This chant (“Yes We Can!” or “¡Sí Se Puede!”) was introduced to the mainstream in the last Presidential election. Supporters of Barack Obama appropriated it and made it their rallying cry. If people have no problem hijacking Scripture to achieve whatever end, why not some silly phrase to usher in an era of perceived hope and change?
I say appropriated because the phrase did come from somewhere, and no I’m not talking about Bob the Builder (“Can we fix it? Yes we can!”).
The phrase is one of México’s contributions to the world of sports fanaticism. If memory serves me correct, I first heard it during the 1998 World Cup. It was used by the masses to support the national team as they went up against European powers such as the Netherlands (2-2 tie) and Germany (1-2 loss). Here’s an action shot from that match,
So close Luis, yet so far…
It makes sense why the Mexican collective would concoct such a phrase, given my native land’s ya merito (close but no cigar) performances every 4 years. They look great against top-flight competition, give us all hope of a breakthrough and then get barely beaten in elimination games. There was Germany in ’86, Bulgaria in ’94, Germany again in ’98, USA (this one still hurts) in ’02, and Argentina in ’06. I expect this upcoming World Cup to be no different, but I hope I’m wrong.
I guess I could also go on how the phrase reflects the class struggle that has been the fulcrum of México’s troubled history.
Which brings us full circle to the re-emergence of the phrase at recent protests against a law in Arizona which requires peace officers to ask for proof of legal status.
The law only applies in Arizona, for now, but 7,000 people took to the streets here in H-town in protest. They, of course, made copious use of this phrase.
I agree, this law is ridiculous and is probably unconstitutional. If you’re against nationalized health-care because it’s unconstitutional then why aren’t you against this law? But I digress…
Back to the marchers, I just have one thing to ask: Stop using this slogan.
It doesn’t apply here. “Yes We Can”, what? What can you do? Even if this was law here in Texas, what can you do? It’s obvious that Congress isn’t doing anything about immigration reform. It’ll cost too much politically to do so.
Come up with something better and leave this phrase where it belongs, when we root for our beloved Tri come June 11th.