Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine won raucous approval from the 4,766 delegates to the 2016 Democratic National Convention when he took a rhetorical detour form his script to address the 747 Latino delgates in Philadelphia.
Kaine, who learned Spanish during a year teaching welding and other skills in Honduras, spoke about the values he found in the people there — “Fe, familia, y trabajo” ( “Faith, family, and work.”) Values, he said, that are shared by Latinos in the United States today.
Some Republicans, whose presidential candidate Donald Trump has campaigned on a platform that includes construction of a wall along the US border with Mexico to bar Central Americans from crossing into the United States, were less happy with Kaine’s foray into Spanish.
“I’m hoping I’m not gonna have to kinda start brushing up on my Dora the Explorer to understand some of the speeches given [at the DNC],” said one.
But the reality is that both political parties, as well as most businesses, service agencies, public schools and colleges and universities have recognized that Latinos represent a big and growing part of the population.
And Latinos will soon play an even more important role in the US economy and political system, as the importance of education and educational attainment rise in a population that long has lagged.
More than 8 of 10 Latinos say that education will be a major factor in how they vote this year, and the dropout rate among Latinos is falling, Meanwhile, college enrollment for this group is on the rise.
And that means higher expectations, more family formation and increased earning power.
— BARBARA LeBLANC