Tuesday, September 25, 2012

the latin vote and cafe con LALSA

Yesterday, at Law School, the LALSA (Latin American Law Students Association) held Cafe con LALSA, an opportunity to speak Spanish and talk practice your language skills. I went, even though I know I can't speak Spanish--but I try, and I can understand most of what's being said.

It was awesome! Besides being around a tongue that makes me feel at home, and making me feel nostalgic for the sound of a rolled R, it made me reconsider what it means to be "Latino".

There were at least three people in the room who grew up in South America, but who looked "white"--blonde hair, blue eyes and freckles. Were they not at a LALSA meeting, no one would guess walking down the street they were Latinos.  There were Ecuadorians, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Guatemalans.

I kept thinking about the election and how the "Latin vote" is considered important. And, while I've said it before, I'll say it again--there's no monolithic voting bloc of any race--but it's especially silly to lump together all Latinos as a "bloc". An evangelical Ecuadorian has far less in common with a North-Texas Mexicana than he does with a "values voter" from Colorado Springs. It seems to me the first party to really address us by the demographics within our ethnicity will be the first to gain a large benefit. But, to talk of winning us en masse is to misunderstand us to their detriment.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Am I better off than 4 yrs ago?

Let's take stock--I keep hearing on TV that the Republican talking point is "Are you better off than four years ago?" So, here's my attempt at an answer:
Four years ago:
-I was in Iraq.
-California had just made marriage equality illegal.
-I was scared of being kicked out of the Army when I returned or of staying in and growing old alone.
-I had just lost another classmate in Iraq and another in Afghanistan.
-My brother-in-law had just lost his job. My mother moved in with them to help take care of the kids so my sister could work as well. They sold their TV to keep afloat.

-I am happily married to a fellow Veteran and classmate.
-We are no longer actively involved in Iraq.
-My sister is pregnant again and her husband has a good job. They are looking at buying a home.
-The administration has stopped defending DOMA.
-The Post 9-11 GI Bill is paying for my education.
-Osama Bin Laden is dead.

It's all tentative however. We could easily backslide. We could elect Romney and cut taxes on the rich, appoint judges who don't believe equality is a right and send my friends to Iran or elsewhere. We could...but why?

Obama became President at a time of national emergency. He followed through on as many of his campaign promises as he could, but has not been able to break through Republican intransigence to build "bi-partisanship" and has instead created policies that are based upon moderately conservative ideals.

Are we better off? Yes.