On November 9, 2016 we should know who will be the President-elect of the United States. But it is also possible that we may have to wait weeks or months before there is an official decision rendered. The Republican candidate has intentionally been undermining the democratic institutions and electoral process in the name of “Making America Great Again”. He has given his band of “patriotic Americans” what they were looking for, a reason to reject everything they said they loved and stood for, until things stopped going their way!
Regardless of who wins there can be little doubt that the United States of America will be a very divided society with few institutions and politicos who have the courage to lead us out of this overt and odorous stench that has engulfed this nation. As Latinos, this election has exposed the real challenges we face as a community. The ignorance of what causes us to come to this country, the failure to recognize the factors that pushed us to risk so much to journey to this country, our presence, our language, our culture, have caused fear.
This fear has been masked in so many ways and perhaps some even chose to ignore and deny it existed. Nevertheless, it has grown ripe and very visible. Whatever lid placed on societal norms dealing with misogyny, bigotry, racism, public insults, speaking before reading or thinking, have been completely removed. We see so many expressing their new found freedom, gladly manifesting their resentment, frustration, and hatred. The door was always their but Trump felt comfortable opening it because of what he could personally gain.
A major challenge that we have ignored far too long is that we must take the responsibility of solving the problems that generations of Latino have faced in the US. The Democratic and Republican Party have clearly demonstrated they are not the answers for our future. With very few exceptions, Latinos in these political institutions are more aligned with the institutional needs and priorities than they are with eliminating or minimizing the obstacles that have become almost intractable over so many decades.
Former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg recently stated that the next President will face a “conundrum”, how to deal 40% of current jobs being lost due to developments in technology. This clearly makes education the key to our economic future and that of this nation. Yet, how many times have we marched for a better education? How many times have Univision and Telemundo focused on how Latino politicos and Democrats defend the status quo of the public education system? How many times has Jorge Ramos confronted superintendents of the largest school districts in the nation about the poor education outcomes in predominantly Latino public schools? We can answer these questions ourselves, we can decide what we do to improve the education of our children and the next generation, which is right around the corner.
This is a great responsibility in of itself and it will be at a time and environment of divisiveness our current generation has not experienced before. The whole world will be watching how US society deals with this internal threat to our stability and democracy. I have emphasized that we must not get caught up with finger pointing or with feeling sorry for ourselves. Yes, we have been a victim for far too long but we must not think like a victim for it paralyzes us and continues the cycle, the paradigm that minorities are dependent on others to lead them to the promise land. We must change how we see ourselves by applying the qualities, the grit, the talent, the creativity and experience we’ve not acknowledge before. These qualities must be used to craft a better future, to develop a path that rises all ships not just a few!
This requires us to think critically and independently of political parties. It will require us to hold accountable those we elect regardless of their color, culture, education, or profession. We must learn from all of the political “good intentions” and “low expectations” that have plague us and brought about little results. Based on where we are as a society and the structural issues that have hindered generations of Latinos from fully realizing the great promise of this nation, there are no other avenues for us to take. We must not be afraid nor retreat inward from what we have seen this past year, nor believe that one candidate can make everything better. We own this challenge, it is ours to answer and overcome.
Arnoldo S. Torres, is a political analyst based in Sacramento. He is a well-known commentator on Spanish-language media with a long history of advocacy on Latino issues at all levels of government.