I can be trendy, too. I can use “SOTU” and “POTUS” just like the rest of the media.
That’s State of the Union and President of the United States, respectively, for you amateurs. And “SOST?” That’s my creation for State of South Texas– from San Antonio to Corpus to the Rio Grande Valley. (I can invent trendy acronyms too.)
Republicans started criticizing the SOTU speech even BEFORE he delivered it. Why? Oh, you forgot their motto: “Bring him down! Even if it brings America down. Don’t support anything he says or does!” It doesn’t matter if they show no respect for one of the great institutions of this great country—the Office of the President. Great show of responsible citizenship! That attitude will go far to teach our kids valuable lessons. SOST begs to differ.
SOST awaited, with the rest of the nation, President Obama’s eighth SOTU. It was his final speech, as directed by the U.S. Constitution (USCON?) It was, many agree, both personal and inspirational. He was cool and yet passionate. He was optimistic about the current state of affairs within the United States. He regretted, as most of us do, the increase in partisan division, making it more difficult to marshal the great power of the United States.
He had good reasons to be optimistic. He began with a quick list of accomplishments (his and ours). They included: Brought the country out of the Great Recession of 2008; Cut unemployment in half; “Brought the boys (and girls) home” from war; Brought more health care to more people. The President added: “Gasoline under $2.00, not so bad either.” No, not a bad list. He freely admitted “I couldn’t have done it alone;” and, “I wish I had the skills of a Lincoln or a Roosevelt” to persuade Congress for more cooperation about immigration reform or global warming. Yet, he sees hope for future work in a bi-partisan manner to fund and find a cure for cancer—our generation’s “Man on the Moon” project—as well as HIV and malaria.
South Texas shares these hopes for the future. South Texas supports the Constitution and respects the office of the President. South Texas has benefited from these accomplishments of the last eight years. Start with more and better health care, for one. Add general uptick in employment. Wages? Not so much. He tried with his “10-10” proposal; but remember? Republicans in Congress won’t budge. Not likely to raise wages. They even threaten to end health reforms if they regain the White House.
Republicans groused about things he didn’t mention—American sailors in Iranian hands for invading their waters. He didn’t because he and Secretary of State Kerry were working behind the scenes—diplomatically—to bring them back. And he did. His agreement with Iran, limiting nuclear research, paid off. Does he get points? From me he does.
POTUS got a bit “Bushy” reciting statistics about American economic strength and military might (greater than the next five nations combined). But the point he made (vs. those who “peddle fiction”—Trump, anyone?) is that we already are the greatest country on earth in those terms. The dangerous rhetoric of some candidates denigrates diversity and the principles underlying our democracy, thereby weakening the strength of our nation.
Even the Republican response by Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina admonished, without naming a name, the “loudest voice in the room” for his pandering rhetoric. Again, Trump, anyone? As a daughter of immigrants, even though she is often mentioned as a Vice-Presidential candidate, don’t count on that happening if Trump is the Republican nominee. His response: “I gave her money.” (Would you keep a friend like that? S/he loans or gives you money, and then you can’t constructively criticize them?)
Back to SOTU, POTUS and their connection SOST: The “state” of South Texas, economically, has not enjoyed as much of the benefits of reform and resurgence as the rest of the country. However, there are reasons to be optimistic. The area is over seventy percent Mexican American, the fastest growing ethnic group in the country. A vast majority of Mexican American voters prefer the Democratic Party. The famous Rio Grande Valley plus Austin are the only “blue” parts of Texas. Seventy percent voted for President Obama.
Most elections are close. If Mexican Americans registered and voted in the proportion as Anglos, Texas would become a Democratic state. But their loyalty will go far to help Democrats in other swing states, whomever the nominee may be. The chances are even greater should Secretary Clinton win the nomination and choose former Mayor of San Antonio (now Secretary of Housing and Urban Development), Julian Castro, as Vice-Presidential nominee for the Democrats.
A Haley or some other option as an ethnic or gender token Vice President for the Republicans just might not be enough to overcome the current lead among Mexican Americans, who know how important are Social Security, Medicare, Health Care and the (admittedly too weak) economic recovery for their present life and for their future.
Would Mexican Americans of South Texas be as excited about Senator Bernie Sanders, should he win the Democratic nomination? Perhaps even more so. They like his views on raising the minimum wage, on more affordable higher education and on supporting the ninety-nine percent vs the privileged one percent. Either choice—Clinton or Sanders—according to current polls (Quinnepiac) could achieve victory over an anti-Mexican, anti-immigrant, misogynic Trump or even over a Cuban American, such as Cruz or Rubio.
It will be interesting to see just how Republicans plan to woo SOST and Mexican Americans. It will be fascinating to see if current predictions of the growing influence of this valiant people come true. Can they do it by bad-mouthing a President so popular among Mexican Americans, attacking and rejecting any and all of his policies? Can they do it by promising NOT to raise the minimum wage; NOT to continue Affordable Health Care; NOT to do enough to reduce poverty and increase employment; NOT to continue to wield American power in a responsible, diplomatic way?
Young Mexican American men and women of South Texas and elsewhere have served, been wounded and have died in greater percentage numbers in war, fighting for the United States, than most other ethnic groups. Yes, they are patriotic. But, they are pragmatic. They understand the difference, as President Obama presented it in his State of the Union address, between wasteful military aggrandizement and carefully tailored military action, when necessity demands. “We, the People” of South Texas will rise and help shape the nation.