This note appeared in the print edition of Wednesday, January 3, 2018
We have said it before: being a minority does not mean being powerlessness, especially when a large part of the outcome of an election could be transformed thanks to the mass vote of the less represented groups.
This is the case of the Latin American community in the United States; an ethnic group that, while still considered a minority, has been taking off since the 90s to become one of the most powerful social group in the country, and today represents 18% of the population (about 58 million of people, according to information published by the Pew Research Center).
Despite these figures, Hispanics remain one of the least represented groups in national politics, with only 1% of elected officials in the United States.
This dichotomy is due to the exponential growth of the Hispanic population (from 28 to 58 million in that period of time) versus the low participation of that same population within national politics.
Of 58 million Hispanics, only 6,176 are elected public officials (between school boards, mayors, commissioners, judges, senators, governors, and legislators).
But this reality is changing.
This year we saw how Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala became the first Latina women to be elected to the House of Delegates of Virginia; likewise, we inaugurated 2017 with the most diverse Congress in history, with 39 Hispanics (when in 2001 there were only 19), 15 Asians and 50 African-Americans.
In the same way, Homar Gomez (Easthampton), Cristina Durán and Lucía Guzmán (Colorado), Salud Carbajal, Nanette Diaz Barragan and Lou Correa (California), Darren Soto (Florida, Ruben Kihuen (Nevada), Adriano Espaillat (New York) and Vicente González (Texas), have become the new leaders of the country's growing Latino population.
What should we expect then from 2018?
The elections for the United States Senate will take place on November 6, 2018, where 33 of the 100 positions will be debated and whose winners will serve for a period of six years.
Much of the contest will focus on the Democrat catch up, aware of the danger of centralizing power in two legislative houses with a Republican majority.
That is why the representation of minorities is so important, despite the fact that the campaign strategies of the Democratic Party haven’t focused their efforts on those who could really make a change.
We have already seen the effects of this transformation when, in the special elections in Alabama, the Democrat Doug Jones defeated the Republican Roy Moore thanks to the support of the African-American female vote.
But to win the support of the Hispanic electorate they will need more than words: they will need Latin American representatives to attract the vote of those who feel identified with them.
The Hispanic candidates who we will have to follow closely are: Kevin de León (California), John Melendez (California), Martin del Rio (Indiana), Bob Menendez (New Jersey), Rolando Toyos (Tennessee), Ted Cruz (Texas), Irasema Hernandez (Texas), and those are only in the Senate!
In AL DÍA we commit ourselves to bringing to the table all the candidates who will have the responsibility and honor to represent Latinos in the 2018 elections and who, if they do well, could finally change the course of national politics.