Maribel Hastings and David Torres
Super Tuesday, that important day that continues to define who will be the Democratic nominee for the presidential election, did not disappoint on many levels, particularly in what appears to have been an enormous wave of voter participation, especially among the Hispanic community. It also clarified the contest between two apparent rivals: former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, who represent two spectrums of the Democratic Party.
Biden came from behind to have an excellent performance in states that could be competitive in the general election against Donald J. Trump. “I am here to report: We are very much alive!” exclaimed Biden in California, energized by his string of victories. According to reports, Biden was catapulted forward in large part by African-American, senior, center-moderate, and white, college-educated voters, while Sanders, who ran away with the major prize of California’s delegates, had strong support among Hispanics, liberals, and voters under the age of 40.
Electoral clichés aside, the role of Latino voters in participating in the selection of the nominee has become even more crucial, because of the conditions under which today’s current administration has left this country, which during almost four years has seen the president break all political morals, our migration heritage, historic development, and the plurality upon which the rest of the people seems to agree and in which the Hispanic community played a leading role.
In that way, it remains clear that Latinos will play a crucial role in choosing the Democratic nominee and that they intend to define who is the best person to face off against, and defeat, Trump in November. A Trump who has made the persecution of Hispanics and immigrants his daily routine, something that he also promises to exploit in his re-election campaign.
Trump has not delayed much in reinforcing this anti-immigrant vein with which he has his base literally hypnotized, such as the recent declarations in which he links the danger of the spread of the coronavirus to border security, a vulgar and unfortunate reference which could come back to bite him, since already the level of politicization of the American people and their migrating populations allows them to assume that these and other types of declarations are a direct attack on the voter that wants change and their families.
Meanwhile, different reports pointed to the growing electoral participation in the primary process. Various surveys conclude that “Uncle Bernie” seems to be benefitting from Latino support, especially among young voters, as a recent poll from Latino Decisions and Univision shows, which highlights that in California alone, which contributes 415 delegates, some 42% of Latinos responded that they would vote for the senator from Vermont, while only 15% would choose Biden.
Sanders, however, seems to have trouble attracting the African-American vote in southern states like North Carolina and Virginia, a crucial segment of the electorate in states important to the general election.
And that is one of the questions: what would happen in a match-up between Trump and Sanders, if he is the nominee? Would he be able to effectively compete against Trump in key states in order to win the presidency? Another question is, what will happen if Sanders is not the nominee? That is, if there is a repeat of what happened in 2016 when many “Sanderistas” turned off by the nomination of Hillary Clinton, stayed home thinking that the former senator and first lady already had the election in hand, but although she won the popular vote, she lost the Electoral College to Trump by just 80,000 votes in three states: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
A similar scenario could inevitably destroy any chance for change at the White House, as well as involve the country and its destiny in an historic maelstrom from which there would be no return, which would give a dramatic spin to the global world order, where the agenda of xenophobia and racism would do even more damage at the global level.
The Sanders campaign at least seems to have understood the importance of courting the community and the Latino vote ahead of time, not 48 hours before the election, and it seems to be working. Biden, like many Democrats before him, continues betting on Hispanic loyalty to the Democratic establishment and that the support of different Hispanic figures and politicians will help him in the process. Perhaps in some parts of the country and among some sectors of voters this is the case. Voters are also looking for a return to “normality” and Biden offers them a sense of familiarity and stability.
But it is a matter of fact that the young Latino voter is not the same and does not think the same as their parents and grandparents. And in that sense it’s worth emphasizing that the younger generations have acquired a political maturity even greater than that of earlier generations, such that upon achieving voting age they do not hesitate to register and submit their votes. And now, their electoral enthusiasm seems to be even greater, which will surely be historic from any point of view.
In fact, this ongoing internal Democratic battle among center-moderate voters and the more progressive wing of the party, typically reflected in the gaps between generations, has added drama to the Democratic electoral process.
Curiously this fight is now personified by two white men who are approaching 80 years of age, Biden and Sanders, who do not exactly reflect the claims of youth and diversity of gender and ethnicity, that progressives advocate for.
In that way Latinos, with each and every one of their diverse ideologies, are lining up to be an important voting bloc in the 2020 contest, which promises to be a fight between white men over 70 years of age to take the reins of a diverse nation where it is actually the minorities, such as Hispanics, who are infusing youth and new energy into the process, in order to continue the historic legacy of this great social experiment that is the United States.
To read the Spanish-language version of this article, click here.