My License To Take Part in the California Dream

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That’s it. I’m changing my name from Steven Greenhut to Esteban Casaverde.

It’s not an exact translation, but it’s close enough. My oldest daughter is happy about the change, given that her A-/B+ grades probably won’t get her into the best University of California schools. Add the new last name and, heck, she could get Cs and still get in.

Once I have her scholarship sewn up, I’m heading down to the Department of Motor Vehicles, with my fake Mexican papers in hand. The folks at the DMV might not read Spanish, so they won’t know my papers are really a label from a can of menudo. Even if they do read Spanish, they won’t care what "ID" I hand them. That’s all I need to get my new driver’s license, which I can then use to tap into other sources of income.

But first I have to figure out a way to get into this country illegally.

I don’t care much about voting, but while I’m at it I’ll check the Motor Voter blank on the form anyway. One never knows when a fellow member of La Raza needs some extra help getting elected. Can’t let the Anglos run everything, can we?

Fight the power!

Too bad I missed the Mexican Independence Day Parade in East LA. Recall candidate and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was booted from the festivities after Gov. Gray Davis muscled in. Davis also blasted Schwarzenegger for not speaking proper English when Arnie says, Cally-forny-ahh. Of course, Davis said this in South El Monte, where not many people can properly pronounce California.

Davis is playing race politics, but ineffectively in my view. He should have changed his name, like I did, maybe rediscovering some long-lost Central American ancestor. Jose "Gray" Davez. Now that’s a name that will win someone votes.

Davis was on a bus, beside a waving Mexican flag, during the festival. He was next to Gil Cedillo, who authored the driver’s license bill for illegal, I mean, undocumented immigrants. Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn was there also, even though he is a white guy who beat one of my own new compadres, Antonio Villaraigosa.

It’s a pretty name — Vee-ah-ray-gosa — even though Antonio really made it up the way I made up my own new last name. He merged his last name with his wife’s, to give the most effect (He was Villar, she was Raigosa, they dropped one "R"). I simply translated my Anglicized German last name, but there’s lots of latitude here.

U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez used to be Loretta Brixey when she lived on the tony Palos Verdes peninsula. But then when she ran for Congress against B-1 Bob Dornan she rediscovered her maiden name. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the district’s changing demographics.

Take state Treasurer Phil Angelides. That’s pronounced An-jell-ee-dez, because he is a Greek guy. He’s spitting mad right now that Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante — a real Latino, who even once belonged to a separatist group — jumped into the recall race. That will ruin Angelides’ plans for his own run for governor if Bustamante wins. Angelides had amassed a war chest for the next regularly scheduled election.

Too bad Angelides wasn’t thinking ahead. He could simply have changed the pronunciation of his last name to An-hail-ee-days. You can even call him Philipo if you want. Voila, or whatever the Spanish equivalent might be, and you’ve got the next possible governor once Bustamante bankrupts the state with his billions of dollars in new spending.

Maybe I’ll even run for something. It doesn’t matter what I stand for. All I need is that Democratic "D" after my name and the word Casaverde on the yard signs. Then again, I live in a Chinese and Korean neighborhood, so maybe I ought to think this through a little more.

As astute readers of my last LRC column pointed out, my hazy Spanish is even hazier than I originally had thought. I used the slogan for Movimieto Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, or MEChA. But I wrote "For La Raza to do. Fuera de La Raza nada," rather than "Por La Raza todo …" This Spanish stuff is harder than I thought. All I know is that in English the saying means, "For the race everything, for those outside the race nothing." And that’s what I intend to give to all of you who are not of my newfound race (really an ethnicity, but who is paying attention?): bupkis, nada, nothing. Especially you stinking Republican racists who supported Prop. 187 and want to keep the brown-skinned man down. Nada por todo. Or the other way around.

This all gets rather complicated, of course. We’ve got this white guy governor who is giving drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants as a way to win support from Latinos. Bill Clinton was the first black president, and Davis wants to be the first modern-era Latino governor. He hopes they vote "no" on the recall. But as one angry activist told National Public Radio, Davis only is pandering. He’s happy the guv signed the law, but the Latino activist still doesn’t like him. I expect he’ll do what many Latinos will do — vote "yes" anyway, then vote for Bustamante.

I hope Mencken gets translated into Spanish. Then those working-class people who vote for a man who promises to raise their income taxes, tax their cigarettes and beer and remove their Prop. 13 property tax protections if they own a small business will get what they deserve good and hard.

I suspect that Davis will actually have Hell to pay for his driver’s license decision, and not just among Anglo voters. (Note to the reader who emailed me saying that I am not an Anglo because I am of Jewish descent: the term is an all-purpose term for non-Hispanic white. By the way, did my photo give me away?)

Many Latinos who came here the legal way are fuming about the driver’s license gambit. A friend of mine, from El Salvador, was fit to be tied, and swore that she will vote for Tom McClintock. Now here’s someone who considers herself an American, who embodies the best ideals in the immigrant experience. It was the most encouraging thing I heard all week. But too many others will simply vote for the main Democratic candidate with the Spanish surname. And they’ll follow Bustamante’s advice — backed by $4 million in questionable contributions from Indian tribes and labor unions — and vote no on Prop. 54. That’s the ballot initiative by University of California Regent Ward Connerly. It would keep the government from collecting racial data on people.

Bustamante wants to stop Prop. 54 because it will make it more difficult to collect racial and ethnic data, which means it will be harder to discriminate against those who are over-represented in society.

You know what that means. It’s too hard to fight against this incessant race- and ethnicity-baiting, too hard to speak out about classical liberal ideals when hordes of newcomers are promised all the benefits they deserve — courtesy of the California and United States taxpayers. And if they gain de facto citizenship without any hassle, how will they learn about the U.S. Constitution, or whatever tiny bits of it might still be left? Then again, I hear those real citizenship classes don’t teach anything much anyway.

Last week, I pushed for a return of California to Mexico, through my new tax-exempt group, Anglos Por Reconquista. But that’s just my longterm plan. I must do something now.

So I’m not fighting it any more. I’m becoming part of La Raza. I’m taking advantage of all the special privileges and welfare benefits the system offers. And now I can do it, legally. Thanks to a "buena" new law that lets anyone get a driver’s license, no matter their legal status. Just call me Seor Casaverde, as the license will say. I wonder, though, whether anyone will accept it as proper ID when I visit Mexico.

Steven Greenhut (send him mail) is a senior editorial writer and columnist for the Orange County Register.

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