"He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water." Isaiah 49:10

Monday, November 24, 2008

"And the Survey Says...."

Fidel “Butch” Montoya

The National Institute for Latino Policy just recently completed a survey on what the Obama victory may mean to the Latino community. With over 950 responses from Latino leaders from across the United States, the National Latino Opinion Leaders Survey (NLOLS) gives some interesting insight as to what the Latino community is expecting from the Obama administration for lending its support during the election.

While the survey was not a scientific poll, the fact that close to a 1000 Latino leaders took part in the survey should not mean the poll does not adequately represent the general mood in the Latino community at this point in time.

Seventy eight percent of the Latinos surveyed believe the election of Obama as President is “a good thing” for our community. Only four percent felt it was “a bad thing.” There was a large percentage, eighteen percent of those surveyed, who felt they were not sure or did not know.

However, the NLOLS survey also raised some interesting issues that Obama must address if he is to keep the honeymoon mood alive with the Latino community. For example, Latino leaders “are skeptical of the Obama transition and the Democratic Party responsiveness to the Latino community.”

When asked if the Obama transition team was including strong Latino leaders in the transition process, “only twenty two percent said yes. Thirty three percent said no, and forty six percent were not sure of did not know.”

An interesting point of discussion that must be addressed by the national Democratic leadership is to just assume that they have the Latino voter locked up and end up taking the Latino vote for granted. There are some serious misgivings by the Latino leaders who answered the survey.

Fifty three percent of Latino opinion leaders “felt that the Democratic Party was not being responsive to the needs of the Latino community, compared to twenty one percent who felt it was being responsive.”

Even though Latino voters gave their overwhelming support to the Democratic Party and President-elect Obama, a majority of the survey participants believe the Party has a long way to go before Latino leaders will give the party leadership a blank check when it comes to addressing issues important to Latino voters.

There is plenty of interesting data when it comes to identifying the top priority issues for the Latino community. The economy was one of the top issues Obama must address according to seventy five percent of the opinion leaders in the Latino community. This issue included the need for more jobs and strong leadership to break the cycle of poverty faced by Latino families.

It was especially noteworthy to find that the participants of the NLOLS survey did not feel “that the issues of racism, voting rights, housing, or US relations with Latin America needed to be a priority for the Obama Administration.”

I believe more research and in depth discussion is necessary before we simply accept this data, particularly when it comes to racism and immigration, housing and high foreclosures in the Latino community. I would agree that much has been done to register more Latino voters, and because of the educational process taken to increase Latino voters, most Latinos are up to speed when it comes to voting rights.

The top priority issues identified by Latino leaders that must be addressed by the Obama Administration start with immigration (twenty percent), the economy (twenty percent), education (seventeen percent), and seventeen percent said “the same as those for the country in general.”

When it comes to addressing comprehensive immigration reform, eighty four percent “do not believe or are not sure”, that Obama will introduce any immigration reform legislation in his first 100 days. However, sixty-nine percent are very hopeful and believe that Obama will call for “a moratorium on immigration raids,” with thirty percent saying they do not believe it will happen in the first 100 days.

Interestingly enough, the survey asked if immigration was the most important issue facing the Latino community. Fifty-eight percent disagreed that it was the most important, with only thirty-six percent who thought it was the most important issue.

While the survey has more information on other issues of the day, there is one important issue I believe facing our community warrants further discussion. The issue of Black-Latino relations during the elections was always a point of contention by the news pundits and commentators and what affect they felt it would have on the election.

Several polls and exit polling demonstrated that Latinos voted in large numbers for Obama, however, seventy-one percent of the survey participants felt Black-Latino relations were “only fair or poor.” Two percent believed relations were “excellent,” and twenty-five percent said they were “good.”

The NLOLS survey has more information and is worthwhile reading to get a glimpse at what Latino opinion leaders from across the United States believe. The survey helps to put many issues facing our community in perspective and can be helpful in developing strategies to move forward, and most importantly, the survey gives each of us an idea where we stand nationally in relationship to other Latino community members in our country.

For more information, contact Angelo Falcon, the President and Founder of National Institute for Latino Policy. editor@latinopolicy.org

Fidel “Butch” Montoya
H. S. Power & Light – Latino Faith Initiative

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Obama Challenge & the Church

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

The election results from the two year presidential election are finally in and as a nation we have elected a new President, Barack Obama. A man who promises change and new leadership for the uncertain days of the future.

There is not a greater time than today for a new outlook and determination to fight for unyielding justice, a supreme sense of obligation to serve, and to look upon the days and months ahead as an opportunity to refocus our beliefs and values.

President-elect Obama made it clear in his acceptance speech from Chicago that he intends to be the President of all the people. At the end of many Presidential elections we have heard that refrain and pledge only to see the agenda of partisan politics become the theme of the new leadership and hope for a united people lost.

"We know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century," Obama said in his victory speech in Chicago's Grant Park. "There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created, new schools to build and threats to meet and, for us to lead, alliances to repair."

There can be no drawing back from the pledge that President-elect Obama made in Chicago, to you, to the nation and to a world looking for a new moral leadership from America.

Many Evangelicals supported Senator John McCain because he stood closer to the ideals and values Evangelicals hold dear. The belief in life, and strong stand in following the Biblical teaching that marriage is between a man and women were strong voter values.

Yet on the other hand, many Evangelicals gave up their solemn and firm belief in those two fundamental values to work for justice, to work against poverty, to fight for a better education for all, and to share the American Dream with other people who have failed to taste the sometimes bitter sweet taste of success. They will still need to stand for these new values as they must also struggle with the old challenges of the past as well.

I can upon all regardless of where they stood before tonight's historic election that we move forward toward rebuilding the trust of the American people and that we join President-elect Obama to send a strong beacon of light and hope from the hilltop to all the nations of the world who have traditionally looked to our country as the leader of the free world.

To the supporters of President-elect Obama who pledge to fight hard to combat poverty, environmental issues, lack of educational opportunities, voice for the undocumented immigrant who seeks the American dream, let us join together to build a national agenda that meets the needs of hopeless and most in need.

We live in perilous times and face large challenges and issues that only have become chaotic, divisive, and frightening, but still demanding immediate attention. The national ordeal of finding our way out of the malaise of an economy in a free fall, enemies of our nation who stand ready to attack or destroy our way of life, and two wars which have entangled our country and where we have seen too much American blood spilled in the name of democracy.

Some of us have heard the "prophetic voices" that predict more destruction and despair in our country. We have heard the "voices or righteousness leaders" say there is no hope for our future because of the perceived policies and political positions the "left wing of the Democratic Party" will institute in our national narrative and discourse.

Pastor R. Loren Sandford who has been very cynical of the election of Obama and says he still sees America irrevocably being changed by the polices of the Left and that our hope will merely be a delusion. He also sees "a whirlwind of confusion and change" that he does not understand, but believes it does not bode well for our country.

Yet Pastor Sandford is very clear on one issue that I wholeheartedly support and encourage all of us to support. He says, "Finally, no matter where you stood on this election, we are now under obligation, not to be like Israel grumbling in the wilderness or dividing from one another, but to pray lovingly and fervently for Barack Obama."

Pastor Sandford quotes I Timothy 2:1-4 as it applies to the situation we face today. "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."

Unfortunately politics will most likely play a role in the development of our national policy and ideals, but if President-elect Obama is serious about being the President of all the people, it is time for 'good politics and non-partisan' leadership to prevail in the Halls of Congress, lead by a strong President and a united nation.

There will be those who will claim that "their President" was elected and that "your Presidential candidate was not." That attitude will not aid President-elect Obama with the exceptionally troublesome challenges he will face as our leader, and a person who promised change and national focus.

A Washington Post article states, "After a victory of historic significance, Barack Obama will inherit problems of historic proportions. Not since Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated at the depths of the Great Depression in 1933 has a new president been confronted with the challenges Obama will face as he starts his presidency."

Our nation embarks on a new historic opportunity and one that will draw the praise and admiration of people world-wide as they see the election as a fundamental change in our nation's history.

The mere fact and I don't in any way mean to demean the historical significance of what happened today in our history, but it will take a united country to work with President-elect Obama drawing up his vision and hope for the future, and only then can we participate in furthering the dream of justice, mercy, and acknowledgement of our God.

Tonight, the Evangelical Church is beset with a challenge and an urgent call to be the force which will not just join the movement toward a new identity, but to remain a strong voice of conscience.

More than ever, the Church must call upon the Most High for guidance, direction, inspiration, leadership, justice and mercy to ensure that our country remains a nation of high morals and values.

Senator McCain in his concession speech from Phoenix spoke of the difficulties we will continue to face and that it is going to take a united nation to pull together.

McCain said, "I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited. Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans."

The prophetic voices of today call us to positions of leadership and restoration, to remain strong voices for justice, to a higher calling to embrace the oppressed, to stand in the gap for the voiceless, and always present the Gospel as love, not hate, as salvation, not damnation, for life, not death, and for teachings and values that will lead our nation and our dreams.

Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colordo 80212