Biden's moment of truth
By Alfredo Estrada
Hemingway’s phrase “the moment of truth” refers to when the matador slays the bull. But it applies to politics. Hemingway’s phrase “the moment of truth” refers to when the matador slays the bull. But it applies to politics as well as bullfighting, as seen in John Rios’ illustration for our cover story by Valerie Menard. Voters in November will not just choose between two candidates for president, but between two fundamental visions of America’s future. And Latinos must consider what our place in this future will be.
The differences are so stark there’s no room for ambivalence, especially for Democrats. Biden has a 38-year political career with a complex, well-documented legacy. There is much for voters to like, as he is an experienced and empathetic leader. Yet he also has things to answer for, particularly his support for the immigration policy that earned Obama the moniker of “deporter-in-chief.” But a protest vote for a third party, or the choice not to vote, will lead to Trump’s re-election. One reason for Hillary Clinton’s defeat was a low turnout among African Americans and young people. If these constituencies don’t turn out in force on Election Day, we’ll have four more years of this. It’s as easy as that. Women must consider that under Trump, we may well have a 7-2 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, impacting reproductive rights. And Latinos will be the deciding factor in battleground states like Texas, Arizona and Florida.
Republicans, too, have a black and white choice. In 2016, some Latinos (at least the ones I know in Miami) voted not so much for Trump as against Clinton and by proxy, Obama. Perhaps because he was new to politics, Trump was given the benefit of the doubt. He would drain the swamp, build a wall (to be paid by Mexico) and make America great again. Whether voters actually believed this was debatable. It was worth a throw of the dice. But four years later, Latinos voting for Trump can have no illusions about his second term. They know exactly what they will be getting. Not more of the same, but much more than that. Trump unrepentant and unleashed is a terrifying prospect not just for Latinos, but for all Americans, and the entire world.
The last three months have made this choice even more clear cut. Trump’s response to the deadly pandemic, with his initial denial, finger pointing, and feckless incompetence, were all utterly predictable. Equally so was his answer to the mass protests following the death of George Floyd. Trump threatened to crack down with active-duty military, tweeted wild conspiracy theories, and brutally cleared out peaceful demonstrators in Lafayette Square using mounted police to stage a ludicrous photo-op holding a bible at St. John’s Church.
When coronavirus hit, Biden hadn’t even taken a victory lap as his campaign came to a screeching halt. Trump seized the spotlight with daily briefings, while Biden remained in his basement, all but invisible. But as Trump ranted and raved, Biden finally found his voice. On June 2, he gave a speech in Philadelphia which rang clear and true, offering a marked contrast to Trump: “I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate. I’ll seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued our country. not use them for political gain. I’ll do my job and I’ll take responsibility. I won’t blame others.”
Indeed, the pandemic and the protests have transformed Biden’s candidacy in ways he himself might not have foreseen. Whether because of his age or moderate views, Biden was perceived by many as a transitional figure who would pass the torch to the next generation of political leaders, perhaps his running mate. It’s clear now that Biden must be a transformational president, confronting as great a challenge as Lincoln or FDR. He will be charged with finishing the fight against the virus, rebuilding our shattered economy, restoring our world leadership, and most importantly, healing the raw, gaping wound in America’s heart.
Can Biden face his moment of truth? In his remarks in Philadelphia, I felt for the first time that he could wear this mantle of greatness. That he is uniquely qualified in temperament and experience to be president. That he will bring us together rather than separate us. That he is a kind, decent man who embodies American values. That he is honest and can be trusted. That he will appoint capable public servants, not relatives and cronies. That he will make America once more the leader of the free world. That he will respect our Constitution, particularly the First Amendment. That Latinos will have a voice in his administration, and he will support immigration reform, ending the current cruelty at the border. That he can answer our country’s anguished call, and become the leader that we need so desperately in these troubled times.
For these reasons, LATINO Magazine endorses Joseph Biden for President. Our publications have always been bipartisan and we have never endorsed a candidate for any public office. Rather, our role has always been to present Latinos with the information to reach their own decisions. But the options before us have unequivocably altered this balance. If we have learned one thing, it is that elections matter. The alternative to President Biden is unthinkable. We urge our readers to consider this carefully and make an informed choice when they cast their ballots on November 3.
The pandemic has dealt a severe blow to small businesses such as ours, and corporate support for Latino-owned media has steeply declined in recent years, putting many of us out of work. That’s why we sincerely appreciate those companies that value independent Latino journalism and have stuck by us this issue, including ExxonMobil, T-Mobile, Comcast, Raytheon, Coca-Cola, Chase, Colgate, IMPACT, API, Altria, Comerica, Barilla, Pepco, ComEd, Bank of America, and others. We thank you, and we won’t forget. ¡Gracias!