Politicians must stop ‘hispandering’ and start genuinely focusing on Latinx voters

by Trinity Bland, Staff Writer

The Latinx community in the United States deserves a greater deal of respect and regard than they’ve received from politicians over the course of time. 

Historically, it has been said that politicians have struggled to reach this community because of their ineligibility to vote, differences in household income and education, as well as the most obvious — the language barrier.

But now, more than ever, candidates are trying their best to tap into the Latinx vote. With a Democratic presidential primary panel consisting of candidates who — with the exception of one — do not identify as Latinx, listening to them trying to speak Spanish to reach a particular demographic was somewhat admirable until it was terribly cringeworthy.

Candidates had intentions of trying to make a power move and make themselves appear as the best candidate on the panel. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke tried his best to deliver an answer in Spanish in hopes of appealing to the Latinx community. Then, Senator Cory Booker proceeded to talk about how dissatisfied he was with President Trump’s policies in Spanish, also with hopes of gaining votes from the Latinx community.

Latinx voters who are politically engaged may view the attempts of the Democratic candidates to speak Spanish in campaign scenarios such as the debates as offensive, insulting and pandering — just as the word “Hispandering” implies.

“Hispandering” is a mixture of two words: “Hispanic” and “pandering”— “Hispanic” referring to the minority group and “pandering” as in “satisfying.” The term basically translates to the act of “satisfying the Hispanics,” which is exactly what some of the candidates are attempting to do — fulfill the members of this community by speaking elementary Spanish and making a sad attempt to appeal to them.

I grew up in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood and set a goal early in my childhood to become fluent in Spanish. Since then, I have made a ton of progress in learning a good amount of the language and I can confidently say that I am proficient in reading, writing, speaking and understanding the language. Obviously, there is a lot more to learn, but I am proud of what I know.

I don’t identify as a member of the Latinx community, but I felt offended as a person of color and an American citizen who is proficient in the Spanish language. The candidates should be ashamed of themselves for trying to use the language at its bare minimum as a tactic to reel their Latinx voters into them. 

We need better people in positions of power  — specifically individuals who care about the people they are leading and care to work on their behalf, instead of leading them on with empty promises to ensure that they have the most votes and win the election.

At large, the Democratic candidates cannot win over Latinx voters solely by speaking broken Spanish. Latinx voters are focused on what the 2020 candidates will do to benefit them and their community. They don’t care if the candidates are able to say a few words in their language. They care about whether the candidates can address their pressing needs and concerns. 

Above all, they want to know if the candidates will be able to keep their promises once they are elected. 

Trinity Bland is a sophomore studying journalism. Follow her on Twitter @trinityaliciaa.