2020 Democrat campaigns and their "bilingual" sites

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In previous posts, I have written in Spanish about the importance of having truly bilingual narratives on the Democratic campaign sites. Right now, most candidates (16 out of 20) have a varying degree of detail about their mission in Spanish. But these pages are for the most part direct translations from the original English and lack authenticity and a true connection with the diversity of the Spanish-speaking electorate (and have plenty of errors and spelling inconsistencies to match their poor linguistic quality).

During the first Democratic debate on 6/26 in Florida, candidate Julián Castro floated the idea that “on January 20, 2021, we’ll say ‘adiós’ to Donald Trump”, which implies that the Spanish-speaking population has agency and drive to change the outcome of the 2020 Election.

And this implicature seems to hold true power. According to Voto Latino, 11.7 million Latinx voters turned up at the polls in the 2018 midterm election, which set a record of high numbers for this type of election, and a survey conducted by the organization yielded that 94% of young Latinx voters plan to vote in coming elections, both at the local and national levels.

These voters can make a real impact in the 2020 election and it is paramount for the Democratic campaigns to address the Latinx population by speaking their language, both literal and metaphorically.

VotoLatino further points out that “Latinos are one of the youngest and fastest-growing groups in the nation, with nearly 59 million in the U.S. 32 millions Latinos will be eligible to vote in 2020 across the country, making [them] the second-largest voting bloc in the country.”

But the coast is not clear for Democrats in the courting of Latinx voters. Work must be done, campaigning must happen, and candidates need to connect with Spanish-speaking communities if they really want to create a momentum that will translate in votes when the day comes. In a recent article on the NYTimes en Español, the question of Why aren’t Democrats winning the Hispanic vote 80-20 or 90-10 was analyzed. One of the main takeaways from the Florida midterm setback, was that Democrats automatically assumed that what was happening at the national level would by default turn Latinx voters off and against Republican discourse. But “by all accounts, Scott and DeSantis [winning Republican Senate and governor candidates] campaigned almost daily in Hispanic precincts, while their Democratic opponents, Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum, took the Hispanic vote for granted.”

In theory, and according to a recent survey by Masson-Dixon for Telemundo, if the national election happened today, 25% of Hispanics would vote in favor of the current President (with 28% approving of his current performance). That’s a relatively high number that must be addressed.

While 66% of the voting bloc would vote to replace the President today, there is MUCH to do. The survey (conducted before the recent Democratic debates) showed support for Joe Biden at 23% and some support under the 10% ratio for Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or Beto O’Rourke.

Candidates like Julián Castro, Cory Booker or Pete Buttigieg, who are shown speaking in or talking about Spanish in the corresponding links, speak Spanish at a basic (not fully discursive, but at a sufficiently interactive) level. Those candidates have a real chance to tackle that 66% majority of Latinx voters who want to see a Democrat win the 2020 election.

There is a real need to connect with Latinx and Spanish-speaking voters in order to generate real change in 2020. It is not enough to have a sloppy rendition of English-in-Spanish for the Spanish sites of these candidates. The Spanish that their sites must showcase needs to be REAL, AUTHENTIC AND ON POINT. It must connect with the communities they aim to reach and talk clearly about issues that matter to them: immigration, healthcare, education, gender differences, inclusivity… in their own language.

The time is now, the place is here: the United States of America que habla, piensa y siente en español. AND VOTES EN ESPAÑOL.

An interesting opinion column on the CNN en Español site recently mentioned that Latinos don’t always vote for Latinos. They vote with their hearts for those who identify with their community (“Los latinos no siempre votan por candidatos latinos. Votan con el corazón por quien se identifique con su comunidad.)

The language of the Latinx community is Spanish. They speak English too, but their heart will be with s/he who connects with them at the primal level that only a shared language done right can bring. Don’t speak it in person? Then bring it FOR REAL on the campaign sites!

That’s where the power of the Voto Latinx lies. Speaking Spanish is not a requirement to identify as Latinx or Hispanx, and most second and third generation speakers use mostly English in their everyday lives, or code switch between both at the speed of light. But campaign sites that address the Latinx vote with a direct translation from English take the electorate for granted, show a lack of commitment to a real connection and may even prove tone deaf and short sighted in the outcome of their approach, especially if the candidates are not from minorities themselves.