in fact, participants in that serapewe call the American political fabric? That they've thrown their sombrerosinto the bullring? That they're ready to eat the still-beating hearts of their liberal or conservative opponents? That their campaign war chests are bulging—with pesos?

If we could agree on this much, we could save readers stories like the one that ran in last Monday's Los Angeles Times—”Latinos, Flexing Political Muscle, Come of Age in LA”—and could spare reporters the indignity of having to write them. At the very least, we could agree that we're done hearing about anyone's “muscle.” It's unsavory. And it's old. And it sounds like a clumsy reference to “penis.” Here's a brief sampling of similar stories from the past few years:

“Awakened Latinos Flex Political Muscle”(LA Times, Feb. 14, 1991), “Hispanics flex political muscle in OC”(OCRegister, June 29, 1991), “Hispanic group sets agenda for Aurora Alliance to work for political muscle”(ChicagoTribune, Dec. 27, 1991), “Hispanics to Flex Political Muscle”(Chicago Sun-Times,Oct. 8, 1992), “LatinosToldtoFlexPoliticalMuscle”(Allentown, PA, MorningCall,May 24, 1994), “Latinos Flex Political Muscle”(The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education,Oct. 27, 1995), “Latinos flexing political muscle”(The Washington Times,May 12, 1996), “Latinos flex political muscle”(The Independent[London], Oct. 8, 1996), “Hispanics Must Flex Political Muscle and Reach Out to Kids”(Orlando Sentinel,April 3, 1998), “Latinos Ripping Off their Masks of Invisibility: They Are Flexing Political Muscle as Their Numbers Grow”(The Philadelphia Inquirer,July 26, 1998), “Idaho Hispanics urged to boost presence by flexing political muscle”(Deseret News[Salt Lake City], Dec. 6, 1998), “Latinos flex political muscle”(Ventura County Star,Jan. 12, 1999), “Hispanics'questforpoliticalmuscle”(The HoustonChronicle,July 25, 1999), “LocalleadersurgeHispanicstoflexpoliticalmuscle”(Arlington, VA, ArlingtonMorningNews,Sept. 13, 1999), “Latinos flexing political muscle in California”(The Guardian[London], April 3, 2000), “Hispanicpoliticalmusclenotyetflexed”(Westchester County, NY, TheJournalNews,Sept. 21, 2000), “Onelectioneve,Latinosflextheirpoliticalmuscles”(Associated Press, Nov. 6, 2000), “Strength in numbers gives Latinos new political muscle”(Rochester Democrat and Chronicle,NY, March 14, 2001), “The biggest U.S. minority group, Hispanics have yet to flex their political muscle”(Time Magazine,June 11, 2001), “Latinos Are Primed for Political Muscle”(Contra Costa Times,June 30, 2001), “Latinos Flex Muscle at the Poll”(Hoy, March 13, 2002), “South Fork Latinos Flex Political Muscle”(The New York Times,Jan. 5, 2003), “Local Hispanics flex political muscle”(Poughkeepsie Journal,Oct. 7, 2003), “Arizona, New Mexico Latinos could flex new muscle in Southwest”(Sacramento Bee,Jan. 29, 2004), “Non-CubanHispanicsBuildPoliticalMuscle”(Fort Lauderdale, FL, Sun-Sentinel,Nov. 4, 2004), “Latinos flex political muscle in L.A.”(Austin American-Statesman,May 19, 2005), “Latino political muscle flexed in L.A. mayor's win”(The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,May 19, 2005).

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