Monday, August 15, 2016

Latinos Disappointed Again by the Democrats

Pobrecitos. Latino hopes of having the first Hispanic on a presidential ticket were dashed when Hillary Clinton decided to select the boring, or in media lingo the solid, Tim Kaine as her vice president. To soften the blow, the Hillary campaign emphasized that Senator Kaine speaks fluent Spanish and touted that he is the first Senator in history to deliver a full speech in Spanish on the Senate floor. Making history will have to wait. Having a white man speaking Spanish is the best the Democrats can do for Latinos at the moment.

The Kaine selection is the clearest indication that Hillary believes she has the Latino and progressive vote locked up. A several polls have shown that Trump's support among Hispanic in the teens which is an historic low for a Republican presidential candidate. Given said numbers, no one can blame Hillary for feeling confident and thinking that it was not necessary to include a Latino on her presidential ticket.

If Latino voters are being taken for granted by the Democrats, they have no one to blame but themselves. As I wrote in a piece nearly a year ago:
"In the political sphere, there has been an effort to turn this manufactured Hispanic community into a reliable voting bloc for the Democratic Party much like African-Americans. Even the same tactics are being used as self-appointed leaders choose the policy agenda and decry any deviation as anti-Latino. Hispanics that don't agree with the agenda are viewed as undermining their community. This may help Democrats win elections but it will not serve Latin American immigrants in the long run as one party will take them for granted and the other will ignore them. Just ask African Americans."

Despite all the talk of being champions of Latinos, the Democrats' record is rather bleak. At the presidential level, there has been one Latino candidate by the very Hispanic of William Blaine Richardson, Jr., former governor of New Mexico, whose Latino status comes from his Mexican mother. He dropped out shortly after the New Hampshire primary unable to garner much support among Democrat activists. The GOP, on the other hand, can boast fielding the first Hispanic presidential candidate, Ben Fernandez, in American history. In 2016,  the Republican Party fielded two Latino candidates - Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz - who won several primaries and caucuses. Moreover, Cruz has the distinction of being the runner up. In the Senate, the Democrats have one Latino Senator, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who is being currently prosecuted by the Obama administration while the GOP has two Latino Senators. At the gubernatorial level, Republicans have two Latino governors - Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Susana Martinez of New Mexico - while the Democrats have none. A bleak record indeed.

The Democrats' failure to deliver for Latinos is not limited to electing or promoting Hispanic candidates. They have also failed to deliver on policy such as immigration reform. While running for president in 2008, Obama promised to reform our immigration system during the first year of his administration and was heavily rewarded by Latino voters. Once in office, he spent his first year pushing for healthcare reform and Latinos' policy priorities were relegated to the back burner. Democrats weren't even able to deliver for the DREAMERS - individuals who came into the country illegally as children - even though they had enough Republican support to pass the bill. The DREAM Act was killed by five Democrats voting against cloture.

During Kaine's debut at Florida International University-Miami, as expected, he delivered a few sections of his speech in Spanish. As the general election campaign unfolds, he will probably to be on Spanish language outlets making the case for another Democrat to reach the White House. Whether or not Latino voters settle again for mere words - albeit delivered in Spanish - will be indicative of whether they will follow the footsteps of previous immigrant populations who initially voted as a bloc but eventually became independent voters and gained leverage by having both parties working to advance their individual priorities; or whether they will follow the footsteps of black Americans who - after several decades of loyally supporting Democrats - are still seeing their communities marred by a lack of economic opportunities, failing schools, crime and a biased justice system.