Santa Barbara, CA — Once again we are headed for another historical Presidential election. And, once again, the Latino vote is being questioned on whether or not it will live up to it’s potential. When will the doubt about Latino voter participation end?
I recall reading and writing about this back in 2004. Yet, here we are twelve years later and, while some progress has been made, it’s still way below where we should be.
According to the latest PEW Research data Latinos continue to grow into a potential voting powerhouse:
“Hispanic millennials will account for nearly half (44%) of the record 27.3 million Hispanic eligible voters projected for 2016-a share greater than any other racial or ethnic group of voters, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.”
Nevertheless, the article goes on to point out four main reasons to doubt whether or not the Latino vote will maximize this potential:
1. Voter turnout rates for Hispanics have been significantly below those of other groups. In 2012, fewer than half (48%) of Hispanic eligible voters cast a ballot. By comparison, 64.1% of whites and 66.6% of blacks voted. (Asians, at 46.9%, had a turnout rate similar to that of Hispanics.)
2. Latino millennials register to vote at a lower rate than other millennial groups. Half (50%) of Latino millennial eligible voters said they were registered to vote in 2012, compared with 61% among white millennials and 64% among black millennials. Among Asian millennial eligible voters, 48% were registered to vote.
3. Few states with large Hispanic populations are likely to be key battlegrounds. In other words, States like California, Texas, and New York are heavily populated with Hispanics, but historically Presidential candidates already know the majority of their votes will go to the Democratic Nominee and therefore they pay little attention to and invest little time and money in trying to encourage Latino voter turnout.
It’s a shame that we can be taken for granted like this.
And, when you think about it, being taken for granted hasn’t been all that great. If it had, why do we continue to have all the economic, educational, political and immigration problems we’ve had for decades? What’s changed?
4. More than half (52%) of the national Latino population is either too young to vote or does not hold U.S. citizenship. By comparison, just 20% of the nation’s white population is not eligible to vote for the same reasons, as is 28% of the black population and 44% of the Asian population.
Thus, as community leaders–many of which are a part of this affiliate member list–I encourage us all to do what we can to encourage our Latino constituents, especially those that fall into the above two categories, to become eligible voters. For those who do not hold U.S. citizenship–If they are eligible–to get on a path to citizenship. And once they have accomplished these two things–then actually get out of the marginalized stands of spectator-ship and get into the mainstream of voter-ship!
WE THE PEOPLE
According to the United States Constitution our government is supposed to be “of the people, by the people and for the people.” So, let me ask you. Do you feel, or believe, or think our current state of the government is of you, by you and FOR YOU? Do you…that’s what I thought. Of course not. And that’s the way it will continue until enough of THE PEOPLE wake up and decide to exercise their God given citizenship rights–refuse to cooperate with the stupidity of the unconstitutional policies that are being shoved down our throats–from both political parties–and the first step in causing that change is by exercising your right to vote!
But, Wait! There’s More…
In addition to the issue of strengthening the Latino voting block, consider the need for better leadership. This is and has been one of our organizations core themes in providing funding, executive coaching, technical assistance and organizational capacity building for nonprofits serving Latino youth & families since 2004.
In regards to better leadership – we have a two prong approach:
1. Our parent leadership curriculum–“Parents on a Mission”, which is being implemented in various parts of California and several States across the country. Our contention is that “parents cannot be replaced by programs” and quality of life and citizenship starts in the home-life of every individual.
2. Secondly, in regards to reproducing future Latino leaders, I wrote a book and study guide, From The Margins to The Mainstream, as a mentoring resource for preparing Latino youth for leadership in the twenty-first century as an added tool for those schools and organizations focused on youth leadership.
Government Leadership With An Eye On The Future
As important as voting is, it’s understandable, given our current Presidential candidates, why many Americans of all ethnic backgrounds, don’t bother to vote at all.
On the one side we have three people with no political experience: One a reality TV star and Real Estate Mogul (who happens to be leading in the race for the Republican nominee). The other a woman from the private business sector. And a doctor, who I believe has the best of intentions, but perhaps not the best of qualifications. These three are followed by a bunch of career politicians; a qualification most people in America have lost confidence in to lead us out of the mess were in on a variety of fronts.
On the other side we have an actual self-professed “Socialist” leading in the polls as the Democratic nominee for President. Something that would never have been possible in America just a few short years ago. Followed by a woman with enough years of scandal baggage to fill an airplane, a lifestyle of privileged elitism, and sub-standard ethics that only emphasizes the point that “the rule of law” doesn’t apply equally to everybody.
However, as much as we can find fault with our current Presidential candidates, the important point is really the statement it makes on the condition of our country from a moral, spiritual, and competency of leadership perspective.
Bottom Line: We Need Better Future Leaders
There’s a lot of talk about “taking our country back”, and “making our country great again”, “restoring the middle class”, and “making the rich pay their fair share of taxes”, etc. However, we’ve heard it all before, none of it’s going to happen and nothing is going to change by more of the same government politics, policies and programs forced on us from the Federal levels of government. Local community issues are not solved from Washington DC and neither should we expect them to be.
Minorities Stop Complaining And Start Playing
As minorities we can complain all we want, and rightfully so. But until we get off the margins and into the mainstream it’s all just a bunch of ineffective noise.
In closing, I leave you with this excerpt from my book as I describe what I call “Heroes of Hardship.” Something I believe we need more of as we keep our heart and eyes on the future of our country.
Any honest person in America knows that all minorities in this country have not gotten a fair share of opportunity. We all know that unqualified people have received and been promoted into positions of power and authority that they neither deserved nor were qualified for simply because of their race.
Latinos are no stranger to this type of injustice, prejudice, and discrimination. We accept that “white privilege” exists, plain and simple, and could go on listing the things that we could rightfully complain about. Nevertheless, complaining about something is never enough, and we’ve been complaining as victims long enough. We’ve acted like second stringers sitting on the bench, grumbling about why we should be playing, pointing out all the fumbles and mistakes of those on the field. We’ve complained that if we were only given a chance, we could prove ourselves worthy of that starting position, that salary, that job. I’ve said it myself and heard it from plenty of other friends and relatives for years. But it’s time for the bench griping to end. Our opportunity has arrived, our number has been called, and it’s time to perform. The real question is . . . do we really want in the game? Can we really play at the first-class level? Can we deliver in the clutch situations? Are we ready to play in the big leagues of life and leadership? I believe we are, and part of accepting the leadership challenge is embracing the following mindset of what I call “Heroes of Hardship”:
Racism and discrimination are realities we must live with, but we choose to move beyond self-pity.
Playing on an uneven field is hard, but we still choose to compete.
Playing without the breaks of the privileged is unfair, but we still choose to achieve our God-given potential.
Playing with two strikes against us is challenging, but we choose not to strike out.
Playing with extra emotional baggage is draining, but we choose to rise above emotion.
Playing with one hand tied behind our backs is awkward, but we choose to make the best of the hand we’ve been dealt in life.