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Impact of the 2008 Election on the Hispanic Population

United States presidential election has seen a very diverse group of supporters who greatly influenced the outcome of the voting process. The election of 2008 showed how a minority group can have a great impact on the result. Barack Obama was chosen as the new president of the United States of America. He has received a large amount of support from the Hispanic population. This led him to change the attitude of many people towards Hispanics. Obama has put in place several changes that benefit his followers. In turn, he continues to receive the support of his loyal Hispanic voters.

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The 2008 presidential election can be considered a major historical event, as the percentage of the Hispanic population that voted for Obama was the highest ever. The total amount of the Hispanics who voted for the new president made up 67% of all Latino population. This happened because Obama was involved with the racial minorities for some time. Before the election of 2008, Barack Obama has been actively involved in the politics and the policies that influenced the rising Hispanic population. He believed that it was important that all people who live in America are considered as one, everyone having a fair share of the rights and freedoms. His goal was to unite all the people and get rid of the division, so that the whole nation consists of Americans and not Hispanics, Blacks and Whites. The biggest amount of the Latino population that voted for Obama was in Florida. He has received the support of 57% of the Hispanic population. This is a turn in the other direction, as the Latinos have been favoring the republican presidential candidates, as happened with Bush in the year 2004. In New Jersey Barack Obama has received 78% of the votes, in Nevada 76% and California 74%. Another statistic shows that a great amount of the voters were female and their influence on other voters in general was very significant (Carr 180).

Such an amount of support for Obama happened for several reasons. The Hispanic population is in great need of better education for their families, better healthcare, and jobs. Obama’s goal was to change the policies in a way that would favor the Hispanic population and create an equal opportunity for everyone. For example, during the Bush administration, there was a program called “No Child Left Behind”, which was directed at bettering the education and providing an opportunity for Hispanic children to get high quality and respective education. But in reality, this did not happen, as the schools were hit with taxes and other penalties that decreased the opportunities, instead of creating them. This created an outrage because the Hispanic community believed George Bush and gave him their support. When the promises were not kept Latinos were disappointed in the government and started to pay more attention to the elections themselves and people who were presenting their candidacy. There were fears that with the election of the new president in 2008, their support will be less significant, as before they were very supportive but the promises made were not kept. As the next president, Obama was also a supporter of Hispanic civil rights, immigration and economic empowerment. An important aspect that was included in his campaigns was the creation of more accessible positions in politics for Hispanics and particularly women. He acknowledged that the political stage is greatly misrepresentative of one of the largest and fastest-growing minority groups in the United States. The fact that he gave such attention and care towards the Hispanics and specifically women, made him look like a very fair individual. He created an image of a person who would fight for the rights of minorities and more specifically Hispanics. They consider themselves a large part of the American society because they have lived in this country for decades and helped build infrastructure, as well as support the rest of the population of the United States (Cha-Jua 4).

One of the major goals of Obama was to take an in-depth look at the needs of the Hispanic youth and analyze the requirements that must be set forth in the education system. The education has to be reflective of the culture and consider the uniqueness of the Hispanic background. As the American society is a very competitive one, minority groups are often underrepresented and thus are always at a disadvantage. The population and American culture strive towards individual goals and rights and sometimes the society leaves people in need without any help. In the race for the economic power and freedom of the person, the society and the government focused their goals on the world economy and the bettering of the general position in the country. It was expected that the 2008 election will change things for the better. In 2009, Obama has produced his plan on how he is determined to change the educational system. It was an educational reform and one of its major goals was to better the educational standards and the assessment itself. He was determined to increase the pay for the teachers, establish world-class national standards and most importantly, pay great attention to the early childhood education. He was also concerned with the criteria of higher education and was planning on implementing several changes (King 15). This clearly shows that Barack Obama is closely familiar with the problem of the Hispanic community. He shares the belief that education is very important and that it is a growing problem in the Latino community. The fact that one of his major goals was to change education, is what granted him the support of the Hispanic population. Their goals seem to focus on the same thing and this became the connecting link between the government and the community. Another important matter that Obama addressed was the immigration policy. He admitted that a lot of people did not support the idea of changing any policies on this issue. In the earlier days of the United States there were a lot of people of Hispanic descent who moved to America and decided to start a new life. They helped build railroads, communication lines and cities. As Obama is of foreign background himself, he realizes how important it is for people to feel the support of the government, in the acknowledgment of the contributions that the Hispanic community has made. Also, Obama’s promise to better healthcare was met with great support from the Hispanic population. But, unfortunately, these changes did not take place during his presidency. This happened because the time was very unstable; the crisis-affected every aspect of the government and the American culture. Obama had to focus all his efforts on keeping the economy stable and attending to what was most important at the moment. This greatly affected the Latinos population, as this was one of the reasons they gave their votes to him. Obama seems determined to stand by his promises but in the present time no changes have been implemented. Currently, the conditions in schools are very poor for Hispanics. Often, they are being demoralized and marginalized. The symbolic racism that goes on is unacceptable and creates very harsh conditions for the students. It prevents them from reaching their goals and getting a proper education. The Hispanic community is devastated by the conditions that are present in the education system. Even though they are a large part of the population, they are unable to change the policies in their favor. The Latino population in the education system is growing very rapidly. Currently, the Hispanic students comprise 41% of the student population in the 10 major school districts in the United States. The fact that they are unable to receive a better education could have a very negative effect on the whole population and society of the United States. If the children are unable to get proper education, they will not be able to have better jobs once they grow up. If half of the American population is unable to support the economy, the country itself will be greatly affected. The economic consequences could be devastating to the nation and all of this depends on the Hispanic population. The statistics show that only 7 out of 100 students of Hispanic background were able to enroll in the four-year university program (King 30). This is a very disappointing fact, as United States strives to have one of the highest morals and best human rights in the world. Eventually, this becomes a vicious circle where parents of the young Hispanic population did not receive a respective education and in turn their children are unable to receive one either. In 2009, there was a proposal to change one-third of the schools into private operations, where Hispanics would have a better opportunity to receive education. It has received great support and almost took place but at the same time the opposition was stronger. Their argument was that public education must stay public and that the making of schools private would marginalize the population even more, as it reinforces the better treatment of certain groups, whereas the goal of democracy is to give everyone an equal opportunity (King 37).

There is a great problem in the Hispanic community. The children are very much dependent on their parents for the provision of adequate education. This dependence of the youth on their parents can be seen in all societies and nations. The fact that this happens in the United States is unacceptable. The Hispanic population is forced to do their best with very poor conditions of living. A great part of the Latino population does not have legal citizenship papers and is considered refugee. This creates another problem in them getting jobs and proper education. Because of this, people are forced to work in very poor conditions and for low pay. Also, the safety concern in such places is very low and in case something does happen there is no reimbursement for the person who is hurt or loses the ability to contribute. There is a great amount of inequality in society. Latino children are forced to grow up in overcrowded communities with no medical insurance and unsafe conditions. The fact that parents rely on the education system so heavily and believe that proper schooling will grant an opportunity for their children to gain social status and a bright future, leads parents to work in the worst conditions. Even though discrimination policies are in place, the Hispanics are still marginalized, working for low wages and with no opportunity for advancement. It is obvious that as with other races there is segregation and discrimination, rooted deep into the social and political system (Carr 192).

The differential and unequal treatment of the Latino population of the United States can be traced as far back as the 50’s. At the end of the 60’s the movement against marginalization and inequality has taken force. The interesting fact is that the fight against racism started through the education system and actively continues today. Chicanos began the fight with the drawing up of strategies and changes that must be made to the school system. Many times they have challenged the school system and demanded changes. There were numerous lawsuits and often schools would have open demonstrations. It was very common for teachers to punish students for speaking Spanish and apply infractions related to the dress code. In response to such treatment, in 1968-1969, an organization called ARMAS-Advocating Rights for Mexican-American Students was formed. Houston was one of the major arenas for the demonstrations. At one time, an estimated 500 hundred students walked out of the schools, all over Huston, to protest. Unfortunately, these demonstrations had no effect. There was a “seeming” attempt towards integration, where the school bus would be required to take black, white and Hispanic students to school together. But what happened was that Hispanics and blacks were paired up and taken to school separately from the white population. This created an outrage but the system explained it as the Hispanics being treated as “symbolic whites”. The riots continued but without any result (Behnken 229). This shows that American history has always treated Hispanics differently from whites and the struggle continues today.

It is true that there have been some changes towards the Hispanics’ treatment in the past decade. But it is very minuscule compared to the bigger picture. Obama has taken several steps to make the problem known. For example, during his presidency there were two Latinas appointed to key positions. Dr. Juliet V. Garcia was appointed the president of the University of Texas-Brownsville, which is a great move forward. She is a part of Obama’s transition team in the fight for the changes in the education system in favor of Hispanics. Cecilia Munoz who is the senior VP of the Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation at NALEO, was given the position of the director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (Rice 1). This is a great step towards the Hispanic involvement with the politics of the country. Not to mention that an even greater number of Latino population has been following the elections and the government programs that are put in place. The organization called “100 Hispanic Women” is taking drastic steps in changing the system. Their approach has become more aggressive and they are not afraid to voice their opinions. The rights and freedoms of the American citizens are a great tool for the Hispanic population to use. In the modern times there is no allowance for open racism and discrimination and the Latino population is making great use of this fact. The National Hispana Institute states that between years 1996 and 2006 there was a great increase in the Hispanics who were elected to office. The statistics show that the increase was local, as well as national and has reached a 73% increase. Also Latinos who were elected rose but were not as significant and constituted a 26% change (Rice 1).

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On September 15th, 2009, the administration of Barack Obama has proclaimed a National Hispanic Heritage Month. In the proclamation it is said that Hispanics are a great part of the American history. It is acknowledged that they have greatly contributed to the history and well-being of the country. Their contributions have made America what it is today. They have played a major role in the changes of many policies and have participated in almost all aspects of American life, from schools to employment and the state. Hispanic culture has become a part of the diverse society that strives towards excellence in all the beginnings and most importantly in education, which is so valuable for everyone. Obama proclaimed that from September 15th to October 15th, is the month of the Hispanic Heritage and this is considered an important step in the right direction (Obama 1).

In a White House blog online, October 19, 2010, Obama states in relation to the growing Hispanic population:

They have had a profound and positive impact on our country through, among other things, their community’s strong commitment to family, faith, hard work, and service… Our country was built and continues to thrive on its diversity, and there is no doubt that the future of the United States is inextricably linked to the future of the Hispanic community (Obama 2010).

This shows that Obama is very much oriented towards changing the present and future of the Hispanic population. It is admitted that they played an important role in the making and shaping of society.

There is no denying that the Hispanic population of the United States has endured a lot of suffering and limitations. For a very long time, their treatment was based on discrimination, not any less hurtful than discrimination towards other minorities. Latinos have taken much effort to fight for their rights and contribute to the democracy of the United States. Their fight has come a long way and many things have been changed. The election of 2008 had big plans and goals towards the Hispanics and Barack Obama made a promise to the community that he will go through with the promises. Even though some changes are hard to make, the future seems filled with hope for the Hispanic community. The current government has created hope for the Hispanic community and there is little doubt that Obama will not stand by his word. This can be seen in the support that he presently receives and he is determined to make his best efforts in keeping his promises to the Latinos.

Works Cited

Behnken, Brian. Fighting Their Own Battles: Mexican Americans, African Americans, And The Struggle for Civil Rights in Texas, North Carolina, United States: University of North Carolina Press, 2011. Print.

Carr, Paul. The Phenomenon of Obama and the Agenda for Education. Charlotte, United States: IAP, 2011. Print.

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Cha-Jua, Sundiata Keita. “Obama, The Rise Of The Hard Right, Arizona And Texas, And The Attack On Racilized Communities Studies.” Black Scholar 40.4 (2010): 2-6. Print.

King, Desmond. Still a House Divided: Race and Politics in Obama’s America, Princeton, United States: Princeton University Press, 2011. Print.

Obama, Barack 2010, President Obama and the Hispanic Community. Web.

Obama, Barack H. “Proclamation 8417–National Hispanic Heritage Month, 2009.” Daily Compilation Of Presidential Documents (2009): 1. Print.

Rice, Cheryl A. “Latinas and the 2008 Presidential Election.” The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education. (2009): 34. Print.

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