First published in The Huffington Post, 09/07/2012
Last Wednesday, the second day of the National Democratic Convention in Charlotte, President Bill Clinton left ecstatic the thousands of delegates and visitors, and millions of viewers all across the nation, especially those already supportive of the party’s ideology.
But among them, there were those who felt a deeply emotional connection to his words, those who came to tears with his rhetoric, those who followed every word spellbound.
The TV cameras found them and locked into their admiring gazes.
They were especially moved because Bill Clinton is regarded as one of them, an African American.
For many in the black community, Bill Clinton was the first black president. So many were the initiatives he promoted and put to work with their well being in mind. So many were his demonstrations of belonging, solidarity and identification.
From Clinton playing the blues on his saxophone to his heavy southern accent and charisma. He won their love and the highest honor: they accepted him as one of them.
For many, it wasn’t Barack Obama but Bill Clinton who was the first black president.
Last Thursday, President Obama delivered his acceptance speech on the convention floor.
Even if he loses the election come November, he will stay in office until January 20th, 2013. There would still be time to act.
Latino issues and leaders were in force at the Democrats’ convention. Eight-hundred of the delegates were Hispanic. Many of the speakers were Latinos, representing some of the best of this community from across the nation.
But Latinos are still waiting for Obama.
What will the President be for Latinos during his remaining days in office – be it a few months or more than four years?
Will he continue the path initiated on June 15th, when he announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, suspending deportations for over one million young, undocumented immigrants who meet qualifications? Will he push for passage of the DREAM Act? Will Obama push for comprehensive immigration reform that will lead millions of immigrants out of the shadows with a chance to become citizens?
Or will he, simply, continue to be the Barack Obama of the first term, the one with an all-time record in deportations, the one who broke his promise of passing immigration reform in his first year in office?
If he opts for the first choice, Barack Obama will unleash deep change, a new era in the historic relationship between the United States and Latinos here and all over the world. He would have accepted them unconditionally into the nation. He would show solidarity. And he would bring Hispanics to tears.
Because from that moment, Latinos will see Obama as one of them.
They will be looking at Barack Obama, the First Latino President of the United States.