MIAMI — To paraphrase Joan Didion, Miami has never cared to be in conversation with New York Or LA. Miami has always been in conversation with Washington D.C. The fact that Hillary Clinton chose Florida International University (FIU) as the location to roll out her vice presidential pick, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, made evident two things. She understands that Miami is the embodiment of the future of the United States and she’s listening.
Waiting in line with my family to go into Saturday's event, I noticed everybody was cheery, considerate and more importantly, everyone was enthusiastically determined. After the dark vision of America Donald Trump presented last week, the need to come together and be optimistic was palpable in the warm Miami air.
There was an Argentinian family ahead, the Blancos. Alejandra, 54, was excited about Hillary. “She’s a woman with a long trajectory and great political experience that could make a great difference in US politics right now," she said. "This election season is so conflicted and problematic, plus she believes in the rights of the disabled and immigrants. She supports education and health care. She’s the most qualified for the job.”
Waiting for our security check Geradio Luz, 44, from Venezuela, told us he began his citizen application because he and his wife wanted to vote against Trump.
“Its unbelievable the way he’s disrespecting the Latino community," said Cruz. "We could have waited but we said, 'No, this is our moment.' We have to do it now," said Luz.
Understanding his urgency I asked him if he saw any parallels between Venezuela in the 90s and the U.S. now. “Chavez was a lefty, Trump is to the right but in the end they’re the same," said Luz. "Extremes are bad for everything. We have lived that. People trying to separate people is bad. That’s not the way to build a country.”
Walking up the stairs I met a man who had arrived to the States from Cuba in the 80’s. Raul Hernández, 66, said there was no contest in this presidential election. He believed Hillary has the knowledge and heart to lead this country. He also thought it was important that Latinos get the respect the deserve.
“For some people in this country Latinos are considered 4th class citizens," said Hernández. "It’s time for them to know we work, we vote and we love this country. We are Americans.”
I bumped into former congressman Joe García, who is running again in the upcoming Democratic primary for Congress. "The Republicans haven't presented us a with any opportunity to support a national candidate, but here we have somebody that supports not only our policy, but has lived our culture," he said of Kaine/ "And of course you have Hillary Clinton’s long commitment to our community. I think this is a fantastic choice for Latinos so we not only have somebody to vote against but we have somebody to vote for.”
My mom, sister and I settled int our spots as staffers interacted with the supporters. My mom marveled quietly at the packed arena. It was the first time she’d ever been to a political rally. Just when I was about to ask her what was on her mind, she turned to me in her thick Cuban accent.
“Look at all these people. Trump's convention looked like a bunch of ballroom dancers at a Trump tournament waiting to see who gets the trophy for the most hateful person there," said my mom. "But look at all the diversity here. This is the USA.”
Needless to say the arena erupted when Clinton and Kaine took the stage. It was a relief to listen to Clinton’s belief that we were stronger together. Most of us had escaped countries led by men that believed only they could fix it all. Her message resonated throughout the arena.
After being warmly introduced by Clinton, Kaine’s first words were, “Hello Miami. Hello FIU. Y bienvenidos a todos - porque todos somos Americanos, todos!” (Welcome to all! Welcome all to our country because we are all American!)
Kaine shared his personal and political history as well as his positions not only on as immigration but also equality, education, an equitable economy, NATO and gun reform. He got that we aren’t a one issue voting block. He honored our humanity as much as our citizenry.
As we giddily filed out of the arena, I saw a lone Trump protester. He was wearing a Trump outfit and was standing defiantly as the crowds mostly walked past, ignoring him. The once blue but now gray skies opened and it started to rain. He scurried under one of the packed tents set up by Hillary’s camp.
The irony of the fact that nobody kicked him out was lost on the Trump protester. But not on us.
In our family, rain has always been considered a good omen. We walked to our car looking forward to the upcoming election events in Philly and excited for what's coming next. Not only for this election, but for our country.