When one of a handful of Hispanic state lawmakers announced he would not seek re-election, the leader of the Middlesex County Democratic Party reportedly said, “nobody from the Latino community has shown an interest in that seat…”
Although South Amboy Mayor John T. O’Leary has been campaigning for the seat held by Assemblyman Joe Vas and he is likely to be given the ‘organization line,’ the Hispanic community should be faulted for not responding to the alteration in the political dynamics created by Vas’ indictment. By not even coming up with a single name for consideration as a 19th District legislator in 2009, the Alliance has forfeited its right to assert leadership of anything.
The mission of the Latino Leadership Alliance is to mobilize and empower Latino communities to obtain political, economic, and social equity. Without advocating the election of Hispanic representatives, they cannot do that. Latinos have not achieved a degree of representation in the Legislature that is commensurate with their share of the population or for the Hispanic community’s contribution to the state’s progress.
It is worth noting that the Alliance failed to participate in the election of New Jersey’s first Latina mayor in Perth Amboy the year before. More precisely, the group withdrew from active involvement in Mayor Wilda Diaz’s campaign after it pledged significant support.
It remains true to this day: ‘Evil can only prevail when enough good people do nothing.’
I do not doubt that the members of the organization from the grassroots to the top are well-intended, but New Jersey cannot prosper unless people take action against the forces of corruption that have pervaded government at all levels. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, but it is action that constitutes good deeds.
The black community in Union County’s 20th District could be accused of an equal failure, but there is no organization that presents itself as the voice of African-Americans in that region, although one is sorely needed. For that matter, New Jersey labor unions should not be content to let affluent political insiders carve up the state’s resources among themselves and their corporate special interest patrons.
The times call for angry mobs storming the State Capitol, not quiet acquiescence. Primary election contests have become a rarity in the Soprano State, while government failure and corruption have become common.
Now that tens of thousands of people have lost their private-sector jobs through no fault of their own, voters should be treated to much more competition for public offices. Are Americans fresh out of ideas or just afraid to take a stand for anything?
“Go along, get along,” is the motto of those who advance corrupt control over the political process. People in a position of power who do not want to make waves are drowning the opportunity to progress for all Hispanic people, or anyone who is poor or middle-class.
If the Latino Leadership Alliance and the people within the communities it purports to represent are unwilling to rock the boat, they shall never achieve progress. Instead, they will be co-opted and subjected to pandering and exploited, but most significantly, they will be ignored when it comes to substantive policy.
Hispanic residents are a key constituency in New Jersey’s Democratic Party, and their failure to come forward when opportunity presented itself is a loss for all Democrats as well as for the principle of diversity. African-Americans and organized labor share a similar unfulfilled responsibility, and there is a good chance that you do, too.
Not having contests for public office means politicians are allowed to grow arrogant as they become entrenched. Political bosses are permitted to pass judgment on candidates instead of letting the public decide. Those who would question authority are forced into silence and those who would right injustice are forced out of the way.
Those who look at such failures as the Katrina disaster, over-crowded for-profit immigration detention centers, rising joblessness and a floundering economy, and other examples of government in action that lead to disgust, must look at their own inaction as a powerful part of the cause.