(Ed. Note: I know exactly when Senator Clinton lost my vote - 2002, when she voted to authorize force and invade Iraq. For Ms., it was the uninvited visit by Antonio Villaraigosa and Henry Cisneros that spurred a 3 day switch to Obama. She has since re-committed to voting for Hillary Clinton, but only after taking a week to calm down. Here is her inaugural post. The blogospere just got smarter!)
One day last week, all of us Harris County Tejano Democrats gathered for our endorsement meeting, otherwise known as the never ending procession of judicial candidates. The room was packed and stuffy, and there was a cake waiting to be cut and eaten in the back. Needless to say, I was anxious for things to get going. However, my hopes for a fast and painless meeting were dashed when there were whispers that Henry Cisneros was coming in. Let’s just say that my reaction to this was closer to when I was forced to visit the petroleum museum as a child than when I got to hear Ann Richards speak for the first time. (Just to be clear, I still have nightmares about my field trips to the petroleum museum, and I consider Ann Richards one of my personal heroines.)
If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m not a fan of Henry Cisneros, for several reasons, and I didn’t take kindly to having my evening made longer by having to listen to him, yes him, tell me why I should vote for the candidate I was already supporting.
But then it got worse…so much worse.
As he began to speak, Cisneros announced that Antonio Villaraigosa, the “media relations specialist” that currently serves as the mayor of Los Angeles, was on his way in. That’s when I started to really lose it, especially when I realized that Dolores Huerta had walked in with him and was then relegated to the corner while Cisneros and Villaraigosa patted each other on the back and proceeded to take 45 minutes of my life that, as La Sandra would say, I will never get back. Neither of them even bothered to acknowledge Huerta’s presence or let her speak, that is until they were both done with their dog and pony show. I guess each was temporarily blinded by the other’s overwhelming charisma (yes, that’s me gagging) and just forgot to introduce a true living legend that has done more to help Hispanics in this country than either Cisneros or Villaraigosa could ever hope to.
Let me try and explain why I was so offended and insulted that the Clinton campaign sent these two in to try and win my vote (which, again, she already had):
- This is the best that we can do? These are the Hispanic public officials that are supposedly going to motivate and influence me to go out and serve the public and also vote for Hillary Clinton? A convicted felon and a mayor that found time in his busy schedule to have an affair with the political reporter that covered his administration? Are you freaking kidding me?
- Dolores Huerta was the only one that should have been allowed to speak. This is a woman that has dedicated her life to helping others, to giving a voice to those that don’t have one, to making this country a better and more democratic place, to righting the wrongs that are so pervasive in our society, to working toward social justice. She’s done all of this without any fancy titles, without any self-interest, without the need for constant public adoration or recognition, without the need to dominate anyone or anything, without an oversized ego, and without a campaign account and staff. Yet, somehow, she was the one that was in the corner that ended up speaking for only a couple of minutes once the other two had given me a headache.
- Both of these men just assumed I wanted to listen to them speak. Can anyone say sense of entitlement? They assumed they have something to say that is worth listening to, that they have some positive influence over me, and that I have a shred of respect for either one of them. Worst of all, they assumed that they are somehow Hispanics the rest of us look up to. Well, they assumed wrong.
- If Cisneros and Villaraigosa had been female public officials with the same histories, would they still be allowed to have political careers and would they be held up as role models for the rest of us? Would they be out stumping for a presidential candidate? I think we all know the answer to those questions.
I know some people say the personal lives of politicians shouldn’t affect their public roles, and I agree. The problem with these two is that they are the ones that allowed their personal lives to adversely affect their roles as public officials. How much time did their “dalliances” take away from their focus on their public duties? How much of the government’s time and money was spent dealing with this negative attention considering that media reps and public information officers cost money? How much time did investigators spend looking into the false statements Cisneros gave them? How much time and energy did Villaraigosa and his administration spend trying to undue the damage of his scandal that could have been dedicated to the real needs of the people of Los Angeles? How much of the headway Hispanics like Dolores Huerta have made did they compromise, considering Hispanics (like all minorities) are held to different standards and face different hurdles than our Anglo counterparts?
My fundamental question, as I feverishly text messaged other people also on the verge of exploding during the meeting, was simply the following: Does Hilary Clinton really think so little of me, my intelligence, and my fellow Hispanics that she sent these two sorry excuses for public servants in to speak to me and to convince me that they know what’s best for all of us? I don’t care if they are Hispanic-they are an embarrassment.
In the rush of the text messages being sent back and forth, I may even have told some Obama supporters that I was moving over to their side. Actually, I did say that...and more. Nonetheless, I will probably still support Clinton because she is my preferred candidate. It was a close call, but if Dolores Huerta is willing to support her, I figure I should take that into consideration before letting Cisneros and Villaraigosa affect my decision. After all, her opinion does mean something to me.