By Brent E. Beltrán
Sometimes we get caught up in it all, including myself. I voted for Barack Obama again. The only times I voted Democrat for president was for this man. In previous elections I voted third party, either Green or Peace and Freedom. I think the re-election of President Obama was a good thing. Not a great thing (I have a buttload of issues with his presidency, far too many to go into here). The alternative though, electing corporate stooge Mitt Romney, would have been terrible for nonwhites, the poor and working class, women, and gays and lesbians. Unfortunately, the status quo remains. Fortunately, it didn’t get worse. In Barrio Logan, the song remains the same.
In my neighborhood, the day after the election was the same as the day before the election. And the day before that and the day before that. And tomorrow it will be the same. Nothing changed. Most of my neighbors went back to work at low paying service jobs. Back to watching other people’s children or back to cleaning other people’s homes. Some didn’t even go back to work because there is no work to go back to. The youth went back to inferior schools. Adults took the trolley or the bus to wherever they needed to go because they can not afford a car. Or they can’t get a license because of their immigration status.
The number one issue facing my community is the lack of comprehensive immigration reform. Thousands within Barrio Logan and Logan Heights alone are undocumented. Millions more across the country. Most of us are either undocumented ourselves or have family members, friends and/or acquaintances who are. Though Obama promised during his first election campaign to push for comprehensive immigration reform nothing happened. He decided not to take on the issue during his first term. I don’t lay complete blame on him though. An intransigent Republiklan lead House of Representatives and a filibuster happy Republiklan minority Senate lays mostly at fault. If he pushed the issue they would have shut him down and used it as a tool to prevent his reelection. I understand politics. I recognize he had no choice.
I, and millions more, appreciated Obama’s presidential directive halting the deportation of potential DREAM Acters. Yet, we also recognize that under his presidency his administration has deported more undocumented people than any other administration since records were kept on deportation. More in his first year than George W. Bush in his eight years! He has spoken out of the side of his mouth when it comes to this issue.
I used to be a staunch pessimist. I always gave the negative the doubt of the benefit. These last couple years my thinking has changed somewhat. I got remarried. Had my first child at forty years old. Somehow, through my wife and child, optimism cracked through my pessimistic soul. It’s just a crack. But it’s an opening. So I’m gonna try and be a little optimistic when it comes to Obama pushing full ahead on immigration reform. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to him saying that he’ll make an effort on this issue.
Latinos were the only group that voted more for him this election cycle than in 2008. Ten percent of this election’s electorate were Latinos. Up from 9%. The majority overwhelmingly voted for Obama. Every month 50,000 more Latinos reach voting age. That’s 600,000 per year! In 2016 there will be over 2.4 million more potential young Latino voters. Because of the prejudicial and bigoted views of the Republiklan Party most of these potential voters will end up on the Democratic side of the ballot. There’s no denying now the potential of the Sleeping Giant. The Giant sleeps no more. We are awake and we vote. And we demand that our needs be met as much as any other group in the US. And our priority is comprehensive immigration reform and the passing of the DREAM Act.
I’m optimistic that Obama is gonna push for it. And push for it hard. We overwhelmingly voted for him and now it’s time for him and the Democrats to step up. I’m not optimistic that the Republiklans will support it. Therefore, preventing passage in the House and stopping it in the Senate through the punk ass maneuver of the filibuster. But that is on them. If they want to remain the party of the rich, corporate, southern and bible belt white male then so be it. The demographics are changing and their party will soon be irrelevant.
Obama and the Democrats need to show that they are willing to struggle on behalf of this issue. If it ultimately fails, our community at least will see the Democrats willingness to fight for us. Something we haven’t seen from them. We are no longer a community that can be taken advantage of. Our political power is growing. It grows through the ballot box and in the streets where I, and many more like me, cut our political teeth. Pete Wilson and Proposition 187 were our malicious political stepfathers and their ungrateful stepchildren now demand to be heard. And I think they finally hear us. But if they don’t, or if they choose not to listen, they will hear us when we are the majority and take our grievances to the streets.
The day after the election may have been just another day in Barrio Logan. But that day will soon change.
Brent E. Beltran is a third generation pocho that lives next door to Chicano Park in San Diego’s Barrio Logan. He’s the former publisher of Calaca Press, is married to his dreaming heart watcher and is the proud father of a baby dinosaur. He’s an MMA junkie who likes to get his nerd on by watching superhero and sci-fi movies/tv shows while he’s not shouting at Republiklans for being blatant assholes and Democratas for being spineless chumps. He can be contacted through his Twitter handle @CalacaVato.