This weekend, Tim Kaine was introduced as the vice presidential running mate of Hillary Clinton. His first words were in Spanish: "Bienvenidos a todos. Porque somos Americanos todos." ("Welcome all. Because we're all Americans.") The Virginia senator took several opportunities during his speech to use our language to relate to the public and highlight the importance of his time as a missionary in Honduras.
After almost nine months of intense campaigning for the White House, this announcement came like a breath of fresh air among Hispanics who have been the target of attacks, insults and false accusations, especially on the part of the official Republican candidate, Donald Trump. For the first time in some months, many Latinos were not outsiders to the national conversation and, most importantly, they felt accepted in this country that many call home.
The choice of Tim Kaine as vice presidential candidate is a gamble to court Hispanics and is a reaffirmation of the importance of the Latino vote. Furthermore, it means recognition of a bilingual and bicultural country.
The anti-immigrant, conservative and strong-arm stance of Trump, along with the open and liberal policies of Clinton, will turn these elections into a referendum between an old, white, Protestant and isolated America and a young, modern, multicultural and globalized one.
The vice presidential announcements of both Trump and Clinton provide more evidence that this is a fiercely divided nation. Even after eight years of Barack Obama, who many thought worked with tolerance and inclusion, it appears that the U.S. has started down the path of segregation and isolation.
So, we’re dealing with a campaign of utmost importance. It's not every day that the future of a country is discussed in these terms, much less a nation whose actions set the path for most of the world.
Four intense and dangerous months are coming. As strange as it seems outside of the U.S., Trump has a real possibility of being president of the United States. In the end, many believe that the country must look inward, fix its problems and stop being concerned about others.
For Hispanics, though Kaine embodies the empathy of the kind gringo that lived in Latin America, it must be noted that many Latinos feel betrayed by the Democratic Party. This is because, despite the good intentions of Obama, it delayed and ultimately did not enact necessary immigration reform. Furthermore, Obama’s administration has deported more Hispanics than any administration before it. So the U.S. elections are, for now, literally a shot in the dark.