The Hispanic and Latino community has an indomitable spirit, a weatherworn resiliency borne from generations of hardship, scarcity and political under-representation. It is a developed trait that enables our community to work hard, bide our time patiently, push persistently for self-improvement, and to be grateful for the breaks we do get.
You see it in the grit and resolve of the business owner who works 18 hour a day; the dishwasher who toils in the steamy and sticky backroom of a busy restaurant; the dependable dairy farm worker who cleans the stables with a noble smile day in and day out, and the farm-worker who sends a portion of his small paycheck to his family in Mexico. You see it in the store-owner who dreams of passing on his business to his child, and in the university student driven “to make it” so that his parents can be proud of his/her achievements.
My community all looks past their current condition dreaming someday they will go from subordinate to foreman, from employee to employer, from student to professional, or even from farm-worker to White House staffer (as it was in my case).
Americans award persistence and hard work. Unwearyingly, the Hispanic and Latino community pushes against all obstacles and limitations of cultural and language differences - and in many cases a lack of education - because the evidence of others like themselves reaping these awards abounds. I remember someone once said Hispanics are “the people of someday” – patiently enduring all because they know better days are just around the corner, and so they go through life “siempre aguantando”.
This persistence, this forbearance, has also been evident in the how much we have been willing in the past to wait on elected leaders to deliver on promises.
For some time now I have been leading The LIBRE Initiative, a national non-profit, non-partisan organization working to develop and advance ideas and policies that will best empower the U.S. Hispanic and Latino community to grow, thrive, and help them lead America to a healthier and freer economic future. It is my contention –and that of a majority of Americans—that that until Washington’s reckless and wasteful spending is controlled; we will not see a marked improvement of the current economic crisis.
This past week, I had the opportunity to hear from a group of Hispanics from Albuquerque, N.M. discussing their sentiments on matters dealing with the nation’s economic situation, in particular, public spending. Though this group was economically and socially diverse, the recurring frustration was that they saw the political partisanship and the party-first culture in Washington as the primary culprit for keeping the American people from the sound and effective policies they want and deserve.
Further, this group commented on a failure to reconcile political bickering which has made approving a responsible budget – one with no gimmicks, accounting tricks, and empty promises – an impossible fantasy to achieve. The group of Hispanics and Latinos broadly agreed with one participant who said that all Americans have had to tighten their belts and learn to do more with less, while the federal government has failed to make similar difficult choices. “They’re giving 500 million dollars to failed companies like Solyndra while many of us don’t have jobs” added the middle aged Latina woman markedly frustrated by the spending culture in Washington.
While the group was frustrated by Congress’ inability to reverse the spending, deficits and the growing national debt, only a scant few placed the blame directly on President Barak Obama even though he his budgets continuously compound the problems. “He’s trying” said a twenty something male participant, “but the Republicans want him to fail” he added exasperated. “The other side needs to stop playing politics and begin cooperating with the president so that he can make the changes he promised.”
Yet, others were showing signs of fatigue: “I have been disappointed in the way the President has failed to deliver on the promises he made” said one of the most senior participants of the group, “Instead of handing out favors to special interests, he should have done more to focus his efforts on allowing businesses to grow.”
It is noteworthy that about 23 of the 25 participants in the group admitted they had voted for President Obama in the last election, and although 8 to 10 said they were reconsidering their vote, the rest said they would be voting for him again. The same 22, 23 or so admitted they had voted for Sarah Martinez, a Republican, for governor of New Mexico because “she was not part of the good ol' boy system” said one. “She’s like one of us” said another.
Like the majority of U.S. Hispanics and Latinos, the group from Albuquerque was clear they like President Obama, they genuinely like him personally and many are still pulling for him to do well. They like him so much many will continue to wait for the promised change and say they are willing to overlook his inaction on immigration policy, the 10% unemployment rate for Hispanics, the spike in gas prices causing major pain and hurt, the 4 straight years of massive deficit spending, and the accused cronyism shown with his friends and supporters from Wall Street, green energy companies and lobbyists.
But that’s just it: How long can the lack of real results, ill-conceived policies which grow the burden on the private sector and inaction on past promises (Immigration?) continue until voters say enough? How long will Hispanics be patient with an Obama Administration focused more on paying off political favors to friends and supporters than on helping the small business owner?
Results from polling of the U.S. Hispanic and Latino community we will announce in Miami, FL next month indicate that despite the personal affection Hispanics have for the President it is becoming clear they’re patience is beginning to wear thin, and they are not willing to “aguantar” much longer.
Early results of the polling and focus groups tell us Hispanics are weary of the spending, the borrowing, the unfettered culture of cronyism in Washington, and the broken promises.
While we are exceptionally patient, like other Americans, we’re not patient forever. President Obama may soon learn the consequences of promising more than you can deliver, and not delivering more than what you promised.
Daniel Garza was formerly Associate Director at the Office of Public Liaison for The White House. He is currently the Executive Director of The LIBRE Initiative. You can learn more about The LIBRE Initiative by visiting their website at www.thelibreinitiative.com , liking their Facebook page “The LIBRE Initiative” or following them on twitter @libreinitiative