SAN DIEGO -- At the end of this contentious presidential contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, our only consolation is that one of these guys is going to lose. Both deserve to.
Much has been said about the importance of the Latino vote. I've said a lot myself, and so of course I urge Latinos to vote -- for every office except president. They can vote for city council, state representative, governor, and Congress. But when they come to that entry on the ballot that asks them to choose between Obama/Biden and Romney/Ryan, they should skip the line.
"Skip the line" in the name of self-respect and to declare that they're sick and tired of choosing the lesser of two evils -- because, they have come to realize, the lesser evil is still evil.
"Skip the line" because, as a people who have served their country every time that Uncle Sam has called, they have earned better than having to double down on a failed presidency because they're afraid of a worse one.
"Skip the line" because, on immigration -- an issue that Latinos say they care about -- the choice is between a challenger who wants illegal immigrants to "self-deport" and an incumbent who became an expert at forcibly removing them.
"Skip the line" because, while it sounds as if both campaigns have come around to the importance of Latino voters, all they've come up with are better ways to manipulate them.
"Skip the line" because the two major political parties have become like Visa and MasterCard, more alike than they are different, and neither one has a dime's worth of respect for America's largest minority.
Even so, how Obama and Romney treated Latinos in this campaign is a new low. It was as if both candidates resented that they had to compete for those voters at all, and they lashed out.
Neither candidate understands us. Not the way that George W. Bush did. The 43rd president gave Latinos a seat at the table, and their concerns a place on the national agenda. Those days are gone.
Worse, both mistreat us. Obama does it by dangling the promise of immigration reform in front of us like a carrot in front of a horse. Romney does it by undergoing a makeover as a moderate who bears no resemblance to the immigration hard-liner he was in the Republican primary election contests.
Copyright 2012 Washington Post Writers Group