Thursday, September 13, 2012

Perspective: GOP grooming Latinos, not Dems

Opinion: Republicans are grooming Latino leaders, Dems are not
by Jaime Rojas Jr. for NBCLatino

We saw this week the Democratic National Convention and its sea of diversity among its delegates on the Convention floor, a very stark contrast to the Republican National Convention faces we saw on television the week before. But behind the scenes, I see a very different picture regarding the grooming of Latino leadership for the future of American politics.

The Democrats paint a party of the “people” who represents the last frontier to protect what’s left of the American middle class. At the DNC, they showcased their Latino leadership. We saw my mayor, Antonio Villariagosa, prominently displayed as the chairman of the Convention. Julian Castro, the mayor of San Antonio, is billed as the rising Latino star in the Democratic Party.

The RNC, on the other hand, spotlighted their chosen ones too: Congressman Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and Governor Susanna Martinez of New Mexico. So we ask: “Which political party is really grooming our future Latino leadership?” My short answer is….the Republican party. Here is why: The Democrats, with all their fanfare of diversity, really has no real infrastructure on a national or state level focused on grooming Latino leadership. Since Latinos just happen to make a large number in their party, really by default they have taken some leadership roles. And if you think about it, Democratic Latinos are not really in too many high level positions like governors or senior ranking congresspersons, considering the number of Latinos in the party.

The reason is simple. The Democratic Party has a “union” mentality when it comes to grooming its next leadership. You have to start practically at birth as a member of the Party and promote your way up the ladder, until it’s your time to eventually lead. Being from California, that process and mentality is obvious with the State Democrats and the union machine. So what real chance does a young Latino have of high level leadership in the Democratic Party, if they don’t follow this “promotional” leadership process…none.

The Republicans surprisingly enough, invested last year, on the national level into a fund specifically to identify and groom 100 top Latino leaders for the Party. Impressive? Well, the fund only started with less than 2 million dollars, which in today’s economy is not much, but it’s a start. For the first time we heard not just one but two Latinos, Congressman Marco Rubio and Governor Susanna Martinez on the short list for Vice President! We recently saw Congressman Ted Cruz come in and shock everyone with his win in Texas. He had some support (money) of the RNC too.

I believe the Republican party has the better chance of grooming and possibly delivering Latino political leaders that actually will not only look like us, but also represent us appropriately. Believe it or not, Latinos’ beliefs are very similar to those of the GOP: family, fiscal conservancy, small government, and support of entrepreneurship and business. Yes, I know, shocking but very true. With our potential voting power, Latinos can vote into office (or take out of office) the right candidate to represent and act on our legislative needs. What is good for Latinos is good for America…and what is good for America is good for Latinos!

The Latino community must continue investing in ourselves and believe that our time is here now. We must support leadership-training beginning with our youth, and support national organizations like the National Hispanic Institute, based out of Texas, who go after our cream of the crop of Latino youth and train them to think like leaders and entrepreneurs. At the end of the day, it is our responsibility, no one else’s, to train, groom and support America’s future leadership! Let’s all take this call for action….it is really the American thing to do, no que no?

Jaime Rojas Jr. worked for The White House’s Office of Public Liaison and Latino outreach for President Bill Clinton, and for The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. He is also the former President and CEO of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce (CHCC) and he wrote his first book in 2011 titled, “The Conservative’s Pocket Constitution.” Follow Jaime on Twitter @Jaime_Rojas

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