The political mantra from the campaign of Barack Obama has been about the great need for change! At political rallies our community has heard the rallying cries of “Si Se Puede.” For the Hispanic community the rallying call stood as a beacon of hope, one that many hoped would bring the light of day to our ongoing political struggle. Many stood and listened to Obama speak about the immigration issue, he being an immigrant himself, many more hoped that here finally was a politician that understood the issue, would do something to address and resolve it.
Unfortunately as we sit and watch the Democratic convention unfold on our TV’s, there has been no discussion of the immigration issue, which affects our communities. The Democratic Party platform in fact offered little if nothing new in regards to calling or advancing a just humane immigration policy. What has not changed is the fact there are fewer Hispanic delegates at this year’s convention than in 2004, and Hispanic delegates numbered but 12% at the convention. Even worse, politically, has been the lack of Hispanic presence at the Democratic convention, and in particular that no Hispanic leaders were scheduled to appear on prime television time.
No Fabian Nuñez, leader of the California Assembly, no Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of one of the largest cities in the country, or anyone of political importance delivering a giving a keynote address speech to millions of viewers. For Hispanics it is apparent that nothing has changed. The 2008 convention like the 2004 convention, in fact all past conventions, remains the same. Large number of brown faces in the background, on the convention floor, but no keynote speakers. Much has been made over the importance of the Hispanic vote; however it is apparent that is not the case at the 2008 convention.
The Hispanic community instead of getting keynote speakers, instead have been given Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle, former Secretary of Energy and Transportation Federico Peña, and Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Assistant to the Speaker of the House. Only one featured speaker has been presented, termed out ex presidential candidate, Governor Bill Richardson. Richardson a one time Clinton supporter who owed his political career to the Clintons dropped out of the presidential race and threw his support to Obama. If one wanted to view and listen to any of the above speakers, one has to be an avid viewer of C-Span and in most cases be a night owl.
It was just 4 years ago that a young State Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama who was then unknown nationally was given the opportunity to be a keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic Convention. Obama gave an inspiring speech that thrilled millions of viewers across the nation and became an overnight household word that then allowed him to launch his presidential political career. Obama went from a State Senator, to US Senator and now to the presidency in less than four years!
For Barack Obama and the Afro-American community things have changed, and “Si Se Puede” does aptly apply. However for the Hispanic community, the largest growing population in the U.S. it is obvious that once again it has been again relegated to the cheering section, and taken for granted by the Democratic Party. Politically it appears that the more things change, the more they remain the same!