I admit it. I’m a needy Latino. In fact, this election year, I have so many needs that I had to make a list. Wait until you hear it.
But first, John Podesta was really onto something when the Clinton campaign chairman was caught whining, in a hacked email released by WikiLeaks, that the Democratic nominee had to make phone calls to schmooze with “needy Latinos.”
The horror. Democrats should stop complaining when they actually have to exert some effort to earn the support of Latinos, instead of just inheriting it because Republicans are so boneheaded about what they say and do.
After all, I thought the process of making calls to ask people for support in an election was called… what’s that word? Oh yeah… politics. Apparently, the way Democrats see it, when you call Wall Street bankers or prominent elected officials or union bosses to ask for votes or financial support, that’s perfectly fine. But when you have to debase yourself to consort with the lowly brown people whose support you’re supposed to have already, well, then, that’s simply asking too much.
Why don’t Podesta, and other Democrats who feel the way he does, just say what they really mean? It probably goes something like this: Why are Latinos so needy? Why don’t they quiet down, eat their tacos, and vote how we tell them to vote?
Which brings me to what’s making me so needy these days.
I need Democrats to stop taking Latino voters for granted, and finally act in ways that show they deserve this support. It’s not enough for Democrats to simply scare off Latinos from voting for Republicans. They should spend money, create outreach efforts and abandon the cheap and easy “chips and salsa” approach to courting America’s fastest-growing group of voters.
I need Democratic Party leaders to show some respect for Latino voters, who have given a majority of their votes to the Democratic nominee in the last 14 presidential elections. When a corporation has a customer that loyal, they shower them with perks, rewards, and upgrades. Only in politics does loyalty work against you by sending the message that you have nowhere to go.
I need for Democratic operatives to treat Latino leaders with reverence. In one email, Podesta said that Bill Richardson “can be a dick” but urged that Hillary Clinton call the former New Mexico governor for a formal endorsement anyway because Richardson is “still on TV a lot, especially on Univision and Telemundo.” That is, Podesta said, if it wasn’t “too galling” for Clinton to approach her Election 2008 rival for his support. Clinton eventually made the call, and Richardson endorsed her.
I need for Democrats to stop pressuring Latino leaders who refuse to play along. Podesta also suggested that Clinton call Federico Peña, who served as secretary of transportation and secretary of energy under President Bill Clinton. Peña was holding out and refusing to endorse Clinton, despite personal appeals from Ken Salazar, who served as secretary of the interior under President Obama and as a Democratic senator from Colorado. Podesta chalked up Peña’s reluctance to offer an endorsement not to any failing on Clinton’s part, of course, but to Peña’s personal “baggage” and lingering hurt feelings that no one in “Clinton World” had been there for him during his divorce in the 1990s. To this day, Peña has still not endorsed Clinton.
I need for both political parties to stop telling Latinos what they’re going to do for them (which they usually never do anyway) and start asking them what they’d like done. While politicians and the media seem to think that immigration is the top issue of concern for Latinos, that’s not true. According to numerous surveys, the top three issues for Latino voters are typically education, jobs/the economy, and health care. If politicians want to make inroads with Latino voters, they can start there.
I need for the media to stop dealing from the bottom of the deck and give as much attention to the WikiLeaks story as it has the revelations about Donald Trump’s vulgar language and boorish behavior. What we’re learning from the emails isn’t just idle gossip. It’s newsworthy material. For instance, it matters that former CNN contributor Donna Brazile—who was at the time the vice chair of the Democratic National Committee—appears to have leaked a town hall question to the Clinton camp but not to the camp of Clinton’s rival for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders. Doesn’t the public, especially those Sanders supporters who still haven’t committed to Clinton, deserve to hear the truth?
I need for the media to regain its focus and stop trying to keep Trump away from the White House, not because this is not a worthwhile goal but because this is not its role. Americans have always known the Fourth Estate leaned to the left and had a knack for helping liberal Democrats win elections. But we’re in uncharted territory now that newspapers and broadcast networks have pushed aside the Democratic nominee for president and dedicated itself to defeating the Republican nominee itself.
I need for Republicans to learn a lesson from the failing Trump campaign, and kick once and for all their horrible habit of exploiting the fear and anxiety caused by changing demographics to scare up votes from nervous white people. It’s not in the GOP’s best interest to continue to have as an enemy a Latino community that is expected to make up as much as 25 percent of the U.S. population by 2030.
Most of all, as an American voter, I need a better system for choosing presidential candidates and better choices in future elections. No one should be forced to accept this much mediocrity on one ballot. Whomever wins this election is going to be hobbled out of the starting gate—not just by the resentment of opponents, but also by the ambivalence of those supporters who simply voted against the other person.
Did you get all that, Mr. Podesta? Now instead of cooking up schemes and dishing insults, how about dedicating your best efforts to meeting some of those needs?