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From Tea Party to Tequila Party?

“I think it’s a great idea,” said DePosada. “Both parties are just playing with us. And unless we send a message to these people, they’re going to continue going as they are.”

Or listen to Arnoldo Torres, a Sacramento CA-based Democratic strategist.

“Latinos are starting to realize that Democrats are not responsive to their concerns,” Torres said. “In fact, there is phenomenal ignorance in both parties. Latinos have got to change the paradigm by demanding more.”

There has long been a frustration among Latinos that Democrats were taking their support for granted. But the straw that broke the donkey’s back was the immigration debate, which Democrats have badly mismanaged.

In 2006 and 2007, Senate Democrats -– including a freshman Illinois senator named Barack Obama –- proposed “poison pill” amendments to kill, at the behest of organized labor, a comprehensive immigration reform bill that included guest workers. In 2009 and 2010, Democrats -- in control of both the White House and Congress –- put immigration reform on the back burner to concentrate on health care, trade, global warming, education, and other matters. And finally, during last year's lame duck session, five Senate Democrats  -- Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kay Hagen of North Carolina, and Jon Tester and Max Baucus of Montana  -- voted against cloture on the DREAM Act and prevented the bill from moving to a final vote.

And yet, as bad as Democrats have been on immigration, Republicans have been worse by making the issue one of “us” vs “them” -- and putting Latinos squarely in the “them” category.

Tequila might not be on the menu for Latinos in 2012, but it could be more appetizing in 2014 or 2016. After all, as long as Latino voters feel undervalued by both parties, they’re going to be up for grabs in ways that could shake up the political system.

That’s a good thing. Loyalty is an admirable trait. But, in politics, it can be debilitating. Latinos need to give their loyalty to the Democratic Party a rest. They need to flex their muscle, express their concerns, spell out their issues, and hold both parties accountable with equal enthusiasm.

It’s true that a third party insurrection could help them do that. But this is a tall order. There is an easier way. Latino voters should simply become more engaged with the process and more demanding of the parties they have now. If they’re tired of being ignored, then they must make themselves heard.