Tag Archives: chicanos

Thoughts on Viernes…03292013 ~ 8th Anniv. Edition

There I Go Again…

…questioning my allegiance to any given political party. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as liberal as they come, and a lot more liberal than apologist progressives.  A compelling post in CounterPunch by Professor Emeritus Rodolfo Acuna has me questioning everything about everything. Whether I question the apologist nature of the Democratic Party or the weak negotiating skills of Latino elected and nonprofit leaders, this article seems to have hit a nerve–especially on the weekend in which DosCentavos reaches its eighth year on the internets.

There’s little doubt that very few are paying attention to realities lately (or maybe they aren’t) regarding the great immigration debate. At one point there was no chance of another Bracero program coming to fruition; now, labor and big business are in negotiations over what is acceptable in a guest worker program. What’s worse, Latinos aren’t asking or saying much about it; or worse, not objecting to it. Of course, there’s more that is being ignored in the debate–record deportations, enforcement-heavy ideas, etc.

The question has become so muddled that not even the so-called Latino leadership knows what it wants. Having been invited and having sat at the Democratic Party table as guests of honor, they don’t want to rock the boat –or like my mother used to say quieren quedar bien con todo mundo.

Perhaps Dr. Acuna is correct. So, where does that leave those of us who still want to question everything, yet, really don’t have a place to call our political home? Stuff to ponder as I contemplate the future of DosCentavos.

Those Wetbacks!

Whether said by Gringos (bad Anglos) or newspeople, I hadn’t heard the term “wetback” so much in years! Glad to see Leader Boehner is mad about it. What did he tell Young? “You’re only supposed to say that at the country club, you ninny!!!” Or something like that, I’m sure.

Everytime Republicans try to play nice with Latinos, one of their own screws it up by opening his/her mouth. Most don’t care what they say as they blame it on being products of their time. But this just goes to show that Republicans are trying to attract Latinos using the wrong methods. Talk is cheap (and cheaper as with Young), but policy reaps rewards. I mean, c’mon, Republicans wouldn’t play nice with DREAM Act or CIR, so Obama does an end-run with DACA and Latinos (who vote) see who is actually playing nice–plain as day.

I guess that’s the message for Republicans and Democrats. If you want Latinos to vote for you, then make it about policy, pendejos!

Russ Contreras has his take on his very own blog.

Eight Years

And as I mentioned, DosCentavos is about to turn eight (8) in April. It’s been a hell of a run in so many ways. Readership has gone up and down, as has my political boredom, during the last 8 years. One thing I have found is that my readership goes up when I write about Tejano music and Chicano culture. People are hungry for it, especially as the Dan Patricks of the world go on the offensive with bad laws. Unfortunately, so many “activists” are hungry for attention that they’ll even take a pat on the head from Latino Republicans. The problem is, political parties still don’t seem to get just how to mix both culture and political message. I mean, I know how, but the powers that be are still stuck on appearing to be supportive, rather than just being supportive and understanding. That last one is more important, by the way, and is seldom met.

Anyway, the whole week I’ve been spending thinking about what to do with DosCentavos. Rebrand? Redesign? Re-quit? Like I said, the end result of politics gets boring when turn-out is less than 20%, yet, we continue to say that all politics is local. If that’s the case, then the politicians need to mean it. Or what Dr. Acuna states will be as true as ever.

Without a doubt, the 2012 Presidential Election is a watershed in Chicana/o History. It is a recognition of our numbers not our skill at playing the political game. In my view, in order to survive thegame, we must play it collectively and have clear principles.

I guess I’ll stick to principles and to hell with everyone else?

MUSIC BREAK:  Mexico-Americano, Los Lobos (Live)

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3rd Centavo ~ Acuña: Politics is the Art of Compromise?

by Dr. Rodolfo Acuña

The most overused saying among liberals is that politics is the art of compromise, and it gripes me to no end. Liberals repeat it with such smugness as if they were sages. I find it so pretentious — to the point that I consider it a bunch of toro dung.

It is like saying that politics is the art of the possible, an equally absurd, pretentious and irritating notion. What happened to the impossible dream? Shouldn’t we always strive for something better?

If we have to have a standard wouldn’t a better saying be that politics is the art of principle after all politics is not a game. It involves people, and consequences.

In my own little world, I have seen too many Chicana/o studies programs compromised out of existence with administrators convincing Chicana/o negotiators that it was impossible to give them what they wanted, not enough money. At the same time the president of the institution draws down $300,000 a year, and gets perks such as housing, a per diem, and an automobile. One recently retired university president that I know sits on two corporate boards of directors, and draws down an extra $300,000.

This is academe’s version of one potato two potatoes three potatoes, more.

The game gets ridiculous. Faculties at institutions of higher learning supposedly have shared governance. In fact, every committee is merely advisory to the president who can accept or reject the recommendations.

For the past several years California State University professors have been playing footsies with the administration or better still the chancellor’s office over the budget and pay raises. This is a Catch-22, however. Faculty members also say that they are concerned about the escalating tuition; note that students pay as much as 80 percent of instructional costs. So where is the additional revenue going to come from? Professors love students, but not enough to forgo raises or out of principle go on strike to trim back the number of administrators and the presidents’ salaries.

It really gets ridiculous at times. At Northridge, Chicana/o studies was threatened that if it exceeded its target enrollment that the department would be penalized and its budget cut. Our former chancellor wanted to pressure the state legislature to cough up more money by turning back students. The administration minions at the disparate campuses justified this by repeating the party line that numbers do not count. In fact they laid a guilt trip on us saying that Chicana/o studies professors we were not team players because we were admitting too many students.

As a result, this semester we have a crisis. The institution did not admit enough students; the rationale was if we had fewer students, then we would spend less. But it does not work that way. At state universities even the allocation for paper clips depends on how many students you are taking in. That is why most departments are now being told to beef up their enrollment or lose a portion of their department budget.

Good old compromise got us there as well as the illusion that faculty has power. In fact there were other possibilities. Compromise was not necessarily one of them.

The word compromise is insidious. President Barack Obama has been trying to play Henry Clay and show that he is a great compromiser – forgetting that he is not bargaining for a used car.

President Obama compromised and got his Obama care package. A half a loaf is better than none my Democrat friends repeated, smiled, and nodded. But, according to the New York Times, “Americans continue to spend more on health care than patients anywhere else. In 2009, we spent $7,960 per person, twice as much as France, which is known for providing very good health services.” An appendectomy in Germany costs a quarter of what it costs in the United States; an M.R.I. scan less than a third as much in Canada.

The U.S. devotes far more of its economy to health care than other industrialized countries. It spends two and a half times more than the other countries do for health care; most of it is funneled through giant health corporations. Why do we pay more? Could it be because Obama compromised on the single payer?

I have been to France, Spain and Germany; I can testify that the quality of care is on a par and often better than in the U.S. and the earnings and prestige of doctors is equivalent or better.

Why is this? Could it be that they don’t have giant medical corporations making tremendous profits? Just Blue Cross of California has annual revenue of $9.7 billion. This not for profit corporation made $180 million in excess profits in 2010.

The only conclusion that I can reach is that Obama was suckered into believing compromise was necessary and that politics was the art of the possible instead of sticking to principle.

Let’s be honest for a moment, immigration was put on the back burner until the Democratic party realized that in order to win that Latinos better be invited to the dance.

However, Mexican Americans, Latinos or, whatever we call them, play the same ridiculous game as white people do.

Go to the neighborhoods, ask Central Americans if they are Mexican, and they get insulted. Ask Cuban Americans if they are Mexican, and they get insulted. Many resent the fact or want to ignore that Mexican Americans make up two-thirds to 70 percent of the Latino total.

So, let’s not rock the boat, Mexicans will call any politician with a tenth Mexican blood a Latino and call them compadre. They are happy to be called anything but Mexican.

I don’t know how we are going to get out of this bind when we have to vote for people without principles. Are we going to support a Marco Rubio or a Ted Cruz because they have Spanish surnames, or George Prescott Bush because his mother was Mexican, and forget that he was once called ”the little brown one.”

It gets ridiculous — like that game played in the Huffington Post’s Latino Voices that features articles asking, do you know that this actor or actress has Latino blood? It is as stupid as the game of compromise or the art of the possible.

It reminds me of my grandfather and uncles who worked on the railroad (Southern Pacific) for fifty years who would say that a certain foreman was simpatico, they just knew he liked Mexicans. Why shouldn’t he? Mexican workers bought his lottery tickets and junk jewelry.

Support should be based on principle. I support Central and Latin Americans not because their numbers swell opportunities for politicos, but because they have suffered European and Euro-American colonialism, and come to this country for a better life. They deserve what every other human being should have.

We are not going to get a thing through compromise. Every time I look at John Boehner, Eric Cantor and their buddy in the Senate who reminds me of the bloodhound Trusty in “Lady and the Tramp”; I am reminded that a fair deal is based on integrity. I would not want any of these jokers to come to dinner – not in my house!

Before we start compromising and calling anyone our amigos remember that Boehner called a 2007 bipartisan immigration bill “a piece of shit.” This is what he thinks about us. I use the generic word Latino because I care about my Latin American family – not because I want to be Italian.

Obama is now at a crossroads. He is going to have to make a decision, and that decision does not only encompass immigration and gun control. It is about whether politics is the art of compromise, the art of the possible, or whether it is about principle.

My advice is to tell his three Republican amigos to take a hike and mint the damn trillion dollar coin. It is better to be right and to be respected than to be liked.

Rodolfo Acuña, Ph.D., is an historian, professor emeritus, and one of various scholars of Chicano studies, which he teaches at California State University, Northridge. He is the author of Occupied America: A History of Chicanos. Dr. Acuña writes various opinions on his Facebook page and allows sites to share his thoughts.