“Turkey or Guajolote?”
What is there to be thankful for this year? Depends on who you are.
If you are a Hispanic Democrat, you and the rest of the Democratic Party are licking deep wounds inflicted by the American people on November 4. The largest Republican House majority since 1947 will take office in January. A new Republican Senate will take over the Senate and relegate Nevada Senator Harry Reid – soon-to-be former Majority Leader of the Senate– to the ash heap of history.
Additionally, a Hispanic is poised to retire Reid forever in 2016.
If you are a Hispanic Democrat the New Year will dawn without a single Hispanic Democrat state governor (ever), without a single Hispanic Big City Mayor outside Los Angeles and without a single Hispanic Democrat in the congressional leadership. Congressman Ben Lujan of New Mexico who Minority House Leader Nancy Pelosi recently appointed to head the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee doesn’t count as leadership.
If you are a Hispanic Democrat you must live with political disasters that occurred in Nevada and Texas November 4 and what those disasters portend for the future.
In Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled all the strings to get a Hispanic state assembly member – Lucy Flores, former juvenile delinquent—nominated for Lt. Governor in an effort to keep ultra-popular Brian Sandoval from running against Reid for the U.S. Senate in 2016. Reid theorized that Sandoval wouldn’t run against him if he had to leave the governorship to a Democrat. She lost badly to a first term state Senator and is now out of office.
In Texas, Hispanic State Senator Leticia Van de Putte ran unopposed in the Democrat Primary for Lt. Governor, raised $7 million and was crushed by a Republican talk show host for the important post of Lt. Governor.
On the other hand, if you are a Hispanic Republican there are many accomplishments to be thankful for.
Hispanic Republican Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval received 70 percent of the vote to win re-election in a state that President Obama won in 2012. Only a dead and buried Democrat isn’t frightened that Sandoval will roll over Senator Harry Reid in slightly less than two years and retire Reid to counting his millions in “Sin City” Las Vegas. Of course, if the national Republican Party decides that Governor Sandoval might be the quintessentially victorious Vice-Presidential candidate in 2016, Reid might survive.
A Time Zone away to the east of Governor Sandoval is another Hispanic Republican Governor that Hispanic Republicans can be thankful for – Susana Martinez. She was re-elected with 57 percent of the vote in a deeply Blue Democrat state, New Mexico with a 40 percent Hispanic population. Nonetheless despite winning Hispanic votes she could not be elected governor without a heavy non-Hispanic vote. She has also been noticed by national Republicans.
An “inside baseball” Hispanic entry into congressional leadership is another accomplishment Hispanic Republicans can be thankful for this year. With little notice, Congressional Republican leadership has been joined by Congressman Bill Flores of Texas; he was elected Chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) formed by conservative Republican congressmen years ago to provide intellectual and political leadership in the Republican caucus. The caucus today is larger than it has been since 1947.
There are no Hispanics in Congressional Democratic leadership in either the House or the Senate. There are no Democrat Hispanics in the national political horizon like governors Brian Sandoval and Susana Martinez with the possible exception of former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro currently serving as Obama’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, a tertiary cabinet position.
With our languid economy showing promise of rescuing Hispanic workers from record high unemployment since 2008, Hispanics can look forward to a better year in 2015.
Hispanics can not only look forward to better times next year but can be thankful for what they have – less poverty, more work, more education, some political success and a growing population that will comprise 25 percent of the American population in another generation by the simple expedient of enjoying a Hispanic meal on Thanksgiving Day consisting of:
Corn that was developed by Indian agronomists in the Valley of Mexico thousands of years ago, potatoes (mashed, of course) that were developed by Peruvian Indians, sweet potatoes that originated in Maya Indian Yucatan, Mexico, pumpkins (AKA winter squash), that are probably also native to Mexico (if one likes PEPITAS, roasted pumpkin seeds) and a turkey, the large bird domesticated by Mexican Indians so long ago the giant birds forgot how to fly.
The Mexican Indians named the turkey, GUAJOLOTE (wah-ho-loh-teh).
When the Hispanic traditional Thanksgiving meal is finished, tequila with lime and salt while watching football can top off the day as a salute to the passing year and those to come.
Contreras formerly wrote for the New America News Service of the New York Times