Things That Matter

Both Sanders And Clinton Make A Big Promise To Latinos

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have now gone on the record as saying that they would appoint Latinos to their cabinets and other top positions should they be elected president, at least according to their answers to a 20-question survey sent to them by the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda. Their written statements are the first concrete indications of how their presidencies will try to be inclusive of the largest minority group in the country.

What is the NHLA?

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Credit: National Hispanic Leadership Agenda

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda was established in 1991 and is countrywide coalition of top Latino advocacy groups that fight for the advancement of the Latino community, whether it be by advocating for beneficial policies or pushing for Latino inclusion in the political realm.

On Feb. 25, the NHLA sent a 20-question survey to all of the presidential candidates that asked how they were planning on helping out Latinos should they reach the highest office. In a surprise to no one, only the two Democratic candidates responded.

There’s a lot to unpack there (and we’ll definitely do that in the coming days), but the one thing that stood out for us was how they responded to the following question: “What would you do as president to meet or exceed the current level of Hispanic representation in presidentially-appointed positions?”

First, a brief history of Latinos in cabinet positions.

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Credit: Marc Nozell/Flickr

Currently, there are approximately 1,200 to 1,400 positions that require a presidential appointment (and senate confirmation). Of these, 15 are official cabinet positions and 7 others are cabinet-level appointments. There are two Latinos in Obama’s Cabinet — Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro (a Mexican-American from Texas) and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez (a Dominican-American from Maryland). Although not an official cabinet position, Obama’s advisory team also includes Maria Contreras-Sweet, the Mexican-born Administrator of the Small Business Administration.

To date, there have been 12 Latinos named to presidential cabinets — including Henry Cisneros (pictured above), who, like Castro, is a Mexican-American from San Antonio who served as HUD Secretary— and two Latinas named to cabinet-level positions (the aforementioned Contreras-Sweet and Aida Alvarez). The first time a Latino was appointed to a cabinet position was in 1988, when Ronald Reagan named Lauro Cavazos to spearhead the Department of Education.

How did Hillary Clinton respond? Is she with us as much as older Latinos are with her?

Credit: @hillaryclinton/Instagram

All signs point to yes:

“If elected president, I will build on President Obama’s progress of appointing Latinos throughout the executive branch. From special assistants to cabinet members, Latinos will play a key role in helping to shape my policy priorities and be effectively represented in our agencies.”

Although Hillary Clinton’s record with Latinos hasn’t been the best (particularly on immigration), it’s completely possible that she’ll appoint as many (if not more) Latinos to her cabinet than President Obama. There’s already talk that she could pick a Latino vice-presidential running mate — two top contenders are Secretary Castro and Secretary Perez. That would certainly qualify as “build[ing] on President Obama’s progress.”

Young Latinos are feeling the Bern, but is he feeling Latinos?

Credit: @BernieSanders/Instagram

Also yes:

“A Bernie Sanders Administration would reflect the diverse make-up of the country. Our country is best when a diverse group of people with different backgrounds and different points of view come together behind a common cause. I can think of no place more vital for such diversity than in the cabinet of the President of the United States of America.”

That’s a bit of a wishy-washy answer, which is very #onbrand for Bernie, but it’s still a positive answer. Because he didn’t give specifics (again, kind of #onbrand), let’s assume that he’ll at least go by the demographics of our country. With 15 cabinet appointments, and Latinos accounting for 17 percent of the total population, Bernie would have to nominate more than 2 Latinos (2.55) to be on par with the numbers.

Promising responses, to which both candidates will be held accountable should the make the high office. We’ll be watching.

READ: The Vice President Running Mate For The Democratic Party Could Be One Of Us

Register to vote today by downloading the Latinos Vote app for iOS and Android. Our voice matters. #WeAreAmerica

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They Supported Different Candidates At The DNC But These Two Delegates Both Cast Votes To Help The Latino Community

Things That Matter

They Supported Different Candidates At The DNC But These Two Delegates Both Cast Votes To Help The Latino Community

Anthony Santiago / Zenaida Huerta

Since Joe Biden clinched the Democratic presidential nomination in April, his team has been hard at work brokering a sort of truce with rival candidate Bernie Sanders, along with his dedicated supporters.

This outreach became ever more apparent at last week’s Democratic National Convention, as Sanders and his closest allies, as well as many of their one-time rivals, say the party is united behind Joe Biden in the face of a common enemy: Donald Trump.

In a live-streamed speech, Bernie said: “As long as I am here, I will work with progressives, with moderates, and, yes, with conservatives to preserve this nation from a threat that so many of our heroes fought and died to defeat.” He added: “This election is the most important in the modern history of this country. We need Joe Biden as our next president.”

The Biden team has worked hard to forge this bridge between Biden and Sanders supporters, and although Biden has also excluded a number of cherished progressive policies from his party’s platform, the relationship remains intact.

Biden and Sanders supporters want voters to know one important thing: it’s OK to change your mind.

Now, as many Sanders supporters and delegates to the convention come to support Biden, the two sides want to show voters that it’s OK to change your mind and to support the nominee – even if he wasn’t your first (or second or third…) choice.

We sat down with two young Latino delegates who proudly nominated their chosen candidate for President of the United States at this convention. They may not have cast their vote for the same candidate but they both agree that our community needs a voice at the table and that all of us will benefit from actual leadership in the White House.

They started out supporting different candidates but these two delegates agree on the importance of this election.

Meet Anthony Santiago and Zenaida Huerta – two young Latino delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Although they cast their vote for different candidates, they both share similar motivations for making sure their voice (and the voice of their community) was heard.

Anthony is a 19-year-old delegate from Kissimmee, Florida and, having been a Biden supporter from the very beginning, proudly cast his vote for Joe Biden.

Zenaida, from California, is a 21-year-old Bernie Sanders supporter and it wasn’t her first time attending the convention as a delegate – she also cast her vote for Sanders at the 2016 convention at just 17-years-old.

When asked about the importance of voting and getting involved in politics, they both pointed out how consequential this election is. Anthony said, “The single most important thing that any of us can do this year is vote. When we are united, our voice can make a huge, positive difference in our nation. There has never been a more important election in our lifetimes than the 2020 presidential election.”

Zenaida urges our community, especially young Latinos to “realize your power. We are in this fight for the long haul—not just until our friends stop posting about it. When we stay in this fight, we see change.”

Anthony came to the convention as a long term Biden supporter.

Anthony told Mitú that he came to appreciate and admire Joe Biden during the presidency of Barack Obama. He would watch the news with his mom every morning while getting ready for school and he felt that Barack Obama was a leader he could look up to.

He added that during the Democratic primary, he was “watching every debate and taking the time to look into each candidate and Joe Biden’s plan for healthcare was what I gravitated to most.”

Anthony also points out that for him, his support of Biden isn’t just about policy. According to Anthony, ”Biden’s personal story also really stood out to me. It’s filled with hardship and resonates with many Americans. Joe Biden knows what it feels like to feel true loss, and he knows how to push forward. After making it through all of these challenges, Joe Biden is now running for president and will win if we all do our part and vote for him.”

As a longtime Sanders supporter, it was important for Zenaida to cast that vote for his nomination.

To Zenaida, her support for Sanders is simple: “I support Bernie Sanders because I believe that working families deserve lives filled with dignity,” she told Mitú.

Among all demographics, Latinos in California suffer from the highest rates of poverty and Zenaida believes that Sanders’ policies will help uplift the most vulnerable among us. She says, “My grandparents and parents sacrificed so much for me to have a better life—yet, a better life is now out of reach for young Latinos. I support Bernie because he makes a better life within reach, not just for myself, but for my community.”

When asked about the importance of casting her vote for Sanders at the convention, Zenaida told Mitú, “Being part of the convention for the second time means that the progressive movement has been realized. Young people, particularly young Latinos, whose majority stood behind Bernie, were with him in 2016; they are with him in 2020; and they will continue to be an unmoved force in our party hereafter.”

Zenaida and her family have roots in the farm worker community and she sees Sanders as a true ally.

Zenaida remembers as a little girl attending labor marches and rallies with her father, who was a campaign manager for AFL-CIO in Los Angeles. She was moved by the thousands of people, standing together, united to make a difference.

But labor and community organizing runs deep in her family. Her grandfather, Juan Huerta, worked alongside Cesar Chavez as a United Farmworkers organizer. When asked about why he worked so hard for so little in return, Huerta told Zenaida, “It was a lot of work, but it was right.” These words guide Zenaida in her activism today. She told Mitú, “I am involved not just because I am one voice, but because I am one of many. I am following in my grandfather and father’s footsteps because I am continuing their struggle.“

Biden’s support in getting the Affordable Care Act (aka. ObamaCare) passed helped Anthony’s family in untold ways.

Like so many other Americans, healthcare is one of the most important issues our community faces. So many are unable to afford important medications or medical procedures, while others are simply too afraid to visit the doctor for fear of deportation. Therefore, it’s no surprise that healthcare is consistently rated among the most important issues to Latinos.

Anthony’s family has benefited from the ACA, which was signed under the Obama presidency with Joe Biden’s support. Anthony points out just how important this was to his family.

He says, “Joe Biden’s plan for healthcare was what I gravitated to most. My abuela was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer a few years ago, and thanks to the ACA she has been able to get affordable treatment and is doing very well today.”

Anthony and Zenaida are not alone: major parts of the progressive wing are coming together to support Biden’s campaign.

A progressive group that opposed Joe Biden in the Democratic primaries is rolling out a new campaign to urge progressive voters in battleground states to back the presumptive presidential nominee in November.

RootsAction.org, a group run by supporters of Bernie Sanders, launched its #VoteTrumpOut campaign Wednesday and said while it hopes to help push the former Vice President over the edge against President Trump, it will work to hold him accountable should he win the White House. 

“Donald Trump is waging a war on truth, on decency, on our planet, and on working people. For the sake of everything we care about, we have to get him out of the White House in 2020,” the group said on its website. “As progressives and leftists, we are not going to minimize our disagreements with Joe Biden. But we’re also clear-eyed about where things stand: supporting the Democratic nominee in swing states is the only means we have to defeat Trump.”

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Here’s Why AOC Nominated Bernie Sanders At the DNC Instead Of Joe Biden

Things That Matter

Here’s Why AOC Nominated Bernie Sanders At the DNC Instead Of Joe Biden

Handout / Getty

While speaking at last night’s Democratic National Convention, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took a daring stand for the progressive side of the Democratic Party. Speaking to viewers and voters, Ocasio-Cortez managed to take on the entire progressive agenda, explain it, and second the nomination of Sen. Bernie Sanders. All in 90 seconds flat. The nomination, which was strictly symbolic, saw Ocasio-Cortez encourage the Democratic establishment to listen to the progressive wing of the party as it continues to drive policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.

Despite the fact that Ocasio-Cortez’s nomination of Sanders was only symbolic, many were confused by the procedural seconding.

Sanders’ presidential run might have ended in April and he might have recently endorsed candidate Joe Biden, but the senator was still in line for Tuesday’s formal delegates count. It is required by the DNC that every presidential candidate who draws delegates to the party convention be formally nominated by someone. Ocasio-Cortez was tapped by the Democratic National Convention to second the nomination of Sanders for president.

During her convention time, Ocasio-Cortez celebrated Sanders for his works and the progressive efforts he’s backed in the name of the Democratic party.

Ocasio-Cortez’s speech spoke of a movement for progressives and highlighted policies like universal healthcare and free education.

“A movement striving to recognize and repair the wounds of racial injustice, colonization, misogyny, and homophobia and to propose and build reimagined systems of immigration and foreign policy that turn away from the violence and xenophobia of our past,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “A movement that realizes the unsustainable brutality of an economy that rewards explosive inequalities of wealth for the few at the expense of long-term stability for the many and who organized a historic grassroots campaign to reclaim our democracy.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s speech led the rest of the convention into the roll call process which officially named Joe Biden the Democratic nominee for president.

Ocasio-Cortez confirmed on Twitter that will be voting for Biden in November. So no need to worry.

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