By Linda Vega
I had expected the calls and emails, but not this soon and certainly not by the close friends who came to offer the Olive Leaf in a call for peace. The victory by Ted Cruz on July 31, 2012 was a surprise, but not a shock. Cruz had been leading in the polls and had sowed the seeds of influence in the past few years. He ran a tough campaign and had an army, sometimes controversial, that was by all accounts a large and effective one. He spoke to the many who harbored ill feelings toward the GOP and wanted a change for something different, that is yet to be defined.
I stayed silent for the most part after the victory until this weekend. When I sat with some of my close attorney friends who spoke to me with a respectful dialogue, that of course, I couldn’t help listen to out of respect to them and the mantra of peace that I often quote. What astounded me was that three people, whom I respect a great deal, were honest enough to tell me that they supported and two voted for Ted Cruz. It was a truth dialogue that I didn’t expect, and certainly not from these individuals. The meetings were with a great emphasis on how we are looking at the voters in the Southwest, specifically those 2.3 million Latino registered voters who didn’t care to come out. These friends, two Conservative Democrats and anti-Obama and the third a long time GOP mentor for over twenty years, had strong sentiments for a new direction for Texas.
The two Conservative Democrats wanted Cruz to win because they know him and, according to them, Cruz knows Washington. One of them was not interested in immigration, but both were interested in the economy of Texas. They see Cruz as ambitious and someone who will say what he means even if the listener does not agree with his point of view, and that is what energized these two voters one of whom was willing to cross over and vote for him. Neither of these two Democrats even mentioned Cruz’s Cuban background or his lack of experience in holding public office. They are comfortable with the fact that they “know” him and they are counting on his fighting spirit to help the energy industry, period.
Moreover, one of them saw the Dewhurst ads as being anti-attorney and that didn’t sit well with many of my attorney friends either. When Dewhurst attacked Cruz for being a litigator who defended foreign corporations, attorneys saw that as an insult to their profession. Lawyers defend clients who are “allegedly” guilty because that is their job. I saw it in birds-eye as protecting Texas, but I couldn’t argue that the fight for energy is about protecting Texas.
My GOP mentor stated the obvious, “isn’t getting a good qualified Latino what we are aiming for in this election cycle?” “Yes sir,” was my response, “but one who is eyeing the future of the Southwest and that includes Latinos with respectful dialogue toward their contribution.” We have to start somewhere then, and so here is the beginning for that in Texas, according to my friend.
As I ponder about what had just occurred in my beloved Texas, I am still trying to find a sound reason as to why the voters, who bear the responsibility more than the campaign managers or the political parties, managed to stay silent during elections, especially Latinos. How do Latinos want to advance in representation if they do not come out and vote? Policies that affect Texas, affect Latinos who are 4 million eligible voters in a population of a 25 million total. And yet, the experienced candidate didn’t prompt those Latinos voters to defend “one of their own”—a native Texan and Republican loyalist who pushed many education policies that have benefited many young Latino students in the state. Instead, out of 1.1 Million Republicans that voted, 631,000 voted for a candidate with little or no experience, and thereby, decided the representation for those 25 million in Texas. Many cannot seem to fathom the implication of that victory which means that those 23 million (minus the amount of Dems.) have little reason to complain at this point because they didn’t speak up with their vote.
The controlling participants are those who are involved, informed, and who are unfortunately aging. Politicians are getting elected by the small but powerful group whose needs are being met because they VOTE! Moreover, those who do not participate (the large base of about 23 million) should be prepared to accept that those policies and laws will not be passed with their interest in the least. An example of this, is Medicare, the large portion of entitlements that cost a fortune to sustain.
Latinos and their need, for education and economic opportunities, will be dismal because of their apathy in participation. Their silence is acceptance and an acquiescence of this process.
In Texas those over the age of 65 were 25% and those living over the age of 85 were 28% in ten years. Between 2000 and 2010, the population grew at a 9.6% rate. We are living longer and are not populating at a rate that will produce good workers. Our work pool, then, will shrink and we will have an upside down pyramid that will give us an aging population with little or no workforce to pay into our entitlement system.
If elected to the U.S. Senate, Cruz must help to find solutions for this deficit and the growing Medicare payout. If he fails to cooperate with those looking for solutions and stand with those who will create gridlock, the U.S. will accelerate the economic decline already on the brink.
In turn, Latinos who do not participate will not be adequately represented in any political arena. Their hard work will go toward sustaining those entitlement programs that may cease to exist by the time that they retire. They will be silent participants who will understand, much too late, that they had the power to change this outcome with their vote.
As I looked at the victories, the voter turnout, and waited for my friend to finish his peace offering, I had to ask the obvious, how do we make this a learning experience? “Just like this, with a sit down dialogue that asks the tough questions and we better be able to sustain the painful truth, which is that Latinos just don’t want to participate at this point.” I personally think that Latinos are waiting for a signal. They are waiting for a hero, who may not be ready to step up and lead out that Latino Voter. In the next two years that person must be couragreous enough to step up to the podium and lead because as it appears now, our time is running out.