Some 29 Democratic candidates surfaced to run against Trump for president. It was exciting to witness the range of political philosophies from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on the left to Michael Bloomberg on the right.
Racial, ethnic and gender diversity was represented by candidates such as Tulsi Gabbard from American Samoa, Andrew Yang a prominent Asian, African Americans such as Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, a Latino and Pete Buttigieg a gay person. The dynamics of the campaign distillation process reduced the field to the finalists Joe Biden and Kamala Harris that now head the Democratic ticket.
The process revealed the power and leverage of the Black community that was displayed in the turn around of the Biden candidacy especially in the south. The process also revealed that the African American community is most heavily into the Democratic Party.
The complicated history of the Black community that led them from the Republican Party to become Democrats is, in some ways, a contrast to the Latino community experience. The fact that Secretary Castro was not invited to address the Democratic National Convention this election year is a backhanded acknowledgment that the Latino community is “too diverse” to rate a seat at the table at this time.
Latino history with political parties is also complicated but in a different way. Although that is no longer the case, being all in on one party was part of the early experience of Latinos.
During my early childhood in Texas I knew very little of political parties except that everyone in the community and beyond was a Democrat. The big exception was our Black neighbors who worshiped Abraham Lincoln and his Republican Party legacy.
When Papa Chano (grandfather) went to vote on our behalf, it was always for a straight Democratic ticket. When we came to Colorado as migrants, the outlook provided by the Democratic Party continued.
As I grew up in Colorado I noticed more and more that it was a “Republican” state and that intrigued me because I could not understand the relationship between Colorado Republicans and the African American families I had known in Texas. In time, I came to the realization that White folks could also be Republicans.
My last years as a teenager were spent in the military where I noticed the deep distain held by mostly southern Whites in the ranks against Black soldiers. Those were the years of the civil rights movements and the major resistance to racial discrimination.
That was also the time of Republican candidates Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon and the Southern Strategy that turned the conservative and racist South from Democrat to Republican. It is that legacy that moved the African American community away from the Republican Party to become Democrats.
Although the Latino community in the Southwest continued their traditional relationship with the Democratic Party, there was a segment that was captured by the realignment of the party structure. This included members of my family.
Also, a large source of Latino Republican affiliation came from the Cuban immigrant community that that saw their notion of opportunity for wealth creation and anti-Communist stance more in line with Republicans. Donald Trump however, is ruining the concept of Latino political diversity by using Latino immigrants as props for his own political agenda.
In the long run, we need for the Latino community to take leadership in both parties because as the emerging face of a new America it has to reflect that diversity. That is destiny.