90% of Latinos in Jackson Heights, Queens Support Bernie Sanders

My 90% statistic is not from a scientific poll. It is my anecdotal experience of knocking on doors and talking to registered Democrats. The “turf cut” that I got was actually for voters over 60. I am 65, so I thought I’d be a good person to reach this older demographic, since so many of the Bernie activists are under 30.

I was able to let people know that I was their neighbor and explain to them why I was supporting Bernie. I grew up in Jackson Heights. In 1954, we were the first Spanish speaking family to move onto a block that was half Irish and half Italian. Now that neighborhood is almost entirely Latino. I was able to tell them I attended Our Lady of Fatima grade school and found out that many had children or grandchildren who were or had been students there. I told them about my good friend Frank McManus from grade school who died in Vietnam and how that event was the beginning of life long anti-war activism for me. There’s a park named after Frank in the neighborhood.

I explained that while I was with Bernie on many issues, his courage to stand up and vote against the invasion of Iraq was what impressed me the most about him. In the debate on Thursday, Bernie didn’t do his best in answering whether donations to the Clintons have influenced policy. So, I helped to fill in some of those gaps with information like this from an article in The Nation titled “A Voter’s Guide to Hillary Clinton’s Policies in Latin America.”

In the Brooklyn debate, Bernie Sanders didn’t give a specific answer when asked for an example of when Clinton changed her policy as a result of financial contributions. Let’s then go to David Sirota, Andrew Perez, and Matthew Cunningham-Cook, writing about the fossil-fuel interests behind Clinton and Colombian free trade:
At the same time that Clinton’s State Department was lauding Colombia’s human rights record [despite having evidence to the contrary], her family was forging a financial relationship with Pacific Rubiales, the sprawling Canadian petroleum company at the center of Colombia’s labor strife. The Clintons were also developing commercial ties with the oil giant’s founder, Canadian financier Frank Giustra, who now occupies a seat on the board of the Clinton Foundation, the family’s global philanthropic empire.
The details of these financial dealings remain murky, but this much is clear: After millions of dollars were pledged by the oil company to the Clinton Foundation — supplemented by millions more from Giustra himself — Secretary Clinton abruptly changed her position on the controversial U.S.-Colombia trade pact.

Since the people I spoke with were older, I let them know that last year my first grandchild was born and thus Climate Change was another issue at the top of my list. Hillary supports continued fracking and wants a much slower and incremental approach to addressing climate problems. Bernie is unequivocally against fracking. I also spoke about Pope Francis’ encyclical on the Climate “Laudato Si.”

1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” — “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.[1]
2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.

I’ll be speaking to my neighbors again today and taking about Bernie’s visit to the Vatican. I have been a lapsed Catholic for many years. In 2014, at Christmas dinner (actually Noche Buena), I quoted Pope Francis to my surprised children. Today I am returning to the church of my youth, at Our Lady of Fatima, to talk with people about a Jew who thinks that Palestinians deserve to be treated like human beings.

Bernie Sanders, while at the Vatican, praised Pope Francis for speaking out and his visionary views about creating a moral economy, an economy that works for all people, not just the people on top and what he has said over and over again — we cannot allow the market to do just what the market does — that’s not acceptable. We have got to engrave moral principles into our economy.

Possible bias in my sample

  • I may have influenced people who would otherwise have been “low information” voters. I don’t watch cable news. I use sources from the Internet, so I am able to provide people with information that they are not likely to have seen.
  • I am tall, dark and handsome (or used to be ;-) I am 6'1" tall and people tend to see tall people people as leaders. I still have some good looks left, despite aging, which also influences people (rightly or wrongly).
  • In 2006 I got elected to Ann Arbor City Council by knocking on more doors and defeated the establishment incumbent Democrat. So, I have experience with how to successfully persuade people.
  • Hillary supporters might be less likely to answer their door (just an untested hypothesis).
  • The few people who wouldn’t say who they were supporting might have been Hillary supporters (another untested hypothesis)