(The sorry state of politics in the Chicano community)
By: Herman Baca, President
Committee on Chicano Rights
The 2006 elections are over! President George Bush and his Republicans party have righteously lost mainly because of voter’s opposition to the war in Iraq. Democrats have reaped the benefits by winning both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. As for the Chicano community the political question remains, how did we fare politically with the elections? Did we remain the same, go backwards, or move forward?
The question has to be put in context. I remember when I first got involved (1968) in Chicano politics with the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) that their was one elected Chicano in the state legislature, Assemblyman Alex Garcia from Los Angeles, and in San Diego County one elected person of Mexican ancestry, Councilman Louie Camacho from National City.
To further answer the above question, we should look at what happened in National City, California (my home town) because as I have stated in the past: it is a microcosm of what is going to happen in California in the not to distant future.
National City, like most cities in California with large Chicano populations, is an old city, the oldest after San Diego proper. Also as will be the case in California the majority population (65%) is of Mexican ancestry, and Anglos with 20% of the population the minority. Economically, NC is the poorest in San Diego’s County and suffers from some of the worst social, economic and political conditions. Like most Chicano communities in California those conditions include, unaccountable politicians, the highest crime rate, worst police community relations, housing, recreational services, youth and senior problem, to name a few.
Politically, the city government is presently controlled by “Hispanics” Mayor, Nick Inzunza and City Council persons, Louie Natividad, Frank Parra, and Rosalie Zarate. However as is the case in other Chicano communities in California, the Anglo minority continues to control National City’s economy, politics and “Hispanic” politicians. Reasons for this are the massive economic power of police, firemen, city unions, Chamber of Commerce, Mile of Cars, builders, developers, and lobbyists, most who do not reside in the city. These outside interests control politically by providing contribution to “go along” His-her-panic politicians, while the right wing pro-business Republican controlled San Diego Union endorses and props them up.
So the question remains, have Chicano communities such as National City’s and others in California after 38 years of fighting issues, registering people, fielding candidates, campaigning for and against propositions, recalls etc, gone backwards, remained the same, or moved politically forward after Tuesday’s election?
In my opinion, after 38 years of political involvement and reviewing Tuesday’s election results, we are going backwards!
In California, Ex. Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante, a candidate for Insurance Commissioner, who was the first Chicano to be elected to statewide office in the last 125 years, was the only Democrat to lose state wide office by being soundly defeated! With Bustamante’s defeat, California’s Chicanos, 35% of the state population are now left without representation in California state wide elected offices. In other words, back to the 60’s!
Locally, especially in National City the political answer is even more conclusive. National City Chicano community after Tuesday’s election is witness to the unbelievably political spectacle of “Hispanic” politicians, the mayor (run out of office after being accused of being a slum lord), and 3 “Hispanic” council persons handing political leadership over to an Anglo, (elected Mayor Ron Morrison) who represents 20% of the population.
While there is nothing wrong with a qualified Anglo (with a track record) of serving and leading the majority population, the historical political fact is that the Chicano community has never been politically represented. Whether newly elected Mayor Ron Morrison proves to be different remains to be seen.
Other troublesome voting factors in Tuesday’s election were: only 33% of NC 15,901 registered voters (4875) bothered to vote, and the arrogant attitude of “Hispanic” mayoral candidates who refused to respond to questions, or state their positions on issues to a survey forwarded by our organization.
With the low voter turn out, the above attitudes, and lackadaisical campaigns of the out of touch “Hispanic” candidates, Anglo Mayoral candidate Ron Morrison cruised to an easy victory. One that will now allow him to govern National City, with barely a 12% mandate out of 15,901 registered voters!
Other regional races involving “Hispanics” provided the same disastrous results. In Chula Vista (a community with a heavy population of persons of Mexican ancestry) first time Mayor Steve Padilla got handily beat by right wing Republican Cheryl Cox. In Escondido two racist incumbent councilpersons, Marie Widman and Dick Daniels who supported the racist anti Mexican can’t rent to Mexicans ordinance cruised to an easy victory. This in spite of a valiant effort by Ms. Olga Diaz who received only 15% of the vote in a city where the population of persons of Mexican ancestry is close to 50%!
Even though their was some political success at the lower levels of the political chain (school boards, council seats, etc.) it should be obvious by the disastrous election results that if even though our population has increased by leaps and bounds, our political involvement, astuteness and representation has not. At best we are living politically with the illusion of inclusion, and at worst appear to be returning back to the 1960’s! Time for La Raza Unida Party?