It has to have crossed the minds of Antonio Villaraigosa, Julian Castro, Bill Richardson or any of the Latino Democrats who have been mentioned as one day becoming “America’s first Hispanic president,” that their interest is best served if Barack Obama loses in November.
That scenario would immediately open the Democratic Party’s presidential jockeying for 2016 with these built-in advantages:
In 2016 the Democratic nominee would be running the party out of power and would not be responsible for the bad economy and high unemployment that—let’s face it—might still be there in four years. If lucky, the U.S. will not be going through what Greece and other countries are now experiencing.
After the unenthusiastic following this year from the monumental letdown of all the great Obama expectations, the Democratic Party would have four years to renew the euphoria with some new Hope and Change mantra, possibly “Get America Dreaming Again.”
Democrats would be in a position to capitalize on four more years of legal immigration and the possibility that this year’s 12 million expected Hispanic voters would turn into 18 to 20 million by 2016.
The trick will be rounding up all the Latino Democrats who became active for Obama in 2008 and again this year and team them up with the legions of Dreamers who are out there just waiting for someone to truly champion their cause.
If the back-to-back presidential conventions this year have shown anything it is that the national news media has had to witness the emergence of Latinos from both parties and has become attuned to the demographic transformation in the country.
Hispanic politics, moreover, has transcended party politics. The presence of Republicans Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Susana Martinez and Brian Sandoval has shown what is possible—and this in a party that is supposedly not friendly to Latinos.
If that’s the case and I were a Democratic big shot, I’d worry about what a friendly Republican Party would look like—and I’d start making sure my party got there first.
These Republican politicians may just have done for Hispanic politics what Noah did for shipbuilding.
Hispanics like Antonio and Julian have to know this, as does Richardson, the former New Mexican governor, who wanted the nomination in 2008 and has a following in California and the other states where he campaigned.
For Richardson especially, 2016 is important. He will be 68 at the time, and realistically it would likely be his last chance.
Villaraigosa will be 63, and his travels as an Obama surrogates along with his chairing the Democratic convention have expanded his name recognition.
Castro will be 41 in 2016. He seems too young and doesn’t really have any experience except being mayor of a weak-mayor city. But Obama lowered the bar for experience offset with a lofty speech-making ability, and Castro has shown that he’s certainly capable of doing that.
Of course, 2016 would also give Secretary of State Hillary Clinton another opportunity, but she faces a ton of questions about American policy abroad, not to mention some pretty shady stuff from the White House years that Obama never exploited in 2008 but the Republicans would have had she won the nomination—and anyone wanting the 2016 nomination will too.
Odd as it may seem, if Obama loses this election, he may ultimately do for Hispanics more than he ever did in the White House.