Bringing together political science research on Latinos and an analysis of American politics from the vantage point of the Latino political condition, Rodney Hero presents a comprehensive discussion of contemporary Latino politics. The distinct and tenuous nature of Latino status in the U.S. has made it difficult to explain their unique status. This "uniqueness" stems from a variety of circumstances, including the differences among Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans, and their ambivalent racial classification (white but not "Anglo," or nonwhite but not black).
Hero introduces the concept of "two-tiered pluralism," which describes the political situation for Latinos and other minorities in which equality is largely formal or procedural, but not substantive. He observes that this formal but marginalized inclusion exists for minorities in most facets of the political process. In his critical overview of American politics, Hero explores the major theoretical perspectives that have been used to understand Latino "cultural politics"; he contrasts the three largest Hispanic population in this country; and he considers major political activities and American institutions with specific reference to Latinos. This timely work addresses the politics of an increasingly important segment of the U.S. population and an area in which previous research has been scant.