Editorials | May 2007
|Richardson: El Presidente USA?|
Domenico Maceri - PVNN
Although members of minority groups have run for president of the U.S., their chances of winning the White House were always very small. In the 2008 election it is going to be different since several candidates belonging to “disadvantaged” groups are serious contenders.
|Richardson’s main problem would be to convince Democratic voters to give him the nomination of their party since he is considered too conservative to satisfy the party’s faithful.|
The clear leaders so far are a woman (Hillary Clinton, Democrat) and an Italian-American (Rudolph Giuliani, Republican). But others with serious chances are Barack Obama (African-American), and Bill Richardson (Hispanic in spite of his name, his mother is Maria Luisa Lopez-Collada, born in Mexico).
At the moment Richardson is last among these candidates and the latest polls give him virtually no chances. That could change as we get closer to the election and people start paying more attention. Richardson, in fact, would be most qualified to become president given his experience in government and diplomacy.
With a degree in political sciences and French from Tufts University in Boston, Richardson also speaks fluent Spanish. After spending 14 years in the House of Representatives, he became a special envoy, succeeding in obtaining the release of several Americans held hostages under very difficult circumstances. He even managed to negotiate with Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong II. He worked in the Clinton administration as U.N. ambassador and later as Secretary of Energy. In 2003 he was elected governor of New Mexico with 56% of the votes and reelected in 2006 with 68%. In terms of experience, therefore, Richardson has few rivals.
With regard to ideology, Richardson is at the center of the political spectrum, rowing with both the right and the left. As governor of New Mexico he has created new jobs, expanded health care for kids, and raised teachers’ salaries. He opposed the construction of the fence on the Mexican border and favors a pathway to earned legalization for the 12 million undocumented workers in the U.S. He stated that the U.S. needs to withdraw the American troops from Iraq and work to establish compromises among the three major groups in the country by means of diplomatic initiatives. He lowered state income taxes from 8 to 4.9%, something that would make Republicans smile and has generated a budget surplus. He has also declared a state of emergency at the border because some illegal immigrants have been involved in drug smuggling.
As the only Latino candidate, Richardson would easily win the Hispanic vote which is in continuous growth. It is estimated that in the 2008 election the Latino vote will reach 10% of the total. It would certainly not be enough to open the doors of the White House. Yet, Richardson would probably get Democratic as well as Republican votes.
Richardson’s main problem would be to convince Democratic voters to give him the nomination of their party since he is considered too conservative to satisfy the party’s faithful. At the moment, polls place Richardson in last place. It looks like he would get from 1 to 3% of the vote, but of course, at this stage it’s little more than name recognition.
Winning the nomination of his party may prove difficult but Richardson is optimistic. Of course, he needs funds to run an effective campaign. If the primaries in Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire smile at him, he will be able to find enough financial resources. If not, Richardson would certainly make an excellent vice-presidential candidate. And that may be really what he is aiming for.
Domenico Maceri, PhD, UC Santa Barbara, teaches foreign languages at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA. He is the author of a book on Pirandello, one on Spanish grammar, and another on Italian grammar. He has also published a number of articles in newspapers and magazines around the world, some of which have won awards from the National Association of Hispanic Publications.
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