Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Speaking their language

A delightful little irony emerges from the US nomination race. Rosanna Fiske notes that "Whatever the political inclination, Republicans and Democrats realize that speaking to the heart and the minds of Hispanics/Latinos across the U.S., developing nuanced, sensitive messages and addressing culturally relevant issues have never been more important".

Hence, according to Maria Teresa Petersen, executive director of Voto Latino, a nonpartisan voter registration organization, in an interview with New America Media "Candidates are spending tens of millions of dollars trying to capture the attention of Latino voters, mostly in the Spanish-language media" but here is the irony "what the campaigns haven't figured out is that 79 percent of the 18 million eligible Latino voters consume media in English"

Campaigning is all about targeting key groups, talking about the issues important to them and making it understandable, but when we say talking the same language as your voters we may not mean that literally. Perhaps this is laziness in believing that Latinos do not speak English or not sufficiently to want to process political arguments, perhaps it is a genuine attempt to reach out and embrace the community, but is it a good strategy or does this highlight that a much deeper understanding of your public is needed and gimmicks go unrewarded?

2 comments:

Gorg said...

if you think this is stupid how about the fact a camapigner for Putin was campaigning and learned phrases in 16 languages, all languages which the Putin adminsitration have been outlawing. The people thought it was a trick, were too frightened to read anything in that language and so burned them in case they were caught in possession. Says a lot abotu dumb camapigning!!

Darren G Lilleker said...

Perhaps this one says more about the state of personal freedom in modern Russia, it compares in some ways but in others it is frightening to think about that level of fear existing. Certainly the tactic was insensitive and I guess not from the Putin camp, maybe it was an attempt at defiance that backfired.