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The young Latino vote and the “I won’t let you take advantage of me” generation

 

Now that 2019’s days are numbered, it’s hard to believe that in February of 2020 the first caucus and primaries of the electoral year will take place, when Donald Trump will attempt to be reelected to another four years in the White House. That is, of course, if the selected Democrat cannot beat him at the polls, the third of November this coming year.

With this will also begin the prognostications about the role that diverse sectors of voters will play, whether it be to aid Democrats in overcoming Trump or, in a situation where they stay home and don’t vote, help Trump get reelected.

Latinos are one of these groups and, in this election, young Latinos especially are one of the most watched groups due to their support for progressive policies on diverse issues, especially immigration, positions that have made more than one aspiring Democratic presidential nominee sweat.

As it is well known, we Latinos are not a homogenous group in any aspect, ideologically speaking. And if you add to that the generational differences, one would expect to find a melting pot of conservative, moderate, and progressive ideas that pose a challenge for any Democratic politician looking for support from this sector.

The generational factor is key. Gone are the days of total loyalty to one party by tradition or family line. Little by little, Latinos have learned not to give away their vote simply because their family has always belonged to either one or the other of the two main political parties.

The new generations are demanding commitments and results, and they are confronting candidates without fear. In Puerto Rico they are known as the “I won’t let you take advantage of me” generation, alluding to the fact that they will not let themselves be lulled by idle talk and hollow promises that never result in real change. This generation was the tip of the spear in the organic popular movement on the Island this past summer, which forced the resignation of former Governor Ricardo Rosselló.

This same “I won’t let you take advantage of me” generation is that which, among Hispanics in the United States, is confronting traditional partisan sectors demanding change. It is the generation to which thousands of young undocumented people belong, who set aside fear to represent themselves and their undocumented parents, with the goal of achieving just immigration policies.

This past weekend, an article from NBC News specifically addresses how the generational factor poses an enormous challenge for the Democratic primary candidates who are trying to court the young Latino vote, whose support is not automatically guaranteed.

The piece alludes to the way that new generations of Latinos advocate for more progressive immigration policies, among these a moratorium on deportations or the decriminalization of undocumented crossings, rather than broad legalization proposals that would not progress at this time. A young activist cited in the article confronted the primary candidate Joe Biden, whose positions are more traditional and moderate, regarding the moratorium, and Biden responded that he should “vote for Trump.”

That is the crux of the problem. How can the Democrats appeal to young Latino voters if their immigration proposals are more traditional, with the goal of appealing to other, more moderate and conservative Latino voters who have a presence in crucial states for the presidential battle?

I belong to the “Boomer” generation, the last year (1964), but I have to say that my positions are not very traditional nor very moderate. I am a registered Independent and I am not in bed with any party. I vote for candidates, not for parties. I adjust to the times and I support the struggles of new generations. I share the sentiment of the “I won’t let you take advantage of me” generation, not believing in the word games of politicians and demanding non-traditional policies that force real change.

The only thing that I worry about in this moment is what will happen if the chosen Democrat is not to the liking of the younger generations. Will they opt to stay home as they did in 2016, when many Bernie Sanders supporters were upset because Hillary Clinton was the nominee? That was one factor in Trump’s victory; let us not forget that he won the Electoral College by less than 80,000 votes in three states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Clinton won the popular vote.

The possibility that Trump is reelected and continues his cruel war on immigrants and minorities must raise the hairs of all who advocate for immigrants, for justice, equality, and simple decency. Once a nominee is selected, my humble opinion is that we have to close ranks if the goal is to avoid the reelection of Trump.

If the Democratic candidate is elected, then the electorate that chose it should move toward pushing for real change and not accepting empty promises of action. The same goes for the Democrats if they maintain the House of Representatives or are able to capture the Senate.

Then, the “I won’t let you take advantage of me” generation will continue leading the fight for respect and for politicians to not take the Latino vote for granted.