LatinaLista — When the editors at The Sanctuary, of which Latina Lista is a founding member, submitted a rather lengthy questionnaire last month to all the presidential candidates, critics asked who did we think we were to expect the candidates to answer questions that were so Latino-centric.
Well, the obvious answer is we’re that distinct part of the larger constituency that is being both aggressively courted by both candidates and subjected to the most harsh repercussions of federally implemented policies.
So considering the situation, a questionnaire, no matter how long, seemed like a fair exchange if we are to be political targets from every angle.
Unfortunately, and maybe not surprisingly, not everyone agreed.
Obama’s campaign fulfilled their promise and filled out our questionnaire. In light of the $20 million investment they announced recently that they would be spending on Hispanic voter outreach, the questionnaire was a bargain.
The McCain campaign, aside from some Spanish-language ads, and a trip to Mexico and South America, hasn’t really tried to reach out to U.S.-based Latinos. Yet, I thought there was a glimmer of hope for the campaign.
For the last couple of months, there have been a few people on the McCain campaign staff that have made a concentrated effort to be inclusive of Latino bloggers when it came to including us on press lists, answering our questions and just being nice and informative.
However, the higher up we go in the campaign’s chain-of-command for Hispanic outreach and communications, there is less of that cordial behavior.
In trying to follow up with the McCain campaign after the deadline for the questionnaire had passed, Kety Esquivel, who was instrumental in spearheading the project, encountered some “technical problems.”
The first phone call I placed was answered cordially. I was told that someone would get back to me. I never heard back from anyone,” said Sanctuary editor Kety Esquivel of www.CrossLeft.org, who has appeared on CNN to discuss the questionnaire. “The second time I called, the person I was speaking with hung up and the third time I called the line was disconnected.”
Critics will undoubtedly ask, “What did you expect?”
As a voter, I expected a lot more, especially from the campaign of the man who professes he can best represent Hispanics.
For a candidate/campaign to show no regard to a simple request, treat Latino callers with such rude behavior, subject the larger Latino electorate to speeches professing admiration of Latino contributions to this country yet continually endorse with his silence the vocal members of his party who are responsible for creating the intimidation and chaos in some Latino communities, it is not hard to see why Latinos have always felt like the stepchildren when it came to politicians delivering their promises.
At a time when our communities are under siege with unduly harsh immigration enforcement measures, our young people are dropping out of high school and getting pregnant at higher rates, the schools that predominantly service our children are in a state of decline, healthcare is out of financial reach and racial profiling across the country is at its worst, the writers of the Sanctuary, along with the rest of the Latino community, deserve more than empty political promises or being ignored by a campaign that says it wants the Latino vote but doesn’t want to give them the time of day.
There is always a certain “leap of faith” that exists in any election between voters and the candidates. However, it’s no big leap to foresee just how responsive a McCain Administration would be to Latino concerns.
The bigger leap of faith is to disregard McCain’s unresponsiveness now and believe things will change for the better once he’s in Washington.