Election Year 2002 may be the turning point wherein the voices of politics finally become a reflection of the diversity of American life. America has become a country in which more than 330 languages other than English are spoken. In San Diego County, alone, voices speaking in Farsi, Arabic, French, Italian, German, Chinese, Japanese and Spanish, to name a few, can be heard.
Español (Spanish) is currently the strongest competitor of the English language. This should not come as a surprise since the United States’ border is the gateway for millions of Spanish linguistic groups. From Mexico to Chili, the common language spoken is Spanish. Migration from Mexico, Central and South America has brought millions of Spanish speaking immigrants to our country.
This has not always been the case. In the 1700s, the German language was the most commonly used language other than English. Fearful that America would become a German speaking country, Benjamin Franklin riled against streets and roadways being given German names and schools using the German language to educate children. The roots of future “English only” rules found their foundation in the fears of the Protestant, British colonists.
The long history of the conquest and settlement of North, Central and South America by our Spanish and Mestizo forefathers has long been forgotten and ignored by our educational systems. By the 1500s, our Spanish forefathers had built forts and communities across North America. By the time the Mayflower had arrived, what is known as the United States, was already part of the Spanish empire and was populated by Spanish speaking settlers. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that Spanish is the most commonly used language in the U.S., aside from English.
Though efforts to oppose the use of the Spanish language have continued in recent history, they have failed. More and more of the U.S. has recognized the enormous potential that there is in being able to work with the majority of the other countries of the Americas. Businesses and corporations have come to recognize the potential of the “Hispanic consumer” and the market they represent. Government, under enlightened leadership, have become very aware of the ramifications of a united AMERICAN CONTINENT and what it means in terms of international influence and power. The politicians have been the laggards in recognizing the importance of incorporating the massive Mexican, Latino, and Hispanic voting blocks into their campaigns.
Though slow in coming, over the last decade or so the Democratic Party has reluctantly provided entry into the political system and attempted to maximize the Hispanic/Latino vote to their advantage. Thus far, the Democratic Party has not been willing to empower the Mexican American /Latino population in meaningful ways. We are still in the position of “patron” and “peon.” The White, Democratic structure controls all the levers of power and wealth; we are still on the outside. The reason: the unwillingness of the Republican Party to engage the Mexican American/Latino vote. By default, they have permitted the Democratic Party to reap the benefits of millions of Latino, Mexican and Hispanic American voters.
Since 1988, the Republican Party of California hasn’t won a single election. The Democrats have won control of the governorship, legislature, and every statewide office except the Secretary of State. With help from the Latino voters, the Democrats have won almost total control of the state and now rule with impunity. This is not good for the Democratic process of governance. Unfortunately, complete democratic control of the state has not translated into any measurable improvements in the lives of our people.
The Assembly and Senate seem to serve only the corporations and unions: they have sold their souls to those who contribute millions to their coffers. They need not worry about the people of the state, and they need not worry about the Republicans because there are not enough of them in office to stop them from passing any bill they desire.
There are currently signals in the air that hint at the fact that the hierarchy of the Republican Party has recognized that they can’t win elections with out the support of Mexican American, Latino and Hispanic voters. In the 2000-year election, candidate George W. Bush began using phrases in Spanish and reaching out for the Hispanic vote. He won and has moved to empower the Hispanic, Mexican and Latino communities. On May 20, 2002, he moved the Republic Party to adopt and launch the television and radio news magazine “Abriendo Caminos” (Forging New Paths). The program aired in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Las Vegas, Nevada, Denver, Colorado, Fresno, California, and in Miami and Orlando, Florida.
The Republican National Committee out of Washington D.C. has sent marching orders to their membership; they are to go into the barrios and neighborhoods where Mexicans, Latinos and Hispanics reside to meet with and talk to the people. They are telling their elected officials and appointees, as well as the matrons and patrons of the party, to socialize with and invite the people to meet with them. They are to find out their problems and discuss the things that they have in common. They are asking their rank and file to open their doors to those who share with them the principles of family. Social outreach is urged, and they have been instructed to invite Latinos to their political events and to interchange information.
The message is clear: if the Republican Party is to be a viable force, they are going to have to broaden their reach and change where it is necessary or they will never be a force in the American political scene.
The Editors of La Prensa welcome the president’s efforts to make his party the party of inclusion rather than exclusion. We urge the Democratic Party to also look into the heart of the party. They have strayed away from many of the principles that we hold dear.