An Open Letter To The Tn Democratic Party

On Thursday evening, I was a guest in your home, so I held my tongue as best I could. However, I sent some colleagues an email wherein I expressed my deep concerns about the tenor of our meeting. In my opinion, the emphasis placed on assuring us of Mr. Obama’s position on immigration issues was at least mildly insulting. He has not taken a firm position on the issue of drivers’ licenses, for instance, and your assertion that he was implying otherwise doesn’t quite hold water. Mrs. Clinton has indeed equivocated and triangulated on a whole host of issues, so, yes, it is good strategy to remind voters of this trait whenever possible. He could have chosen any one of them to make his point. His attempt to pin her down on this specific issue could have been seen as him making a point about her, or, and I think this is more likely, seen as him making a point that would appeal to people’s fears–that the problem was not Clinton changing her mind, but her support of the proposed legislation in the first place.

I’m not a wide-eyed college freshman. I grew up in California and watched my father and his colleagues fight these same battles years and years go. I have some point of reference here, I think. In my email, I asked them these questions:

Why is that when engaged members of the Latino community meet, the sole topic is immigration reform? Is this our only concern? Do we not have our sons and daughters deployed in Iraq alongside black and white Americans? Don’t our families depend on a stable economy, and a thriving job market? Will our children and grandchildren not suffer from asthma from poisonous air or autism from chemicals in our water? “

In addition to the above questions, I’m wondering how the Obama campaign is planning to organize here in Tennessee. I was hoping to meet some people prepared to talk about what we can do as a community to assist his campaign.

I respect and admire our Democratic Party leaders. I do not for a minute question their commitment to the Latino community, and many are real leaders in a legislative body full of followers. That said, I feel that we missed an opportunity to exchange ideas the other night. I voted for Mr. Obama on Wednesday, but I did so only after months of thinking it through. In the end, it had nothing to do with his stance on immigration, which is murky at best. I decided that the fact that he taught Constitutional law would mean he sees the importance of restoring many rights we have lost under the current administration.

Frankly, I’m a little tired of the Democratic Party treating Latinos as if we are single issue voters. Likewise, I’m tired of Latino community leaders speaking on behalf of our entire community without involving the entire community in these discussions. Where, for instance, were representatives from the burgeoning 18-24 age group, who are a key Obama demographic?

It appears that the Party is moving towards transparency and inclusivity, and I applaud that. However, this age group is not necessarily as tied to the Democratic Party as their elders are. It seems vital that we are careful to accurately describe certain political realities, as younger citizens are quick to perceive pandering and hypocrisy. They will know if we sugarcoat important issues, and will grow disillusioned if all they hear from their leaders is “Si Se Puede.”

For instance, I think it would show real respect to say that yes, Mr. Obama is a proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, but not to expect that he will be able to push through groundbreaking legislation that will immediately alleviate the suffering of immigrants, including Hispanics. That fight will be with us for years. We, the Latino community, can handle the political realities.

Yours Truly,

Mack

Edited to add:  I’m troubled by my inability to nail something down.  I’ll admit to possessing a pretty weak Google-Fu, so I am asking for help from some of you nerdy types.  There was an article in the San Francisco Chronicle (The Gate?) that Obama was “rolling the dice” with his gutsy stance on drivers licenses for everyone.  Michelle Malkin cites that article.  I believe the Huffington Post did so as well.  But, after reading the article, I can’t find an attribution.  To whom did he say this?  If the Media believe that he did so as a part of a total immigration overhaul, then, fine.  But I see no proof that he is running around advocating this as a stand-alone approach.  I spent the weekend finding quotes from Latino leaders that he favors this as such.  Is this yet another case of one person saying it, and the rest just “running with it”?

28 Comments

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28 responses to “An Open Letter To The Tn Democratic Party

  1. There was an excellent piece on NPR yesterday about the Dems pandering to the Latinos. Eat a few tacos and say “Si, se puede”, and you’ve totally bought the Amigo vote.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18608312

    If you thought the TN Dems were above pigeon-holing you as a single issue voter, whose usefulness occurs only during election years, then I have some Aztec gold to sell you.

  2. I heard that too. My favorite line?

    “We have an office bet going as to which candidate will put on a sombrero first.”

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  4. woody

    Mack, I sympathize with your feelings and agree with about 90% of what you say, however, in their defense, time is an issue for them. They cannot cover all they the topics they should or reach all the people they want. It makes sense to find the most important issue, the one that will touch the most buttons. I am a 64 year old mexican born in LA and all my kids and relative were born in America, yet the immigration issue touches me deeply because it tells me how my country feels about people of my color and heritage. Right now I feel isolated and angry that we have become a battlefield. We do not deserve to be in the middle of this debate. Both legals and illegals are people who love their familes, want to earn a living and give our children a better life than we had, no different than anyone else, so to be singled out as an “issue” depresses me. I think the Obama people were only telling you his heart is on the right side. I support Hillary as you know, but I applaud Obama for at least reaching out and proving his heart is in the right place.

  5. *Cheers & applause* at Woody’s comment.

    Excellent post.

  6. When John Kennedy ran I remember everyone assumed I and my family were for him since I grew up Catholic. To them, that was the only issue.

    People make assumptions, it’s just their nature to do so. Hopefully, what you told them will open their eyes a little more to the truth that we are all worried. All of our families are touched by what these people in power have done to our country.

  7. Right on, Mack. Immigration is a very key topic, but not the only topic. That would be like assuming we only eat rice and beans for dinner each night.

  8. democommie

    Mack:

    I saw your note on MCB. Good for you. Pols are pols; I often wonder if they have any genuine passion (not the public stuff) for anything EXCEPT getting re-elected. They all seem to want to be in charge, but few, if any are willing to say, definitively what they will do if elected.

    I suggest this exercise. Prepare a list of, say, six questions that are designed to elicit a response of either a conservative/reactionary or liberal/progressive nature and have them asked, of the same candidate by different people (people who assume the role of lib/cons alternately. I would be very surprised if the candidate did not say, in an ambiguous way, pretty much what they thought their listener wanted to hear. Always examine the voting records and legislative initiatives, that’s where the truth lies–if it exists.

    Unfortunately, Latinos are just the latest whipping boys for the demagogues who can only sell fear because they have no hope. Yesterday, a wonk on NPR said that the GOP was poisoning their relations with Latino voters for many years to come–would that it were so.

  9. nm

    The real danger of treating immigration (or any other issue that is of great concern, but is not the only concern) as a group’s single issue is that it allows a small subset of that group to start calling itself the group’s official representatives, and to hijack any discussion of anything that affects the group. You don’t want there to be a Latino version of AIPAC, believe me.

  10. Pingback: Volunteer Voters » Respecting The Common Latino Voter

  11. Pingback: Listen Now or Listen Later « Tiny Cat Pants

  12. Yeah, women are never treated as single-issue voters. Ditto GLBT voters. And African-Americans. And religious people.

    And on. And on.

  13. Good point, Beale. You agree that it is wrong across the board…right?

  14. Southern Beale,
    YUP!

  15. democommie

    Southern Beale:

    Pity the focus group that has to fiure out how deal with gay, female, African-American , fundamentalist christians.

  16. I think we have a winner. I’m hearing reports that Hillary was dancing around on C-SPAN in a sombrero. Unconfirmed gossip.

  17. I wish the Coyote Chronicles would allow me, a
    Democrat Presidential Candidate,2008, from
    TN to mail them a coopy of my PLATFORM.
    I believe it would make the COYOTE HOWL
    in delight. What is your mailing address????
    You”hit the nail on the head’ Coyote, BARAKA
    HUSSEIN OBAMA, JR., is only interested in
    himself and AFRICA while de continues his
    hatred against White America. Africa sold HIS
    people into slavery; Lincoln freed them; now
    they want to subsidize the same nation that sold
    them into Slavery!!They should get down on
    their knees every night and praise America for
    allowing them to be brought up in America. If
    they think any Nation owes them anything, they
    should be asking AFRICA to pay them!!

  18. Dear Doctor, for starters, Africa is not a country. It is a rather large continent.

    Second, you appear to be an idiot.

  19. bwahahahaa…the trolls are out in full force…

  20. Mack, I guess I just assumed you’d gotten your PhD in the Erotic Arts. Or was that just an MFA?

  21. nm

    But I really, really wanna see a “coopy of [his] PLATFORM.” It’s gotta be delightful.

  22. I think the DR stands for Democrat and/or Republican. He’s what you’d call a perennial candidate (some people collect knives, he likes to run for Senate…everybody needs a hobby, I guess.) Anyhow, he’s Tennessee’s version of Lyndon LaRouche, only far less successful.

  23. FOXY

    I WONDER WHY THE HILLARY CLINTON WEBSITE DOES NOT APPEAR AT THE TOP OF TENNESSEE DEMOCRATIC PARTY AS YOU HAVE HAD OBAMA THERE FOREVER..FAIR IS FAIR..PUT HER THERE!!

  24. There’s this button, see? It’s on the lefthand side of the keyboard, between the shift and the tab….

  25. Wait, Mack runs the Tennessee Democratic Party? And he hasn’t gotten me a cushy job?

  26. nm

    Only to keep Ned from getting suspicious, though.

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