The Latino vote is still up for grabs. And whether Sen. Barack Obama or Sen. Hillary Clinton captures it should depend not on their appeals to this particular constituency but on their broader appeals.
The candidates should address African-Americans as well as Latinos, low-income and moderate-income whites, as well as other minorities.
It’s odd that Clinton obtained two-thirds of the Latino vote in Nevada and Obama got 80 percent of the African-American vote, since both groups share so many interests.
On Super Tuesday, Feb. 5, Democrats will be competing again in Latino strongholds, this time especially in Arizona, California, and New Mexico. It’s not enough for Clinton to court Latino voters by visiting East Los Angeles and eating Mexican food. Nor is it enough for Obama to chant “Si, Se Puede” (“Yes, We Can”), the slogan of the United Farm Workers.
Both candidates must strive to gain the Latino and African-American vote not by pandering but by looking after the needs of these two groups. Many of these are mutual, such as stopping foreclosures, providing decent jobs, improving graduation rates, and steering youth away from gangs and prisons.
Latinos, as a community, do have their own needs, as well, and the candidates should attend to these, including immigration reform and bilingual education.
But the bread-and-butter issues that affect Latinos and African-Americans also resonate with low-income and moderate-income whites. After all, most voters simply seek to have affordable housing, secure jobs, health insurance, enough money to feed and educate their children and Social Security and Medicare benefits for retirement.
These are universal concerns, not minority ones.
Let us vote for the candidate who is most committed to serving the needs of our multicultural society, someone who can reunite and revitalize our country — through actions, not just promises. The future of our country is at stake.
Randy Jurado Ertll was a communications director and legislative assistant for a member of Congress. He can be reached at email@example.com.