This last week was not a good one regarding Latino support for Joe Biden–at least in online media. An article in Politico shows various activists calling the Biden campaign out for their lack of outreach, or lack of a game plan to excite the Latino electorate. Even the LA Times had something on Latinos and Biden.
Joe Biden won the primary in spite of, not because of, his efforts to turn out Latinos. Two months later, Hispanic leaders are waiting on his campaign to deliver on its promises to do more.
In interviews, more than 20 Latino political operatives, lawmakers, and activists said they don’t see a game plan from Biden to marshal Hispanic voters effectively in the fall. They said there’s little evidence the campaign is devoting the resources or hiring the staff that task will require — all the more crucial during a pandemic, when reaching and mobilizing Latino voters through in-person canvassing is nearly impossible.
Throughout the Primary season, the Latino political players were backing one of the many in the running. Personally, I began with Julian Castro before jumping back on the Bernie wagon. The players, though, were mostly “anyone but Bernie” even settling on Biden because he wasn’t Bernie.
Anyway, Latino Democratic voters, those with whom the DNC, DCCC, and DSCC are usually out of touch and disconnected, were supporting Bernie in many states. So obvious was this support for Bernie that Biden didn’t even campaign for the Latino vote during the Primary. I mean, if there was a time that Democrats were hoping for low Latino turnout, it seems like it was during this last Primary. It’s not that we Berniestas only like Tio Bernie because he exists, it was that he took the issues that we poll strongest on seriously: Education, Jobs, Health Care, and immigration and deportation reform. Biden defending the Obama deportation record didn’t help his Primary cause among Latinos who actually pay attention. Of course, he now calls 3,000,000 deportations a “big mistake.” Good move.
Well, we know the result. Joe Biden wins and deals are made to ensure representation of Bernie supporters at the National Convention and on Biden’s campaign. The policy of appeasement was definitely in play so the whole unity thing can be sold to all involved. As an avid voter, I’m fine with those efforts, as long as the rank-and-file stop insulting Bernie supporters over 2016 (still!). But statistics show Latinos are not avid voters and need to be reached out to because they can see right through the bullshit in politics. To the point where half of us stay home during a presidential year.
Of course, a good look at the recently released list of issues advisors to Biden shows most brown people are on the immigration plank, and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez as the only brown face on the climate panel. Otherwise, it’s slim pickings, if any at all, when it comes to Latinos. Even I know at least one brown person capable of being on each issues group, so, why aren’t they on these lists?
Again, Biden has made efforts to appease the Latino electorate regarding immigration and economic issues, but if these articles about engagement and outreach are already coming out, then something needs to change. And perhaps it is.
I will add that this week’s appointment of Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Cesar’s granddaughter, is a nice gesture. But when the campaign states in the next paragraph that their targets include Florida, all I see coming are a repeat of 2016’s bad and ineffective radio ads comparing Trump to a dead Venezuelan President whose domestic policies were closer to what is in the Democratic platform. It’s no different than the red-baiting of Bernie Sanders during the Primary in Florida because he gave an honest summing up of the Cuban Revolution. It might get you a few votes in Florida, but the rest of Latinodom in the US is going to see right through it, thus, making outreach ineffective. In other words, you better do better than Florida if we want to win state houses and local races across the country.
When the Castro Brothers can be counted among those of us who aren’t excited about Joe Biden, well, that says a lot. I expect a lot of Demsplaining and whitesplaining about this, but maybe the Party should be listening. For a change. Even after the popular brown folk in the Party fall in line.
The pandemic obviously has hurt all campaigns. But it seems that even with the profiteering and willful misconduct occurring at the White House and in republican-led state governments, Democrats and Biden aren’t hitting back as hard as they should. Locally-elected Dems are struggling in these situations and we need a national voice to hit back.
I think voters, Latinos especially, would feel the warm and fuzzies a lot more if our champion actually championed. No, we’re not expecting him to run unmasked into a rally of thousands to cheerlead in the midst (or mist) of a COVID19 cloud. But talk to us. And tell the world what Biden wants to do that is different than what the current orange trainwreck offers America. Simply pointing out what Trump is doing wrong or badly will just be a repeat of 2016–a free ad for Trump. Voters need to hear solutions to the problems Trump has caused. Voters need hope. I know I do!
The results of this pandemic are telling us that Latinos are taking a huge hit–healthwise (COVID19-wise) and economically. Latinos have lost more jobs and the number of uninsured continues to rise in the Latino community (20%). And these numbers don’t even consider the undocumented community, which has its own challenges (made worse by Trump). It’s hard to get someone excited about voting when someone you know or to whom you are related is affected in one way or another by the pandemic and the options are Trump or Not Trump. Again, I’m not talking about voters like me, but the other half who get disinterested really fast.
For some of us, getting rid of Trump may be enough, but a lot more effort is needed to ensure this happens in a big way and that means talking solutions. I’m pretty sure Latinos want to support the Biden way of getting things done. And I guess we just want to hear more about what he wants to get done. Or, Biden could name a Latina, like Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham as the VP nominee and he’d be golden.
Naming Amy Klobuchar, though, would be quite underwhelming.