“Victory has a hundred fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”
So goes the old adage about winning and losing in politics, as timely as it was when President John F. Kennedy made it popular in the 1960s as it was last Tuesday, when his kin lost a grueling race for the Democratic Party nomination to the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts.
The younger Kennedy’s stance on PROMESA, the law that imposed a fiscal control board on Puerto Rico after years of financial crisis, may have had a big part to play in that loss. It was a hotly debated topic in what was a winding, at times very tight race — one where usually forgotten Puerto Rican voters were seen as potentially swinging the election one way or the other. And that, in itself, is a lesson for the presidential race and other contests in November.
Most of the pundit class has so far pegged the statewide horse race between Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John Markey‘Markeyverse’ of online fans helps take down a Kennedy Jake Auchincloss wins Massachusetts primary for Kennedy’s House seat Campaigns rethink how to reach college students amid pandemic MORE and challenger Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick Kennedy‘Markeyverse’ of online fans helps take down a Kennedy The Hill’s Campaign Report: Backlash grows over Trump’s reported comments on fallen troops Jake Auchincloss wins Massachusetts primary for Kennedy’s House seat MORE III, as well as the undercard bout in the state’s 1st District between Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealHouse Democrat offers measures to block Trump’s payroll tax deferral Five things we learned from this year’s primaries The Hill’s 12:30 Report: First Kennedy to lose a Massachusetts election MORE and challenger Alex Morse, as two more skirmishes in the intra-party struggle between Democratic progressive activists and establishment types. In that sense, they’ve called Tuesday night a tie: progressives rallied successfully to bring Markey roaring to the fore from double-digit deficits in early polling, while the centrists stood by Neal and won.
For Puerto Ricans, or boricuas as we like to call ourselves, BOTH races were a success.
We saw ourselves not just acknowledged and mentioned, but witnessed campaigns putting real effort into defining what policies those aspiring for federal office would put in place to help Puerto Rico.
It might be somewhat surprising this happened in Massachusetts, which doesn’t have the reputation of places like the Bronx, Orlando, or New Haven, Conn., as a hub for Puerto Rican families. Yet in a close, contested election where every vote truly mattered, candidates took notice that boricuas are close to five percent of the Pilgrim State’s population, and saw the value of talking about what they would do for us and our people in a targeted way.
The most obvious example of this was in a late July debate between Sen. Markey and Rep. Kennedy, where Markey buried his challenger for his vote in 2016 for the so-called PROMESA law. That act of Congress imposed a fiscal oversight board in Puerto Rico, which has subsequently resulted in savage cuts to health care, housing and education funding there. To Puerto Ricans, who don’t usually hear federal elected officials talk about this reality in such clear-cut terms, Markey delivered prime time exposure to an important issue, taking a hard stance that will help drive the rest of the Senate’s Democratic caucus in the future. Positioning on PROMESA was also a part of the race between Rep. Neal and Morse.
While Morse campaigned on this issue more aggressively, Neal’s reelection bid made policy statements to match, something that will hopefully be valuable to those advocating for job-creating incentives for Puerto Rico before the congressman, as he continues chairing the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
We can only hope all the talk about Puerto Ricans will now be carried down the Acela Corridor to the Democratic presidential campaign headquarters in Philadelphia and right into Joe BidenJoe Biden‘Princess Bride’ cast to reunite for Wisconsin Democrats fundraiser Anita Hill says she’ll vote for Biden Buttigieg, former Obama officials added to Biden’s transition team MORE’s Wilmington, Del., studios, and show that campaign the value of taking a strong policy stance regarding Puerto Rico.
On its messaging targeting Puerto Ricans, the presidential nominee has been mainly focused so far on showing how bad Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpCohen claims in new book that Trump is ‘guilty of the same crimes’ as him ‘Princess Bride’ cast to reunite for Wisconsin Democrats fundraiser Bernie Sanders warns that Trump may not concede the election MORE has been for Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans. He gets no objection from us there. Trump has been a disaster for Puerto Rico, and his thinly veiled racist attitudes towards Hispanics are a serious threat to our well-being — perhaps even existence — in this country.
Yet as Massachusetts showed, there is an opportunity to do even more to get…