The Daily Beast

Alex Padilla Wins California’s Kentucky Derby of Identity Politics


When California Secretary of State Alex Padilla got the shock of his life on a video call Tuesday with his old friend California Gov. Gavin Newsom, he stayed in character.

As a California-based Mexican American journalist who has covered elected officials for 30 years, here’s my executive summary of how Latinos approach politics: We’re passive, deferential, and respectful. We fall in line, and we don’t challenge authority. We don’t protest, demand, pressure or threaten. We accept what we’re given by the powers-that-be with humility and gratitude, head lowered and hat in hand. We don’t strut, act entitled or complain—even though, as anyone can see, we have a lot to complain about.

Written off by Republicans and taken for granted by Democrats, we are loyal to a fault to politicians and parties even when we’re betrayed. We don’t scream and yell. But, every once in a great while—when things actually go our way, and the person who should get the job actually gets the job—we have been known to cry a little. That’s how Latinos roll. We tear up when talking about the things that make us feel small: our families, our country, and our God.

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