While most political attention lately has been focused on the high drama in Washington DC a more fundamental and important shift is occurring in Latino/a electoral districts nation wide. A great Latino wake has formed behind the clipper ship known as the Barrack Obama presidential campaign.
All over the country I have been hearing from and about young Latina/o Democratic and independent candidates who are readying themselves for upcoming election cycles. The candidates were either directly involved in the Obama campaign or participated, as millions did, in individual efforts that culminated in the Obama victory.
While most of the thirty-something and under crowd are completely unaffiliated to any of their local Democratic political machines, or are only tangentially tied to them, a few have already received embraces (most awkward) from Latino leadership. Those candidates who have not been already embraced by their local senior Latino leadership are in the process of attaching themselves to wider political coalitions.
Probably the most successful so far in building mainstream Democratic support is the most unlikely of the "Great Latino Wake", an openly gay Latino who was formerly a registered Republican, Robert Garcia. Garcia is running for City Council in Long Beach, CA. Garcia is a center- left Democrat who has taken his local district by storm garnering the support of the strongest local Democratic political machine while remaining fresh and independent. (BTW the machine supporting Garcia is not a Latino apparatus.) Garcia is also the first of the Great Latino Wake to face the ballot box. On April 7th voters will decide whether to hand over some of the power of the 5th largest city in California, home to one of the worlds largest ports, to Garcia, a 31 year old Latino who proudly wears his immigrant roots on his sleeve.
Should Garcia win, and odds are more than slightly in his favor, he will not only take his local community by storm but he will inspire the dozens of younger Latino/a's preparing for their campaigns.
While in some areas, notably Denver CO, senior Latino political leadership are warmly welcoming the young brood other Latino political landscapes are not behaving quite as hospitably. But the participants in the Great Latino Wake having witnessed the insurgent campaign of Barrack Obama are neither surprised nor dissuaded by the cold shoulder.
While many in Latino politics will constantly remind non Latinos who would discourage us that "demographics is destiny" we as veteran political Latinos must also not forget that so is the timing of those demographics.
Timing and demographics have finally crossed paths. The next five years are the next chapter in American Latino political history and Robert Garcia becomes the first shot across the bow for a new generation of Latino political leadership.
Mario Solis-Marich is a progressive radio talk show host that can be heard Sunday through Friday at www.GoToMario.com. If you would like to support Robert Garcia and the beginning of the Great Latino Wake you can go to his site by clicking here and making a donation.