Sunday, September 30, 2012

Op-Ed: One mom’s hope to get Latino youth involved in the voting process

Every month 50,000 young Latinos turn 18 and can get involved in the voting process.

Every month 50,000 young Latinos turn 18 and can get involved in the voting process.

Are today’s youth truly disengaged from the voting process? In light of statistics showing that one-third of all youth eligible to vote in 2012 will have turned 18 since November 2008, and that every month for the next two decades, 50,000 Latinos will turn 18, this question needs to be addressed.  While my own experience tells me otherwise, and numbers during the last election actually increased (i.e. 39 percent of 18 to 24 year old Latinos voted in the 2008 election), there’s still a broad consensus that young people, particularly Latinos, aren’t interested in politics.
I had the chance to discuss this very question with some of the participants of a voting drive I organized this past week in Baltimore, MD. One of the outcomes from the conversation was how we all felt that, more often than not, today’s youth have no idea about how voting affects their lives directly. Being the mom of a teen who’s soon to be 18 – and who, by the way, is really bothered by the fact that she won’t be able to vote this year – this got me thinking:  With youth being so well connected these days, how can they seem so disconnected from civic participation? I discussed this at length with Dana Vickers Shelleya voter registration volunteer certified by the Maryland Board of Elections (and co-organizer of the voting drive).
Dana, a woman whose impressive resume includes being the former Senior Communications Appointee during the Clinton Administration, has been helping citizens register to vote since 2004. She is convinced that “young people are involved now, it’s just in a different way than they have been in the past. I think they are excited for our future and how they can contribute to our country’s success. But even with that, I don’t know how many young people have decided or even see how voting connects to it all.”
Even in a household like mine, where political discussions have become the tasty complement to many a family dinner, I’ve noticed this to be the case. While my daughter understands the importance of voting and goes out of her way to encourage her friends who can vote into doing it, she doesn’t always make the connection of the act of voting to her own daily life.
Open discussion of issues at home fueled Soledad Nuñez’s interest in civic work. This 19-year-old college student and activist recently co-founded — along with Lupe Pasillas — a non-partisan youth group called Latinos United for Voting (L.U.V.), after noticing the disinterest of her peers in the upcoming elections.  For her, part of the disconnect comes from the fact that “politics and history have always been geared to older people, so the youth don’t see it as something fun and they don’t make the connection as to how it can affect them.”
While she doesn’t necessarily believe that all youth are disconnected, the experience with her own group has taught her that outreach is stronger when it is put into the context of young people’s lives. “Whether it’s talking about health and reproductive services, undocumented student’s rights, or how much funding your school gets, there are so many things that affect us. It’s not just about listening to music or watching MTV.”
Vickers-Shelly agrees. “It’s important to talk to youth about registering and vote[ing], not just in November when everyone is thinking about it. And it’s also important to discuss what schools used to call civics. Whether it is the ‘no texting while driving’ laws, laws related to student loans, opportunities for college graduates or even health care and the Affordable Care Act, one must make it a point to discuss those things that definitely mean something different to them,” she says.
In the end, I believe everyone’s hope is that the up-and-coming generation turns out to be one of discerning, responsible, independent thinkers who can analyze the world’s situation and know they have the power to exert change. Our youth, Latinos or not, may not trust politicians, may be disenchanted with the process, but could it be that all they need is a little change of perspective?
We all have young people around us whom we can influence to varying degrees. As you go about your day, maybe you can strike up a spontaneous civic conversation with a neighborhood kid. Maybe you can encourage your kid to run for class president, or help you run a neighborhood park clean-up, go with you to your charity or volunteering activities, or go to your voting place. Maybe you introduce them to a civic-minded group, like the one Soledad is running. Or maybe, like me, you can start serving your meals with a nice side dish of news commentary. The point is to make them understand that politics is not about politicians: it’s about taking ownership of our very own, everyday life.
Elianne Ramos is Principal/CEO of Speak Hispanic Marketing and Vice-Chair, Marketing and PR for Latinos in Social Media (LATISM). Under LATISM, she is also Chief Editor of the LATISM blog, and hostess to weekly Twitter chats reaching over 18.8 million impressions. Follow her on Twitter @ergeekgoddess.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Opinion: Repressive voter ID laws are the best recourse for Republicans

Voters show identification as they sign in to vote during the Republican primary election April 24, 2012 at Bodine High School in Philadelphia. Turnout is expected to be low as Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney continues his campaign as the presumptive GOP candidate. (Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)
Voters show identification as they sign in to vote during the Republican primary election April 24, 2012 at Bodine High School in Philadelphia. Turnout is expected to be low as Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney continues his campaign as the presumptive GOP candidate. (Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images)

Opinion: Repressive voter ID laws are the best recourse for Republicans

It’s difficult to believe that those who are in favor of strict voter ID laws do not know that illegal voter impersonation is very rare. It makes zero sense to falsely impersonate another voter, breaking federal election laws in the process, and illegally cast a single vote that has virtually no chance of changing the outcome of the election. Not to mention that where fraud is more likely to be committed, through mail-in ballots, no voter ID is required. A simple signature is all that is needed.
This Palinesque logic, however, misses the point. We know that the lower-income demographic and minorities are less likely to have a valid form of voter identification, and upwards of twenty-one million eligible citizens may be affected by voter ID laws. We also know that in the last five years, of the millions of votes cast there were only several dozen cases filed with the Justice Department related to voter fraud.
But the point of voter ID laws is not only to erect barriers to participation for those most likely to vote against the GOP, but mostly the point is: What else are Republicans to do?
They could do the sensible thing one might expect out of a political party and try to convince Latinos that the GOP understands their problems, admires their entrepreneurial spirit, and has a vision that can help them achieve the American Dream. Or they can do what they are currently doing, catering to white anxiety over the changing demographic landscape. One is noble, democratic, and unifying. The other, not so much.
The GOP will need to transition into some kind of expansion mode sooner or later, but unlike Romney’s impressive stock portfolio, his party is over leveraged and lacks any diversity. This may have been fine in the good ol’ Southern Strategy days, where the black population had largely plateaued, but the game is different with Latinos. Ironically, Reagan knew this. George H.W. Bush knew this. Decades ago.
But here we are. Over 90 percent of the voters in the GOP primary were white. One might think that Romney would move to the center for the general election, but his advisers think his best shot is to go long, to double down on the tactic of offending minorities. This is what the voter ID debate is about. Sure, it will more than likely disenfranchise large swaths of Americans, but this is the 47 percent. The moochers.
It is like cat nip for Romney voters, to bathe in ones heightened self-image of oneself while righteously casting moral contempt on “those people.”
It was thought that the state of the economy would give Mitt Romney an advantage against President Obama, with unemployment levels at 8.1 percent. But while that may be the unemployment rate for all Americans, Mitt Romney’s Americans have a much lower unemployment rate. The latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor statistics shows thatunemployment among whites is at 7.2 percent and among white men over twenty years old its even lower, at 6.8 percent.
That’s not bad when compared to black folks, who are facing 14.1 percent unemployment and Hispanics who are facing 10.2 percent unemployment. With numbers like those, the GOP might have a decent shot at the presidency by convincing minorities to vote for new leadership, if there was an inkling of trust among minorities of the GOP. But there’s not, so the GOP is stuck with a homogenous demographic that is doing relatively well on the economic front.
So how does one excite such a group into action? Well, 6.8 percent unemployment may not be bad, but it’s not great. Perhaps these folks didn’t get that raise this year. Maybe they had to stay with their current job because nobody else is hiring. They’re not quite falling down, yet. In other words, these people are not quite there and the only thing holding them back is, you guessed it, all those moocher 47 percenters who by the way want to steal the next election with all their illegal voter reconquista cousins. Better get out and vote.
This is where the GOP lies today. This is their best shot. They built this.
Stephen A. Nuño, Ph.D., NBC Latino contributor and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University. He is currently writing a book on Republican outreach into the Latino Community.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Please, newsmakers, he doesn't need this strain

This is a great piece written by Los Angeles staff writer Steve Lopez:

LA Times article (CLICK HERE)

Columnist finds it's tough to keep his blood pressure under control when he reads about Bell's ex-police chief, lifeguard firings in El Monte, the mayor's reaction to the AEG sale — and bad sidewalks.

 L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he knew AEG was up for sale, but kept the information to himself. (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles Times / September 19, 2012)

Having been told by healthcare professionals to take it easy after recent medical challenges, is it safe for me to continue following the local news?

It's not easy to keep your blood pressure under control while reading that former Bell Police Chief Randy Adams is demanding a pension of $510,000 a year, after the notorious scoundrels in that scandal-plagued town paid him the astronomical salary of $457,000 a year. I began twitching when I saw that Adams invoked the 5th Amendment 20 times in a state pension panel hearing, refusing to confirm that he'd sent an email to a Bell official saying he looked forward to "taking all of Bell's money."

And, like I say, other developing stories brought no relief. I nearly ripped open the stitches in my new knee when I slapped myself while reading about the blockhead festival in El Monte, where city officials fired some part-time lifeguards for making a funny, clever, innocent music video parody while on break at the aquatic center.

"To me it seems like a knee-jerk reaction," said lifeguard Michael Roa, a University of La Verne student who's going for his master's in marital and family therapy. Roa told me he regrets what he did, though, because of the blowback for his hometown, and because lifeguards who weren't as involved in the video also lost their jobs.

As the week wore on, and it became clear that virtually everyone in the world except El Monte City Council members realized the firings were ridiculously out of line, the clueless council decided to call for an independent investigation, even as the city began using cashiers to take over for the lifeguards.
My question is this: If the cashiers are that versatile, can they also take over for the council members?

But my questions aren't always answered, and a case in point involves Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. He told us, midweek, that he'd been aware of the fact that AEG — owner of the Staples Center and L.A. Live, and the backer of a bid to build a stadium and bring an NFL team to Los Angeles — was up for sale.

But he didn't tell anyone. Not the City Council, not the city official negotiating the deal with AEG, and not the public.

Villaraigosa also refused to say how long he knew, and when prodded at a news conference, he got crabby.
"I'm the mayor. I knew," he said.
Pressed again, he turned into a parrot.
"I'm the mayor and I knew," he said.
Can we hear it once more?
"Let me be clear about something: I'm the mayor and I knew."

Well, I'm a columnist, and here's what I know.
Villaraigosa has some good qualities, but I wouldn't put judgment and leadership near the top of the list. So it would have been nice for him to share what he knew with public officials who have spent a year ironing out a stadium deal with a company that's suddenly ready to bail.
Did AEG fear that it wouldn't be able to pay back the millions fronted by the city, and if so, might the new owner have the same concern? Villaraigosa actually said the reason for the sale was irrelevant to him. If it were me, it would have been the first question I asked.

We've been told for months that we're going into business with people we know at AEG, with minimal risk. And now we're told don't worry, we don't know who the new owners will be, but they'll have to abide by the terms of the same deal.

There's a chance, of course, that it will all work out just fine. My phone lines were buzzing last week with reports that billionaire L.A. physician Patrick Soon-Shiong was talking to all the key players in considering a bid for AEG. Actually it makes sense to have a doctor own a franchise in a league that's become a concussion derby, with more than 3,000 former NFL players suing over lasting damage from head injuries.

But it would be nice if we could hear from Mr. Soon-Shiong or any other prospective bidders before the mayor waves his pom-poms one more time and the City Council rubber stamps a go-ahead on a stadium deal, with a vote scheduled for this week. Let's find out whether they can reassure us that there's a profitable and environmentally sensible way to run a combination football stadium/convention center in the middle of one of the city's more traffic-choked sectors. Let's hear them explain what they think the risks and benefits are to taxpayers, and whether they're interested in a long-term commitment to the city or a quick vanity acquisition.

I sent a couple of questions about all of this to the mayor, but as I mentioned, I got no answers. You'd think he'd be a little more considerate, given all the work I've done in identifying some of the most badly damaged sidewalks among the 5,000 miles of bad pavement in Los Angeles, which gets hundreds of trip-and-fall lawsuits every year. And readers by the dozens keep sending me reports, complete with photos.

In my last sidewalk column, by the way, I offered the mayoral candidates a chance to let me know what they'd do about this mess, much of which is caused by trees the city doesn't bother taking care of. All I can figure is that council members Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry, Controller Wendy Greuel and attorney Kevin James have no answers, because I haven't heard so much as a word from any of them so far.
Do they know I've got palpitations?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

You NEED to VOTE!!

Here are some great statistics of excuses for those who DO NOT vote....execise your RIGHT as AMERICANS!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Los Angeles Councilwoman Jan Perry Honors Latina Entrepreneurs at the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Convention

Photo: Honored to join Javier Palomarez, President and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) today at their 33rd Annual National Convention that is currently taking place in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Councilwoman Jan Perry presents USHCC CEO/President Javier Palomares with proclamation at the "Ultimate Latina Luncheon"

According to the U.S. Census, the fast growing segment in America in start up businesses are Latinas!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Opinion: Education is a non-issue in this election

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) slaps hands with a boy after speaking at a campaign event September 13, 2012 in Golden, Colorado. Obama has made several campaign stops in Colorado, which is a hotly contested state in this year's election.  (Chris Schneider/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) slaps hands with a boy after speaking at a campaign event September 13, 2012 in Golden, Colorado. Obama has made several campaign stops in Colorado, which is a hotly contested state in this year’s election. (Chris Schneider/Getty Images)

Opinion: Education is a non-issue in this election

I cannot help but wonder what happened to all the rhetoric about education being first and foremost on the top of the American agenda? With all this mud-slinging from both parties during this Presidential election campaign, I have seen no real national discussion on the topic of education, at any level, especially during these last few weeks in which we as Americans prepare to vote for the next President of our country.

We have recently seen the teachers in Chicago strike for the first time in 25 years because union contract negotiations stalled. The United States of America, being the industrial superpower that we are (well tell that to China and India), is today struggling to keep our children highly educated, let alone graduating from high school. So what happened to our American society and its support of investing in education and in our children? Why are our children’s issues taking a back seat?

It really is simple: kids just don’t vote! Especially in a closely contested Presidential race like this one, the campaign strategists are looking at key voting blocks like swing voters, and trying to court them like sirens in the night. This is why healthcare and Medicare are such big buzzwords in this Presidential election because simply put senior citizens always vote, thus becoming a very powerful voting group.

According to the U.S. Census, more than one-third of the U.S. Latinos are 18 years old or younger and half are under the age of 26; two-thirds of U.S. Latinos are of Mexican decent; Over 80 percent of Latino youth are U.S. born; A majority of U.S. Latino students report English as their primary language; over half of Latino teens live in California or Texas; AND two-thirds of Latino youth live in two-parent families.

So why are all these “Latino” facts so important? Because our Latino youth population is not only the country’s largest population segment, but extremely influential in their own Latino households.  I remember growing up  our family always had dinner together. We watched Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salina Univision’s nightly news religiously.  I know for a fact my younger brother and I were able to influence or at a minimum put a bug in our parents’ heads about the topic of the day. This is true for a majority of Latino households. This ladies and gentlemen is influence, power and votes!

Mr. President and Governor Romney…. I think it’s time you listen not only to our American youth, but also to the sleeping giant that is now fully awake.

Jaime Rojas Jr. worked for The White House’s Office of Public Liaison and Latino outreach for President Bill Clinton, and for The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. He is also the former President and CEO of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce (CHCC) and he wrote his first book in 2011 titled, “The Conservative’s Pocket Constitution.” Follow Jaime on Twitter @Jaime_Rojas

Opinion: As an LGBT Latina, the DNC’s diversity tells me I’m home

Mary Gonzalez, an LGBTQ Latina elected in Texas is inspired by the diversity on display at the Democratic National Convention.
Mary Gonzalez, an LGBTQ Latina elected in Texas is inspired by the diversity on display at the Democratic National Convention. (Courtesy Mary Gonzalez) 

by Rep. Mary Gonzalez
I don’t tell many people this — but during the Bush vs. Gore 2000 election I was supporting George W. Bush.  As a Junior in High School, I remember conversations with my debate coach, where I would repeat the dinner conversations I had with my conservative, Republican father on why my family supported G.W.
Then college happened and as I was sitting in my Mexican- American Studies classes and becoming actively involved in Latina/o organizations, my consciousness grew and I began a process of transformation both personally and politically.  I began to connect the dots between the political process and social justice and recognized the importance of building coalitions and creating inclusive spaces.  Naturally, all this change and conscienza meant that by the 2004 election I was supporting John Kerry (Democrat) against George W. Bush.

In my process to change the world, I have fallen in love with the Democratic Party.  My admiration and respect for the party stems from the courage of its leaders to fight for what is right and not for what is easy.  To stand up in the face of injustice, and to move beyond “band-aid” solutions to solutions that make a long-term impact in society.
RELATED: Julian Castro, Michelle Obama, fire up convention floor, urge Obama’s re-election
Spending the last week at the Democratic National Convention, I am reminded of this love.  As someone who identifies with multiple marginalized communities (Latina/Chicana, LGBTQ, Young Adult, Woman) there are not many spaces that embrace ALL of me and the diversity that encompasses who I am.  And even though I was far away from my border town home of El Paso, Texas, standing with delegates from all over the country, the convention arena was transformed into a space that felt like home.  And even though we were all different ages, from different places with different backgrounds and different identities it felt like familia.

Beyond just being surrounded by diversity, it was empowering to hear about the different backgrounds of all the speakers at the convention.  The feelings of inclusion and respect that I have felt as a member of the Democratic Party, were now realities on the stage and the speakers were more than just “token” speakers they were symbolic representations of the coalition that makes up the Democratic Party.  It was inspiring to hear my role models Mayor Julian Castro and Representative Joaquin Castro, not only address issues of immigration but also talk about marriage equality and be allies to multiple communities that are not their own. On top of that, 8 percent of the delegates at the DNC were LGBTQ, the first time a major party has ever welcomed the community in such a way.

This week, I was reminded why the Democratic Party changed my life.  Because in a country that is still struggling to recognize and support diversity, the Democratic Party shows how it can be done.  I understand that there are still areas for growth when it comes to social justice in the party, however it gives me hope that as a community we are open to this development and always attempting to be better.
To my fellow Democratic family members, thank you for providing a space that supports and recognizes ALL of my identities and fights for justice for ALL of me and not just parts of me.
RELATED: Mary Gonzalez, first Gay Latina in Texas state house comes out as pansexual
Mary Gonzalez, was elected to represent House District 75 in El Paso, Texas, where she represents an 89 percent Latino district. She is the first gay Latina to be elected to the Texas state House and is pursuing her doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

OPINION: At Chicago's teacher strike no one is thinking about the children

NBC Latino link (Click Here)

Student Edgar Guerra, 10, watches Chicago Public School teachers picket outside Maranatha Church in Chicago where Mayor Rahm Emanuel was visiting students that were taking part at the Safe Haven program Monday, Sept. 10, 2012. The church was providing students with structured activities and a safe environment during the teachers strike.  (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Opinion: At Chicago’s teacher strike no one is thinking about the children

When school children start paying union dues, then perhaps they can expect unions to represent their interests. And as the Chicago Teachers Union goes on strike in perhaps one of the most union-friendly states in the country, one has to wonder what the CTU is thinking. It’s certainly not the children.
Almost one in four children in K-12 education in the United States is Latino, as well as one in six students in higher education. In some states, like Texas, more than 40 percent of Latinos are underage and will rely heavily on a quality education for greater opportunities in their futures. Since Latinos will be the engine of population growth in the country as a whole for at least the next two generations, we should be concerned about the impact unions have on the quality of education.
And before union cheerleaders start posting links to school rankings by states who are union friendly, its important to note that not all unions are created equal. Not surprisingly, unions in minority districts may be less equal than those in white districts.
Perhaps this is a function of bureaucratic response to academic needs that arise from social issues endemic in low-income communities. More problems means more programs to deal with them, and more programs requires more administrators, which may mean less money spent on books and instruction.
Perhaps, there is more inertia in larger bureaucracies in responding to problems that would otherwise be addressed by smaller districts with more flexibility than is characteristic of mega-districts in New York and Los Angeles.
There is no doubt that school districts are hobbled by their past commitments in retirement benefits. In yet another example of our baby-boomer generation pulling up the ladder behind them on their way out, Latinos will need to manage their education in an environment where older Americans no longer prioritize the value of an education.
And as Latinos look to the Democrats for help, all too often there is none, because union power is so firmly entrenched in the party. This year, three bills in California that would make it less cumbersome to fire teachers who sexually abuse their students were defeated by Democrats. Ironically, one of the sponsors was Alex Padilla, a Latino Democrat who went to school in a district where sexual abuse by a teacher was being protected by the unions. Yet he was alone, who along with Republicans could not get the bills out of committee.
But unions have also become a convenient punching bag for pushing an agenda against investment in education, and for promoting free-market solutions, such as charter schools, that are supposed to save money while improving student achievement.
Yet, so far there is no evidence that charter schools are superior to a public education. There is evidence, however, that charter schools are re-segregating minorities, while reallocating funds away from public education. And this may ultimately be the impetus for the charter school argument within the GOP.
This leaves Latinos who live in urban settings with a decision between public school systems dominated by unions whose first priority is protecting the jobs of their members, and a charter school system whose purported fruits are designed to be out of their reach.
Similar to unions, those pushing charter schools are not prioritizing children, but an ideology committed to a system where their constituents happen to make out with the lions share of the public coffers.
On Thomas Jefferson’s gravestone is inscribed what he thought were his two greatest achievements, his role in authoring the Declaration of Independence and his founding of the University of Virginia. Given his many accomplishments, it’s telling that one of our greatest intellectuals thought so highly of public education.
Public unions may not be the answer to a better education, but true conservatives in the American tradition would also be hesitant to put the soul of a democratic country in the hands of merchants.
There are no easy answers, but unions are making it easier for us to look elsewhere for solutions, and that is a shame.
Stephen A. Nuño, Ph.D., NBC Latino contributor and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University. He is currently writing a book on Republican outreach into the Latino Community.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Opinion: Republicans are grooming Latino leaders, Dems are not

Here is my debut as a contributing writer for NBC Latino!! Thank you for the opportunity.....

Opinion: Republicans Are Grooming Latino Leaders, Dems Are Not. (CLICK HERE)

Senate candidate Ted Cruz of Texas addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Opinion: Republicans are grooming Latino leaders, Dems are not

We saw this week the Democratic National Convention and its sea of diversity among its delegates on the Convention floor, a very stark contrast to the Republican National Convention faces we saw on television the week before. But behind the scenes, I see a very different picture regarding the grooming of Latino leadership for the future of American politics.

The Democrats paint a party of the “people” who represents the last frontier to protect what’s left of the American middle class. At the DNC, they showcased their Latino leadership. We saw my mayor, Antonio Villariagosa, prominently displayed as the chairman of the Convention. Julian Castro, the mayor of San Antonio, is billed as the rising Latino star in the Democratic Party.

The RNC, on the other hand, spotlighted their chosen ones too: Congressman Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and Governor Susanna Martinez of New Mexico. So we ask: “Which political party is really grooming our future Latino leadership?” My short answer is….the Republican party. Here is why: The Democrats, with all their fanfare of diversity, really has no real infrastructure on a national or state level focused on grooming Latino leadership. Since Latinos just happen to make a large number in their party, really by default they have taken some leadership roles. And if you think about it, Democratic Latinos are not really in too many high level positions like governors or senior ranking congresspersons, considering the number of Latinos in the party.

The reason is simple. The Democratic Party has a “union” mentality when it comes to grooming its next leadership. You have to start practically at birth as a member of the Party and promote your way up the ladder, until it’s your time to eventually lead. Being from California, that process and mentality is obvious with the State Democrats and the union machine. So what real chance does a young Latino have of high level leadership in the Democratic Party, if they don’t follow this “promotional” leadership process…none.

The Republicans surprisingly enough, invested last year, on the national level into a fund specifically to identify and groom 100 top Latino leaders for the Party. Impressive? Well, the fund only started with less than 2 million dollars, which in today’s economy is not much, but it’s a start. For the first time we heard not just one but two Latinos, Congressman Marco Rubio and Governor Susanna Martinez on the short list for Vice President! We recently saw Congressman Ted Cruz come in and shock everyone with his win in Texas. He had some support (money) of the RNC too.

I believe the Republican party has the better chance of grooming and possibly delivering Latino political leaders that actually will not only look like us, but also represent us appropriately. Believe it or not, Latinos’ beliefs are very similar to those of the GOP: family, fiscal conservancy, small government, and support of entrepreneurship and business. Yes, I know, shocking but very true. With our potential voting power, Latinos can vote into office (or take out of office) the right candidate to represent and act on our legislative needs. What is good for Latinos is good for America…and what is good for America is good for Latinos!

The Latino community must continue investing in ourselves and believe that our time is here now. We must support leadership-training beginning with our youth, and support national organizations like the National Hispanic Institute, based out of Texas, who go after our cream of the crop of Latino youth and train them to think like leaders and entrepreneurs. At the end of the day, it is our responsibility, no one else’s, to train, groom and support America’s future leadership! Let’s all take this call for action….it is really the American thing to do, no que no?

Jaime Rojas Jr. worked for The White House’s Office of Public Liaison and Latino outreach for President Bill Clinton, and for The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. He is also the former President and CEO of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce (CHCC) and he wrote his first book in 2011 titled, “The Conservative’s Pocket Constitution.” Follow Jaime on Twitter @Jaime_Rojas

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Jimmy Fallon and his Julian Castro Impersonation

If Jimmy Fallon is impersonating know that Latinos are now mainstream!! Check out his rendition of Julian Castro's speech at the Democratic National Convention this week.

Jimmy Fallon's impersonation of Julian Castro (CLICK HERE)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Message to BOTH the Democrats & Republicans!

A few posts ago I posted the open letter from Jorge Ramos, Univision's anchor, to the Republicans. Many thought he was going easy on the GOP, but I thought it was definitely in the right direction. Below is a piece from "Latino Rebels" in response to an open letter from Jorge Ramos again, but now to the I know why (again) I am a huge fan.

Read this and you will understand my political viewpoints as well. Both parties, Republicans and Democrats, have not stepped it up in really trying to get the Latino vote. You will see in this article what I really mean...enjoy!

Latino Rebels' article (CLICK HERE)

What My Friends Are Saying About Jorge Ramos’ Open Letter to the Democrats

Last week, I shared a post that included what my friends were saying about an open letter Univision's Jorge Ramos wrote to the Republican Party. I wrote that post because in the end, no matter what you think about Ramos, he is still the most popular and well-known Spanish-language news anchor in the United States. To me, it was the equivalent of a Brian Williams writing a similar letter. The responses I received were very passionate, to say the least, but one thing was clear: I have smart friends. Any of them could easily grace a Sunday news roundtable and discuss issues with grace, intelligence, and professionalism.
This past weekend Ramos followed up on his promised to write an open letter to the Democrats. The full letter can be seen here on his personal site. Titled, "NO LOVE LOST," Ramos offers his take on how the Democrat Party has its own issues with U.S. Latino voters. Here is just a sampling of what he wrote:
The relationship between our community and the Democratic Party is like that of an old married couple who have been together for so many decades that the enthusiasm that once made the relationship interesting is long gone. As comfortable as we have become with each other, keep in mind that love can be unpredictable. Have you forgotten the presidential election of 2004, when Republican President George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote?
During Obama’s first three years in office, political conditions in the United States started to become favorable for a similar upset. As a candidate running for the presidency in 2008, Obama had promised to submit to Congress a proposal for immigration reform within his first year, but then he failed to do so. And Democratic lawmakers did not show any urgency in moving forward with fulfilling Obama’s promise—not even when the party control
led both chambers of Congress in 2009 and 2010. That should have been a priority. Instead, undocumented immigrants living in the shadows were left without hope. The current administration has deported more than 1.2 million immigrants, more than any other in U.S. history. And despite the White House’s policy of prioritizing for deportation those undocumented immigrants who break the law, many thousands who have been deported do not have a criminal history. The president is likely responsible for having split up many Hispanic families with children who have American citizenship.
After saying that the Republicans essentially lost a golden opportunity to capitalize on many U.S. Latinos' disappointment and frustration with President Obama, Ramos closes his letter with the following:
But that’s not enough to keep us together. So why don’t we just concede that ours is a love that has conditions attached?
The strength of our relationship is based on Democrats’ history of standing with the Hispanic community in matters that involve discrimination—recently by challenging anti-immigrant laws and launching a federal investigation into Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s policies. Democrats share our community’s concerns about expanding educational opportunities and increasing access to health care. Also, though it hardly counts as immigration reform, Obama’s courageous decision to halt the deportations of almost 2 million undocumented students is proof that he is sensitive to an issue that is important to us.
So let’s make a deal: In exchange for Hispanic votes, we want you to stop taking us for granted.
Do not assume that we will always cast our ballots in your favor.
Do not assume that we’ll happily vote for you after a few Democrats speak Spanish during your upcoming convention in North Carolina.
Do not assume that boisterous campaign promises are all that’s needed to keep us together. Promises are no longer enough.
We want to be part of the process, and we want to be heard. We want to be part of the party’s future. So, Democrats, either make a real effort to include us in your political agenda, or run the risk of divorce.
I asked nationally syndicated columnist Esther J Cepeda (@estherjcepeda on Twitter) to offer her thoughts about Ramos' letter. What I love about Esther is that she is not shy in engaging her readers and her social networks in a way that I think speaks to the era of the "new digital columnist." She writes what she writes, doesn't shamelessly self-promote her works, but also takes the time to respectfully reply to her readers. It is no wonder that Voxxi recently named her one of the "most powerful Latinas in social media."
This is what Esther had to say:
I couldn't agree more with Jorge Ramos' take on the Democratic Party's treatment of Hispanics as sure-thing voters, and his demand for more respect and consideration. 
But, to extend the author's metaphor, any spouse that has been in a long-lasting marriage knows that just telling your mate that you don't want to be taken for granted anymore isn't going to change your relationship. And telling him or her for the hundredth time won't do it either. 
It usually takes a big, meaningfully symbolic event to get the attention of the partner who underestimates their loved one's value. Maybe that event will end up being President Obama's loss in the fall. 
Either way, both parties should wise up and follow Ramos' advice to make a real effort to substantively include Hispanics in their political agendas.
Esther and I will occasionally tweet examples of the "Hispanderfiesta," and yes, Democrats do it too, just like Republicans. I liked what she had to share here, and I was honored that she took the time to write back to me.
Another friend I asked was award-winning journalist Isaac Cubillos (@IsaacCubillos on Twitter), named as one of the "100 Most Influential Hispanics in the U.S.." by Hispanic Business Magazine in 1999 and the CEO of La Raza Unida 21. Isaac is a true journalistic padrino.
Isaac offered a different take that also resonated as well:
Ramos' focus on immigration is fine, but nary a word for the 75% of Hispanics born in the U.S. So his letter is from an immigrant's perspective. He can't be faulted for his narrowly written message. He works for a Spanish-language organization primarily viewed by immigrants. So his message to the Democrats is from that perspective. The Democrats are looking to woo voting Latinos—and jobs, education and civil rights are the primary concerns for the majority of Hispanics.
Isaac's perspective makes sense to me. Even though the I-word is an issue, there are many other issues that matter. As US Latinos continue to make their mark in the bigger democratic experiment that is the United States of Americans, Democrats cannot just assume they will get the votes because they are not Republicans. They must show it through their actions as well.
Finally, even though I included him last week, I HAD to ask Professor Stephen Nuño (@stephenanuno on Twitter) about the letter.
Stephen has become one of my favorite political pundits. I am a loyal reader of his NBC Latino columns, and I always love to talk and tweet politics with him. Here is what El Profesor told me:
Mr. Ramos' letter to the Democrats is more tortured. A sense of scorn for the Democrats betrayal of Latino families who were promised an administration who would be friendly to their loved ones seeking a pathway to legitimacy.
When a Republican administration tried to fix the immigration system, during the George Bush presidency, Democrats were hesitant to help a Republican. Ramos sees that despite the rhetoric, there are political forces at work that are too tempting to ignore even for those claiming to be our friends.
Until the Republicans see a political future in the Latino vote, Democrats will have less pressure on them to address those issues most important to us. That said, the only solution for Latinos is to talk to their neighbors and work to integrate more people into the political process.
So that was what what my friends said. Each one brings a perspective that makes this issue a bit more nuanced and complex.
It is no wonder that according to Gallup, more and more US Latino see themselves as independent, although they tend to lean more towards the left of center than right of center. However, Ramos is right in one aspect: promises were made in 2008 and those promises were broken. Democrats can blame it on the other guys all they want, but my sense is that voters are pretty much done with hearing it is all about the other guys, and they are actually smart enough to figure out for themselves that the GOP has been mediocre at best the last few years. Imagine if the GOP actually put forth a candidate with gravitas, and not a Republican John Kerry.
And that is why many US Latino voters are stuck. I keep hearing that at least the Democrats are the "lesser of two evils." Maybe so, but that sentiment is so disappointing. Why can't we demand to for all politicians to raise the bar and the discourse? Why can't we keep saying, "Basta ya con las Hispanderfiestas?" Why are we still allowing major political parties to be the ones in charge when in fact, it is we the voters who have the final say? And why aren't third parties taking advantage of this dissatisfaction? I mean, REALLY taking advantage of the voter apathy? Like engaging millions who don't think they have other alternatives besides a donkey and an elephant?
Some would call me naive for wishing that politics in this country become more transparent, more authentic, and more real, but stop and think for just one minute:  four years ago in 2008, I didn't even know people like Esther, Isaac, or Stephen. Now we are sharing our thoughts and ideas on a daily basis through posts and tweets. We are learning from each other and realizing that yes, there is power in numbers. The question is: will we ever take advantage of that power?