Obama victory is Latino opportunity
It can be said and proven that President Obama and the Democratic Party rode to victory with the support of the Latino vote. What priorities will the Latino community put on the table? The Republican Party which did not court the Latino community needs you to survive. You have a great negotiating position.
For the sake of full disclosure, I am not Latino although I have worked with your communities for close to 30 years as an organizer and a community consultant. I have enormous respect and love for your communities and your cultures.
Of course, many of your concerns are not that different from other low and moderate income communities. The two issues most being talked about are immigration reform and jobs. Education is also a priority of the Obama Administration and a great need in the Latino community.
So, how can you hold the Democrats and the Obama Administration accountable to your needs? First, there needs to be a national conversation in the Latino community around your top priorities. This needs to be initiated by local organizations with the support of national organizations. A national survey should be a part of this to gain political leverage.
You should also have conversations with the Republican Party in order to keep the Democrats honest. Most Latinos live in our cities so one part of your demands should include a real urban agenda. This has not been part of our political landscape since the 1988 Presidential Election. This could include hospitals and health care, safety, environmental justice in our cities, transportation, housing and other city services. Of course. jobs and public education are a part of any urban agenda.
Here is your power Latino community. You are one of the fastest growing constituencies in the country, now 16.7% of the population. You gave President Obama 71% of your vote. The Latino vote went for Obama 80% in Pennsylvania and about the same or a little less in California(over 80%), Ohio, 67%, Colorado, 66% and Florida, 60%. You are in a position to make substantial resource and policy demands to improve your communities.
Another part of your strategy should be about increasing the number of Latino candidates for public office and increasing the number of political appointments at the local, state and national levels.
Seeking common ground in the Latino community will not be easy. Despite the Anglo-American perspective which is often one homogenous population, you are Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Mexicans and from many different countries in Central and South America. You are also diverse in race and class. Can you unite behind important resources and policies for your diverse communities?
This must begin in your neighborhoods for your children and families. A bottom up (grassroots) top down (Latino leaders) meet in the middle strategy will give you the negotiating power to deal and win with the Democrats or the Republicans. The time is now.