2012 is a critical year for national politics, but it is also one for the island nation of Puerto Rico. The prize? A governorship and a non-binding vote to check in on the country’s preference for political status.
Most Americans on the mainland have no clue about the history of Puerto Rico, its relationship with the United States, the fact that Puerto Ricans are American citizens, and that Puerto Rico is going through a social and economic crisis that has resulted from decades of bad politicians and a passive electorate.
This Sunday, March 18, the Republican Party will hold its primary in Puerto Rico, which is ironic, since Puerto Ricans (although they are US citizens) can’t even vote in the November election. Mainstream media will gloss over the coverage, ignorantly making the whole Puerto Rican dilemma a one-issue situation (political identity) and “proving” that the GOP is seriously taking the US Latino vote into account.
That is the mainstream media’s view, and it is so far from the truth.
The reality is this: politics in Puerto Rico is a game, and a bad one at best, one that has reached high school levels. If you used reality shows to compare the US primary season with that of Puerto Rico, the US would be THE APPRENTICE while Puerto Rico would be JERSEY SHORE. You think Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are criticizing Mitt Romney, who by the way is being endorsing by pro-statehood and GOP Latino Darling Governor Luis Fortuño? Come down to Puerto Rico, where the fight has moved to social media. In one corner, Fortuño, the new GOP Latino IT Guy vs. Alejandro García Padilla, his opponent from the island’s Popular (pro-commonwealth) Party. Will these guys be doing viral videos of shooting laptops soon?
So what does the PNP do? Post an image on Facebook and they go on Twitter to call Long an “activist of Occupy Wall Street.” So, when in doubt, personally attack a reporter. That won’t play well, will it?
Granted we could be snarky and ask the PNP to actually edit their spelling errors in Spanish (Espana, pais), but we won’t. However, we do find it laughable and sad that a 15.2% unemployment rate is being seen as “good news” for the island. In addition, the chart also confirms that Puerto Rico’s credit rating is pretty low as well. Finally, the chart does nothing to combat the original findings of the December report.
Example Two: Take Your Fight to Facebook and Look Like High School Girls In the Process:
Someone, anyone, who has a clue about political campaigns needs to send a memo to Fortuño and García Padilla: social media is NOT the place to attack your opponents, it is not the place to “celebrate” your popularity (look at all the LIKES we got), and it is definitely not the place to post pictures that can easily be downloaded and screen captured and shared worldwide. Are these guys STATESMEN or are they really 14-year-olds? Based on their social media silliness, we chose the latter. Here is just one visual from Fortuño’s Facebook page (over 55,00 likes):
Granted, we will give AGP some Facebook credit (also around 55K likes). At least the photos they post aren’t that bad. But then you get status updates like these from AGP (we have translated): “I present ideas, they respond with insults. And then they come after my family. I am not going to shut up. They only have 8 more months. Instead of insults, ideas.” (btw, that status update got over 1,073 likes).
Wait, maybe these two candidates understand social media, more so that others. Maybe they know that Puerto Rican voters LIVE on Facebook. And when you get stories about AGP being at a “strip club,” you know that this will only get uglier. (BTW, AGP said he spent 50 dollars in a Seattle sex shop in 2006 to buy a gift for his wife.)
And by the, García Padilla is no angel himself, since his party is slinging mud about $1,398 in Krispy Kreme donuts spent with campaign funds of pro-statehooder and House of Represenatives President Jennifer González.
But the fact remains, this is still so HIGH SCHOOL, it is sad. Puerto Rican politics has become one giant social media circus. Yet the sadder thing is that the electorate is responding. And somewhere in heaven, Albizu Campos is shaking his head. What have we become? Where are the real leaders? Will they ever show up? Do they even have a Twitter account?