Election 2008 a soapbox for Latino voices

By Bertha Serrano

I have never anticipated an election night as much as I did this past one, and I’m pretty sure most of the people in this country felt the same way.

As I stood in Grant Park watching the live broadcast from CNN, I anxiously waited to hear the next projection about how close now President-Elect Barack Obama was to winning the election and making history. All the long hours I stood there paid off when I realized Obama won.

Like many Latinos in this country, I hoped the next president would be a Democrat. I couldn’t stop myself from cheering when the CNN reports mentioned the outcome of the voter demographics. As the numbers were coming through and all the data were being analyzed, they kept repeating two words: Latino vote. The many that claim Latinos didn’t care about this country and didn’t vote were proved wrong.

According to The Associated Press, McCain tried to win support of the Latino community through his views on the military and anti-abortion stance because many Hispanics are overseas fighting. But the results proved he was unsuccessful. About two-thirds of Hispanic voters voted for Obama.

The Obama campaign made sure to reach out to the Latino community in swing states like Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Nevada. The efforts paid off because all of these states that went blue were initially red in the 2004 election, and it is safe to say the Latino vote had a lot to do with it.

According to the latest CNN exit poll summary, Latino voters in Colorado made up 13 percent of the overall voters, and out of those 13 percent, 61 percent voted for Obama. In Florida, 14 percent of the voters were Latino, and 57 percent voted for Obama. In Nevada, 76 percent of voters supported Obama. New Mexico showed Latinos were 41 percent of the voters, and 69 percent of those votes went for Obama.

This is huge news for us throughout the country because these states were a crucial part of the election, and it means that we’re growing in power and numbers.

According to the Almanac of Latino Politics 2008, 80 percent of the Latino population is concentrated in 10 states. In 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated 1.9 million Latinos living in Illinois-an increase of 70.2 percent from 1990.

As far as politics go, Latinos currently hold offices in 44 states including one governor and one mayor. A new person to add to the list is Anita Alvarez, the first Hispanic woman to serve as the Cook County’s top prosecutor. It’s a great step for women and even more of one for Latinas like me. It shows that we can break the stereotypes and that Latinas can be more than just stay-at-home mothers.

I’m waiting to see what changes will come with Obama as the new president. His views on immigration seem promising because he believes in a path for citizenship for those who have been here for years. Unlike other politicians, he doesn’t see illegal immigrants as a threat.

He also voted for theDevelopment, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which is a bill that has failed to pass. It would give undocumented high school students who have been in the country for five years and plan on going to college or serving in the armed forces the opportunity. to become permanent residents.

These next four years will hopefully be better than the way things are today. I don’t see how our economy can get any worse. I have never felt so proud of my race, and it’s great to see that this election can prove our impact in this country.