By Paul Moss
BBC News, Chicago
It is not much fun interviewing Carlos Tortolero. He shouts so loudly that you find yourself continually backing away, to avoid having your ear-drums split by his angry invective against the US political system.
The National Museum of Mexican Art recognises the contribution of Latinos
And he has a self-consciously cynical view of politics and the world.
"Politics is all about power, and how to get it!" he yells at me, as I cower on the other side of his vast desk.
"The African-American community, women, Jews - they are ahead in how to assert power.
"We Latinos have to learn how to work the system."
Mr Tortolero is director of Chicago's National Museum of Mexican Art, an impressive building in the heart of Pilsen, the city's Latino district.
It was built to emphasise the positive contribution that Mexican-Americans have made to the US, and to the world.
But in terms of politics, that contribution remains more limited.
Latinos have a traditionally low turnout come voting day. More importantly, many will tell you that their wishes are ignored by the political system.
"The candidates don't want to speak about immigration," says Mirna Alvarez, a children's group supervisor.
Like many Mexican-Americans I have met, she says this is the most important issue in deciding how will she vote. Ms Alvarez wants to see more Latinos allowed to come to the US.
"The candidates are afraid to make a commitment on this because they are afraid that other groups will turn against them," she says.
"You don't hear about the positive work Latinos have done. You just hear about the raids on factories and the illegals they have found."
Ms Alvarez is speaking in a year when the votes of minorities have had more attention than previously, and for one obvious reason - that the Democratic Party candidate for the presidency comes himself from a minority background.
But opinion seems split on whether this should be a source of inspiration to Latinos.
Asking people on the street in Pilsen, I heard a few shamelessly racist comments about black people, with some suggesting resentfully that the "only reason" some people would vote for Obama was because of his colour.
But others were delighted to see an African-American get this far.
John McCain made a much-publicised trip to Mexico this year
"He's actually standing for all the minorities that are here in the US," one second-generation Mexican-American told me. "I'm just proud."
Another woman gushed also about Sarah Palin's place on the Republican Party ticket.
"We're going to have our first black American president, or our first female vice-president. For me, personally, that means I could make it to be president of the United States. It's just amazing."
But the fact remains that this is a community in which many are alienated from the political system.
Very few people I stopped on the street had anything to say about the forthcoming election, and more than half could not speak English at all.
It was noticeable, too, that some people who were very enthusiastic about the election were people who refused to define themselves by their ethnicity.
"I don't look at the election as a Latino voter," a young businessman named Javier told me, as he ate lunch in The Jumping Bean, a rather trendy local cafe.
"I look at the economy, foreign policy. My parents migrated to America, I'm the first to go to college. Are we Latinos? Yes. Do we want to be grouped with everybody else? For me, personally, no."
But that will not stop the candidates trying to tap the Latino vote, whatever that might mean.
Both parties are seeking to encourage Latino voters to back their candidate
John McCain made a much-publicised trip to Mexico earlier this year.
Barack Obama talked about amnesties for illegal immigrants, though he has moved away from this position since winning the nomination.
But neither of them can hope for a vote from Mr Tortolero, at the National Museum of Mexican Art.
"Why take part in a process that does not do anything for my community?" he asks. Not waiting for an answer to this question, he goes on quickly to underline his point.
"Politics is about what's in it for me. And our community has always been left out."
The radio version of Paul Moss's report will run on BBC Radio 4's World Tonightprogramme, on Wednesday 17 September.