Victoria is a political scientist that got the political nerd bug in middle school student council. Today she hangs her hat at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and engages in political wonkiness on MSNBC, NBCNews.com, and Telemundo among others. more→
Victoria brings an interdisciplinary lens to understanding the politics, policies and people that shape our fascinating yet frustrating political landscape. Her areas of expertise include immigration, Latinos, women, political psych, & elections.
The proximate departure of Secretaries Solis and Salazar will represent a 0.0 level of Latino representation in President Obama’s top Cabinet posts.
For Latinos to not be at the table when it comes to the highest levels of leadership is wrong. Latinos are a large and growing national voice and we have a wealth of talented and experienced leaders to step up. So the easy answer is we need Latino voices at the table; the hard part is how many and in what positions.
But first, a little background.
As he was handed the phone, San Antonio county commissioner Albert Peña heard Bobby Kennedy on the other end asking for his help in getting the Latino vote. It was the summer of 1960, and the Kennedy presidential campaign was seeking the support of the Latino electorate in what later took the form of the first ever national Latino outreach, Viva Kennedy. Peña did not commit right away, but only after Bobby Kennedy accepted several conditions, one of which was considering Mexican Americans to high-level appointments in the new administration.
John F. Kennedy won that presidential election by the slimmest of margins, less than one percent of the total vote margin. And the states that had the closest vote margins, Texas, California, Illinois and New Mexico, were also the states that had extremely high Latino participation and support for JFK. However, by early 1961 it became painfully apparent to the Viva organizers that the appointment of Latinos to the administration had fallen off the radar.
It wasn’t until 1988 under the Reagan administration that the first Latino cabinet member, Lauro Cavazos, was named. Secretary of Education Cavazos stayed on with George Bush for a couple of years, but no new Latinos were appointed to the presidential cabinet.
Clinton’s administration marked a watershed in the role of Latinos in presidential administrations. He named three Latinos to his cabinet and named dozens of Latinos to administrative appointments. George W. Bush and then Barack Obama have followed a similar pattern, give or take a couple appointments.
Seems not a whole lot has changed in fifty years. Latinos provide a crucial electoral push but once in office, Latino appointments do not reflect their electoral effort. (more…)
Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has broken this cardinal rule three times in the last week. TMZ, the celebrity gossip site has actually bestowed the title of Mayor Suaveupon Villaraigosa.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Harvey Levin and the TMZ crew and right next to my POLITICO and RealClearPolitics phone app is my TMZ app. But, this is not where I should be going to read about my national leaders and this isn’t the first time Villaraigosa has been fodder for TMZ.
This TMZ episode speaks to a larger question about what the mayor’s legacy will be. Will it simply be that of a common Latino stereotype of the suave Latin lover? Or does Mayor Villaraigosa leave office this year with a legacy—a lasting political accomplishment akin to Mayor Giuliani’s cleaning up New York’s Times Square or Richard M. Daley making Chicago a global city.
The short answer is no. However this does not mean that he did not accomplish good things for America’s second largest city. During his eight years in office he has overseen an improved police department in a city infamous for problems for its police force. He has also streamlined the city’s bureaucracy by making it more accessible to the business sector while at the same time better connecting city agencies with the citizenry. (more…)