Time to choose

Should Latinos support Clinton or Obama?

By Randy Jurado Ertll 01/31/2008

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Latino voters have a difficult decision to make Tuesday between the top two Democratic Presidential contenders.

It is a tough choice, since former President Bill Clinton was extremely popular among both African American and Latino voters. Now his wife is running and is courting Latino voters by visiting East Los Angeles and eating “ethnic” food. Sen. Barak Obama is chanting “Si Se Puede” in courting the Latino vote and stating that the majority of Latinos voted for him in Illinois when he ran for the Senate.  

The truth of the matter is that both candidates must continue to build bridges and improve communication and trust to truly gain the majority support of African-American and Latino voters.  

The Latino vote is significant and can definitely be the swing vote for any presidential candidate. In turn, Latino voters must demand substance over rhetoric.

Latino voters must ask each candidate where they stand on such issues as immigration reform, bilingual education, creation of jobs, prevention and intervention programs to steer Latino youth away from gangs and prison, creation of better public schools, improving graduation rates among Latinos and many more that impact quality of life.

It is already known that the majority of Latinos register as Democrats and tend to vote for a Democrat. The bread-and-butter issues that impact and resonate with poor whites and many African-Americans also apply to poor Latinos. After all, most voters simply seek to have secure jobs, Social Security and Medicare benefits once they retire and money to provide for their children’s education.

At an even more basic level, most voters want to be able to afford renting or owning a home, buying health insurance and providing food for their family.

Issues that are more specific among the Latino electorate are affordable housing, making health care accessible for everyone, reduction of crime and helping to prepare young Latinos to attain degrees.

Obama and Hillary Clinton should not be afraid to reach out to the poor Latino community and ask for their support. They cannot simply rely on big name “politico” endorsements. They need to meet and talk to working-class Latinos who can share their personal struggles and dreams in helping to build a better United States of America.

Each candidate must explore the reasons why so many young Latinos and Latinas are being recruited and choose to join the Armed Forces. Too many young men and women have already lost their lives in Iraq.  

Latinos should not need to feel as if they can “have a beer” with either candidate. Many voters have unfortunately used that kind of rationale when they go into the voting booth, as appeared to be the case with many who voted for President Bush.  

Throughout the civil rights struggle, many people were killed while advocating for minorities to have the right to vote. Voting is a sacred right. Our young African-American and Latino voters must learn about each other’s struggles and history in order to establish more trust and respect.  

Both communities must be re-convinced that their vote will truly matter in this presidential election.

Latinos need to feel reassured that our future president will fight for the needs of all working class people, including the unique needs of the Latino community.

Most voters go with their gut when they choose a candidate. They must also be responsible in seeing what issues each candidate is promising to tackle once they are seated in the White House. Let’s vote for the candidate who can reunite and revitalize our nation — through actions, not just promises. The future of our country is at stake.  

Whoever becomes president must create better opportunities for all Americans, especially the poor working class, who are the backbone of our country.

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