Latinos and Presidential Elections 2016
Dr. Maria Teresa Montilla
Printable copy: latinos-and-presidential-elections-2016
It matters not which party Latinos vote for Tuesday…
November 5, 2016.— Hillary Clinton made history becoming the first woman to win a major party’s nomination; and is poised to make history, as she will likely become the first woman president of the United States. These victories are celebrated as breakthroughs for women and fair political representation. Presidential Election 2016 is also historic on three other fronts:
1.The two-party system’s erosion taking place for the past several decades, came to a boil with the emergence of ‘anti-establishment’ candidates from both parties. The rise of Senator Ernie Sanders and Mr. Donald Trump during the primaries; as well as the overwhelming number of unaffiliated voters (more than the sum of all party affiliated nationally), were messages from the electorate that ‘politics as usual’ was to be no more. Clinton and Trump, in fact, represent all that is wrong with the system: too entrenched to be effective representative of the people; too focused on party perpetuity to care about people; and growing increasingly anti-democratic.
2. While clearly representing the principles and philosophy of their parties in their platforms, both presidential candidates share the distinction of being the most rejected by their own parties, in presidential history. Undoubtedly, because the electorate sees them as the deeply flawed, troubling skewed, and frighteningly dangerous individuals they are. The campaign has giving a too much insight into who they are (character, integrity, transparency, morally corrupt and ethically challenged). Time magazine captured on this week’s cover, the effect of the campaign on the electorate (http://time.com).
3. As both parties unraveled and played in public their ‘family dysfunction’ (the fringe right found an official voice, and democrats expressed their disapproval of the party establishment), Latinos, who were thrusted (by Trump) into center stage of the presidential campaign at the outset; became an integral piece of all political fodder, as the coveted swing vote in this election. The parties have invested an unprecedented amount of money, talent and work into courting the Latino vote, rightfully so, as Latinos will decide this election.
While a Clinton victory would be historic and considering that diversity within government positions has improved, much more is still needed before the U.S. government is truly representative of the people.
Women, people of color, those who aren’t affiliated with a religion, or with a major political party, continue to be severely underrepresented in presidential politics, as well as in Congress, governorships, state legislatures, and in bodies of government that make crucial decisions impacting their lives every day.
Vote, we must! Beyond the frailties of both presidential candidates, Latinos are to look at how the parties these candidates represent will affect issues of concern, should they win: Supreme Court (abortion, gay marriage, voter protection laws), economic development, education, women’s rights, civil rights, trade, foreign relations, national security, and immigration reform.
In this presidential election, it matters not, which party Latinos vote for; what matters is that on Tuesday, November 8th, we have turned out to be a voting force to reckon with for years to come.