Latino News and Opinion

The giant has finally woken up
Por Editorial   
15:20 | 03/07/12
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But without a 'head,' it might be blundering toward disaster...


Lee Iacocca was the CEO, years ago, who singled-handedly brought Chrysler Corporation back from the brink of disaster. He did it with grit and with honor and no need of a government bailout. Years later, perhaps reflecting on the intense experience, he wrote a book and gave it this telling title: “Where Have All The Leaders Gone?”

Iacocca was asking why leaders —abundant in the past— are now in short supply. He wondered if perhaps they’ve gone into hiding and disappeared.

(Read Spanish Version / Lea versión en español: El gigante finalmente ha despertado)

But all these years later, the question might better be recast: Has cowardice killed leadership? And, in particular when talking about government, is it the political “game” that is keeping the most qualified out of public service?

There is a perception that government and public policy are in the hands of ambitious and irresponsible career politicians whose only interest is winning elections, and whose credo may well be “the end justifies the means.”

For the Latino community of the United States -- the 50-million-strong nation within the nation, of whom approximately 20 million are eligible to vote in the 2012 elections -- the lack of strong leadership couldn’t be more detrimental. 

Who is the voice in the desert willing to speak the truth and gather the scattered?

Is it Florida’s Republican Senator Marco Rubio? Is it the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa? Is it Julian Castro, a Democrat, the mayor of San Antonio and, at 37, one of youngest mayors in the nation? Is it Sammy Sosa or Jennifer Lopez or Eva Longoria?  

Come on. Is there no national leader for the Latino vote in 2012? 

No, according to recent Pew Hispanic survey. As a community we don’t identify any as national leaders, and in their absence, our political clout, while potentially significant remains disorganized and easy to manipulate.

The two parties -- not surprisingly Republicans more so than Democrats -- have positioned representatives to gain the spotlight among Latinos right now. Beginning this week, Sen Marco Rubio will be be giving 15- to 20-minute interviews to Hispanic media outlets across the nation, including America New Media, Hispanic Link, CNN en Español, TV Azteca, and AL DIA News Media. (See our interview with Rubio on page 1.10)

The objective is to personify the Republican agenda for Latinos through the handsome looks and articulate sound bytes of a man with a Latino name, “el Señor Rubio.” Not to diminish Sen. Marco Rubio’s stature as a natural leader of his constituency in Florida, he has no credentials in the Northeast and even less in the Southwest, where most of American citizens of Latino descent live in this great nation of ours. 

For them, Senator Rubio is a Florida politician of Cuban descent, and Americans of Mexican descent prefer Castro (Julian, in San Antonio, not the old man on the island of Cuba.)

Rubio can give us many good lines to print in Hispanic media about his sincere longings for a  better America, where he is the proud son of immigrants, like many of us. However, Latino voters are smarter. We are way smarter than we are perceived to be.

Smart enough to understand that Sen. Rubio is performing a job mandated by leaders at the very top of the Republican Party machine (none of them Latino) who are all of a sudden finding the need to “connect with Latino voters.” They’re rushing to play this card, earlier than usual, and Rubio’s availability to the media (will he finally, give Univision an interview?) is a sign that the value of the Latino vote is rising at least as steadily as gasoline prices as we approach the fight for the White House in November.

And while the value of the Latino vote keeps gaining, it seems, sadly, that the quotient of viable and credible leadership within the Latino community may be doing the opposite....

 

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