In 1960, recognizing that a majority of the Latino population in the United States was born in the U.S. and, hence, citizens, Mexican American activists built on their previous decades of local political activism and sought to represent a shared voice in presidential election between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon.
Toward that end, Mexican Americans created Viva Kennedy clubs to mobilize the Latino vote for the Democratic nominee. When he won the election by less than 113,000 votes–less than the number of registered Mexican American voters–activists expected to be rewarded with a smal share of political clout for the issues facing their communities. They were not. It would be after mid-decade when Lyndon B. Johnson became the first president to even use the word “Mexican American” in a presidential speech.
The campaign of Hillary Clinton may be walking down the same road. I fear that their dwindling concern for Latino voters–now that they have faced all the primaries in “Latino states”–is an indicator of how they will consider Latinos once in office. We are useful for getting elected, but not part of their overall vision of who is America.
Ruben Navarrette Jr. offered some thoughts on these issues in a wonderful opinion piece this week. You can read the article here.