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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Latino Vote 2012: The Elephants In The Room

(This entry can also be found @ http://latinopoliticsblog.com/2010/12/17/latino-vote-2012-the-elephants-in-the-room/ & @ http://cuentamecentral.com/?p=1617)

When the 112th Congress convenes on January 3, 2011, eight Latino Republicans will join the eighteen Latino Democrats on Capitol Hill. Raul Labrador, the first Latino Congressman elected from the State of Idaho, Jaime Herrera, the first Latina Congresswoman elected from the State of Washington, and newly elected Bill Flores from the State of Texas, in the House of Representatives, and Marco Rubio from the State of Florida in the Senate, will work to rebrand the GOP inside the beltway. Fresh from hard won campaign victories, Brian Sandoval, the first Latino elected Governor of Nevada, and Susana Martinez, the first Latina elected Governor of New Mexico, both also Republicans, will find themselves placed on the fast track to starring roles in 2012.

According to Latino Decisions, and Pew Hispanic, with the exception of Rubio, none of these Latinos candidates won the majority of the Latino vote. Rubio carried 55% of Latinos who cast ballots—a number that can be unpacked into two very different statistics: 78% of Cuban-Americans backed Rubio, only 40% of all other Latinos in Florida felt compelled to vote for him. And yet, the bottom line is that nearly one-third of the Latinos in Congress, and these two Latino Swing State Governors, will be members of a political party whose National Convention Platform on immigration and the rule of law reads as follows:

"In an age of terrorism, drug cartels, and criminal gangs, allowing millions of unidentified persons to enter and remain in this country poses grave risks to the sovereignty of the United States and the security of its people… The rule of law means guaranteeing to law enforcement the tools and coordination to deport criminal aliens without delay—and correcting court decisions that have made deportation so difficult. It means enforcing the law against those who overstay their visas, rather than letting millions flout the generosity that gave them temporary entry. It means imposing maximum penalties on those who smuggle illegal aliens into the US… real consequences, including the denial of federal funds, for self-described sanctuary cities… It does not mean driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, nor does it mean that states should be allowed to flout the federal law barring them from giving in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens, nor does it mean that illegal aliens should receive social security benefits, or other public benefits… We oppose amnesty. The rule of law suffers if government policies encourage or reward illegal activity. The American people’s rejection of en masse legalizations is especially appropriate given the federal government’s past failures to enforce the law." (http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/167861/2008-republican-platform-draft/stephen-spruiell)

Given the fact that the plurality of conservative incumbents and Grand Old Party faithful throughout the American political landscape credit the rise of the Tea Party with the electoral victories that led to Republican control of the House of Representatives and the gain of 680 State Legislature seats—elected offices that will allow unilateral control in the process of drawing boundaries for 190 Congressional Districts across the USA—it is unlikely that the rise of Latino Republicans to levels of prominence in the Party, will lead to less Draconian measures. (http://articles.latimes.com/2010/nov/03/news/la-pn-state-legislatures-20101104) On the contrary, anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy proposals will run rampant like wildfire. Figures pouring kerosene will likely include Kentucky’s Rand Paul, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, Utah’s Mike Lee, and Massachusetts’ Scott Brown in the Senate, all of whom publicly thanked Tea Party activists for their volunteer efforts and financial contributions, heaping praise on the Tea Party’s “grassroots leadership,” despite endless evidence of behind-the-curtain, grasstops manipulation by front groups funded by the billionaire Koch brothers.

The first elephant in the room for Latinos who are concerned about keeping families together, and preserving the human dignity and rights of all immigrants is that the rise of Latino Republicans might just mean worse outcomes for Latino immigrants and their families. There are 6.6 million families in which a head of household and/or spouse migrated without authorization. 3.1 million American-born children live in households headed by undocumented immigrants. (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-04-25-mixed-status_x.htm) These mixed-status families live in constant danger of being torn apart under existing law. In order to stay with their family members, American citizens—those born and raised in the United States—are forced to relocate to a foreign country they have never known, because current immigration policies allow them no other viable option. What’s worse, these statistics only include mixed-status families that include citizens, they do not take into account mixed-status families comprised of households where undocumented migrants live with Permanent Residents, those with work permits, and foreign-born students invited to enroll in American academic institutions or professional development programs. According to Frank Sharry of America’s Voice, two-thirds of all mixed-status families, including those whose members belong to subpopulations just named, have been in the US for ten years or more.

This reality of a GOP whose rhetoric and actions are hostile to migrants is not just one impacting the viability of Comprehensive Immigration Reform proposals, and the chances of vital, urgent legislation such as the DREAM Act of receiving an up or down vote in 2011, if they fail to make it to the floor during the “lame duck” session of Congress convening during the brief window of time between now and the holiday season. This reality is one so dire that it even involves Latinos in powerful positions openly waging a war on immigrants in the most vulnerable positions. If you don’t believe this, please take a moment to look up newly elected Congressman Allen West’s Chief of Staff, Spanish-speaking Latina, Joyce Kaufman, on the search engine of your choosing. The Huffington Post highlights her saying, “We should hang you [illegal immigrants] and send your body back to where you came from, and your family should pay for it.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/09/joyce-kaufman-allen-west-chief-of-staff_n_781178.html) That’s just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, the wealth of egregious and incendiary material Kaufman is responsible for found on YouTube alone is too extensive to succinctly summarize.

Democrats had a nearly two-to-one advantage (64% versus 34%) over Republicans in 2010 House races among Latino voters. Moreover, with the exception of Florida, Democratic candidates won the Latino vote in all contests for which exit poll data exists. In Colorado, Tom Tancredo, the former Republican Congressman known for his especially polarizing immigration stance, joined the Governor’s race against Denver Mayor, Democrat John Hickenlooper. But Hickenlooper and Democratic Senate candidate Michael Bennett won the Latino vote by wide margins. They owe their victory to the electoral performance of low to mid propensity Latino voters mobilized via Get Out The Vote campaigns effectuated online by groups like Cuéntame, and on the ground by groups like Mi Familia Vota. In Arizona, although Democrat Terry Goddard lost the overall race to Republican Jan Brewer, he received 71% of the Latino vote. Latinos are solely responsible for saving Congressman Raul Grijalva from early retirement. And the fact that California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer won 65% of the Latino vote, California Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown won 64% of the Latino vote, and Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid won 68% of the Latino vote, serves to explain their victories as well. Latinos represented 8% of all voters in 2010, the same share as they did in 2006 when Democrats “took back” Congress from Republican control. In 2006, 69% of Latinos voted for Democratic candidates in Congressional district races, 30% voted for Republicans. In 2008, 67% of Latinos voted for Democrat Barack Obama, 31% cast ballots for Republican John McCain. More than 19 million Latinos were eligible to vote in the 2010 Midterms, more than at any other time—9% of all eligible voters nationwide in 2010 were Latinos, up from 8.6% in 2006.

Print press pundits and talking heads on cable news have largely focused their attention on the role Arizona’s SB 1070 racial profiling legislation played in solidifying Latino support for Democratic candidates in 2010. An Univision-AP poll published in May demonstrated that 67% of Latinos vehemently opposed the bill. Republican Governor Jan Brewer who signed it into law, and Republican State Senator Russell Pearce who wrote it, became symbols of GOP animus against the Latino community—proponents of racial profiling disguised as “reasonable suspicion,” enemies of Ethnic Studies courses in Arizona’s universities, and proponents of arbitrarily policing the “accents” of K-12 teachers, including monolingual English-speaking Latinos who, didn’t “sound American.” Pearce was named head of the State Senate despite his direct and undeniable connections to white supremacists; in spite of his pledge to defy the 14th Amendment, and cancel automatic citizenship for children born to undocumented mothers. Brewer won reelection despite incontrovertible evidence that she and 30 of SB 1070’s 36 cosponsors received campaign contributions from the for-profit prison industry that co-authored the bill and lobbied legislators to pass it. Make no mistake about it, SB 1070, was a vicious attack on Latinos without an ounce of redemption. The billboard Cuéntame erected in Phoenix reading “Get your papers out: Racial profiling ahead,” was spot on.

And yet, the second elephant in the room is that Latinos who are concerned about keeping families together, and preserving the human dignity and rights of all immigrants have not been rewarded for their overwhelming support of Democratic candidates. Instead of pursuing filibuster-proof Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and vital, urgent legislation such as the DREAM Act with the same all-encompassing zeal it employed in pursuit of Health Insurance Reform, this White House has instead focused on stopping undocumented immigrants from entering the United States and removing undocumented residents already in residence here. The idea that the Obama Administration is unquestionably pro-immigrant is erroneous. Claims made by Republicans, the Tea Party faithful, talk radio hosts, cable news personalities, conservative periodicals, and right-wing bloggers that the Obama Administration has neglected and underfunded border enforcement, in order to gain approval from the pro-amnesty crowd, are bold-faced lies:

The Obama Administration has thrown more drones and security personnel at the border than ever before. It made the E-Verify system, used to determine the immigration status of any part-time or fulltime employee, mandatory for all companies seeking federal contracts. It extended two aggressive enforcement programs: “Secure Communities,” making it mandatory for police to forward the identifying information of anyone they arrest to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and every county along the Southwest border, and “Operation Streamline,” allowing judges to engage in mass sentencing of immigrants caught crossing the border without authorization, instead of treating each migrant as an individual case. And instead of simply relying on Bush-era worksite raids, ICE under this White House has promoted a policy of “Silent Raids,” forcing employers to take action against workers whose Social Security number does not match up with a federal database. (http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_enforcement_paradox) In the first half of the decade, (between 2000 and 2005) an average of 850,000 per year entered the US without authorization, by the end of 2009, that number had been reduced by nearly two-thirds, to 300,000. According to Douglas Massey, a Princeton University professor whose research focuses on migration,
“Life’s gotten pretty miserable for immigrants in the United States,” noting that even for legal immigrants, whether or not they have relatives who are undocumented, the increased scrutiny has been highly stressful.
(http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2010/09/02/report_shows_steep_decline_in_illegal_immigrants_entering_us/) ICE has deported more undocumented immigrants per year under the administration of President Barack Obama than under that of his predecessor, George W. Bush. ICE will deport more than 400,000 people this year alone, 25% more than the Bush Administration deported in 2007. ICE Director, John Morton, stated unequivocally that 400,000 deportations per year represent the absolute maximum number the processing, detention and immigration court system can handle.

In looking ahead to the role the Latino Vote will likely play in Presidential campaign of 2012, it is important for both Democrats and Republicans to reflect upon what occurred on November 2, 2010 in the Swing State of Nevada: 12% of registered voters in Nevada were Latino. Yet Latinos made up 16% of voters taking part in this election, a 13% increase since the last midterm. In the vast majority of states, the deadline to register to vote for this election was during the first week of October. By the time Pew Hispanic’s poll became public on October 5, declaring that 50% of Latino registered voters were planning on skipping out on the midterm election, the voter registration deadline had passed most everywhere. But not in Nevada: Thousands and thousands of voters registered in Nevada before the October 12 deadline thanks to Cuéntame’s online efforts, and a ground game executed by groups like the Hispanic Institute that registered 10,223 Latino voters in Clark County alone. 50% of Latino voters took advantage of early voting opportunities in Nevada, thus making shorter Election Day lines at polling places possible, and the likelihood of rapid responses to the vast majority of election protection issues probable. Nevada Latino voters rejected racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Latino political messages delivered by non-Hispanic whites. Nevada Latino voters rejected campaigns championing abstention from political participation, offered by Hispanic political strategists who wrongly believed Latinos could be manipulated by hypocrites, wolves in sheep’s clothing, and convinced to stay home on the basis of frustration with one political issue alone. Nevada Latino voters showed up in record numbers, and outperformed other voters when it counted.

Cuéntame and its partners will not allow the GOP to scapegoat Latinos, and use members of our community as political punching bags in their effort to win control of the White House in 2012. Regardless of whether or not the Republicans delivering the blows have Hispanic surnames, or Latino heritage. By the same token, we will not simply take Democrats at their word. While immigration is not the only issue that matters to Latinos, and it would be foolish to ignore the fact that millions of Latinos will benefit from policies championed by this White House, the Obama Administration’s reluctance to go all-in on legislative proposals such as the DREAM Act, that once boasted bipartisan support, has eroded the credibility and trust he earned on the campaign trail. Candidate Obama’s pledge to mend the broken immigration system stands in sharp contrast to President Obama’s hyper border enforcement and mass deportation policies.

In order to hold both Democratic and Republican feet to the fire, and win the war currently being waged on immigrants—the most vulnerable members of our community—we need to legal residents who are eligible to begin the process of naturalization, and those who are citizens to register to vote long before 2012: 52,000 Latino youth turn 18 every month. 8.5 million Latinos in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Texas alone, are already eligible to vote, but have yet to register. We have the power to more than double the Latino Vote by 2050. By introducing new voices into the political process, we will never again find ourselves forced to choose between candidates who demonize us with their rhetoric while demoralizing us with their policies, and those who make bold pronouncements while dragging their feet on our priorities until the final weeks before Election Day.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Day After...

(This entry can also be found @ http://cuentamecentral.com/?p=1579)

First she went after Latino students seeking a path to college or the military through the DREAM Act (http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=156949807669862). Then, she went after Latinos in general using political ads depicting Latinos as welfare check cashing, drug dealing, street gang members (http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=162670083764501). And not to be outdone by other rampant racist candidates, she promoted an online board game so offensive (http://www.harryreidamnestygame.com/) that the makers of the board game “Monopoly” sent her a “cease and desist” letter (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/01/sharron-angle-hasbro-cease-desist_n_777107.html).

Who is she?

Tea Party supported Republican Nevada Senate candidate Sharon Angle.

Did she win?


Although the race between incumbent Democrat Harry Reid and challenger Sharon Angle remained “too close to call” long after polls closed, one bit of exit poll data served as a clear weathervane: 90% of Latinos surveyed by MSNBC voted for Reid.

According to the Washington Post, 50% of Latino voters took advantage of early voting opportunities in Nevada. This represents a 13% increase since the last midterm election. One quarter of Nevadans are Latino, many are children, too young to vote, or immigrants who have yet to become citizens. 12% of all of the registered voters in Nevada are Latino. And yet Latinos made up 16% of voters taking part in this election. In other words, Latinos rejected Sharon Angle’s racist ads, showed up in record numbers, and outperformed other voters when it counted.

There will be a great deal of discussion about the Latino Vote in 2010, but everything you need to know about what will matter to the Latino Vote in 2012 you can learn by looking at Nevada. Latino votes for Reid did not come because the second he introduced the DREAM Act as an add on to the Defense Appropriations Bill, Latino voters went in droves to the Democratic Party like lemmings. Reid’s commitment to keep reintroducing DREAM until it finally had an up or down vote earned him a commitment from the national network of DREAM Act activists to make peer-to-peer contact with Latino voters. Undocumented students and their allies used traditional field tools like phonecalls and door-to-door canvasses, but they also maximized social media and online tools. National networks of youth multi-ethnic, multistate organizations, such as the Generational Alliance, used voter guides, mixtapes, ground events, and alliances in ways that added to the reach, volume, and capacity to peer-to-peer engagement efforts that in many ways eclipsed those run by Organizing for America, the Democratic Party’s 2.0 version of the 2008 Obama Presidential campaign. Cuéntame, the most popular Latino organization on Facebook, worked with undocumented students and responded when Sharon Angle attacked Harry Reid for introducing the DREAM Act. Cuéntame, translated the Generational Alliance’s voter guide for monolingual Spanish speakers and shared it in both languages with voters in Nevada. And Cuéntame’s deconstruction of Sharon Angle’s most racist ad traveled from Facebook, to Twitter, to email, to the media.

Pundits will discuss the fact that every single major national Latino organization denounced the so-called “Latinos for Reform” and their campaign discouraging Latinos from voting. Cuéntame’s rapid response to “Latinos for Reform” (http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=160651357299707 & http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=160644320633744) earned us immediate print and television coverage. Hopefully, this means that pundits and politicians finally understand that Latinos are not a one-issue electorate. While immigration reform is immensely important, it is not the only thing that Latino voters care about. We are not greyhounds who will chase it around any track. To be clear, with their record participation Nevada Latino voters loudly rejected Sharon Angle’s racist tactics, and everything about “Latinos for Reform.” Primarily because Latinos felt that the rationale offered by the organization for not voting was unsound. Latinos very quickly witnessed “Latinos for Reform” challenged by organizations such as Cuéntame, and also saw Robert de Posada dissected by media voices such as Maria Teresa Kumar, the Executive Director of Voto Latino, who ably pointed out on more than one occasion that de Posada was a National Republican Party insider who, despite all of his abstention rhetoric, voted early in this election.

The one extremely critical factor that pundits will likely miss is the role that the late voter registration deadline in Nevada played in Reid’s victory over Angle. In the vast majority of states, the deadline to register to vote for this election was during the first week of October. By the time Pew Hispanic’s poll became public on October 5, declaring that 50% of Latino registered voters were planning on skipping out on the midterm election, the voter registration deadline had passed most everywhere. But not in Nevada, or California. Thousands and thousands of voters registered in Nevada before the October 12 deadline, and in California before the October 18 deadline. Cuéntame partnered with United We Win (Voto Latino), Ya Es Hora (NALEO, AltaMed, etc.), PowerPAC Foundation, and a number of other partners to register voters online and in person during the months of September and October. The numbers of voters we registered alone constitute enough voters to move a number of the close races pundits will debate when examining the results of this midterm election. It is no coincidence that a surge in late voter registration in California, for instance, created the Latino electorate that made Democrat Jerry Brown the next Governor of California. A simple Google search will reveal that Latino registered voters were not terribly excited about Brown initially. Republican Meg Whitman appealed to Latinos through huge ad buys on Univision, billboards in Latino enclaves like Boyle Heights, by opening campaign offices in places like East L.A., and by appearing with Latino leaders, hiring Latino staffers, and taking shots of tequila with Mexican Mariachis (http://vodpod.com/watch/4692604-mariachi-politics-taken-to-a-new-level-with-carly-fiorina-meg-whitman). There will be much discussion of Nicky Diaz Santillan and her press conference with Gloria Allred, and how this led to Meg Whitman’s loss of Latino support. But again, as was the case in Nevada this is not a sign that Latinos only care about the immigration issue. It is proof that Latinos refused to be used as political pawns. What led to Whitman’s demise was not that her maid was undocumented, but that she was fired solely because Whitman wanted to run for office. It’s not just that Whitman opposed the DREAM Act, it’s that in a debate on Univision, the network where she aired ad after ad swearing that she cared about Latino educational achievement, Whitman told a young Latina that she was lucky to have received her K through 12 education, but did not deserve to go to college because she would be “taking someone else’s place.” SEIU called this phenomenon of juxtaposed paradox “las dos caras de Meg Whitman” (“the two faces of Meg Whitman”). And Facebook/YouTube users captured it through a parody song called “Old Meg Whitman Had A Farm, E-I-E-I-O” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SsEcJh8q5E). The bottom line, however, is that just as Latinos in Nevada refused to be Sharon Angle’s scapegoat, Latinos in California rejected Meg Whitman’s bait and switch. It’s not clear who convinced Meg Whitman that Latinos would trust slick ads in Spanish, despite the fact that these ads directly contradicted all of her ads in English, but whomever that person is should be fired because he/she cost Meg Whitman the election. It turns out, $163 million later, Latino voters understood multiple languages, and were not for sale.

Anyway, as I said, there will be a great deal of discussion about the Latino Vote in 2010, but everything you need to know about what will matter to the Latino Vote in 2012 you can learn by looking at Nevada. Latino voters sent Harry Reid back to the Senate, but did not give all Democratic candidates across the board a thumbs-up. Democrat Rory Reid lost the Nevada Governor’s race to Republican Brian Sandoval. Latinos in Nevada and in New Mexico played a role in electing Republicans to the office of Statewide Executive. Latinos in Florida played a role in sending Marco Rubio to the Senate. This is an important lesson for Democrats who are already planning President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, and for Republican would-be challengers ready to throw their hat into the 2012 Presidential race:

At one time, George W. Bush enjoyed the support of 44% of Latino voters. He lost this support because of an increasing quagmire in Iraq, a rapidly unfolding economic crisis, the unfunded mandate of “No Child Left Behind,” a culture of leadership that rewarded, “Yes men,” but told those associated with controversy to fall on their swords and go away, etc. It was not because he failed to promote Latino officials to high offices, such as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. It was not because he failed to use the bully pulpit to promote immigration reform. It was not because he failed to reach out to Latinos through churches and ambassadors such as the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.

Barack Obama won office with 67% of the Latino vote. He might lose this support because of a quagmire in Afghanistan, a slow recovery from the economic crisis, the controversy ignited by “Race to the Top,” a culture of leadership that rewards, “Yes men,” but tells Van Jones, Yosi Sergant, Desiree Rogers, and so forth, to fall on their swords and go away, etc. It won’t be because he failed to promote Latino officials to high offices, such as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. It won’t be because he failed to use the bully pulpit to promote immigration reform. It won’t be because he failed to reach out to Latinos through churches and ambassadors such as the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans…

But it might be because Latinos don’t feel his heart is in it.

After witnessing how much time and effort and sacrifice were involved in guaranteeing a filibuster proof majority in the Senate during the process of health care insurance reform, Latino voters are well aware of what it looks like when this White House goes all in. To win reelection, President Obama must carry Latino passions with him every step of the way on the road to 2012. If he does not, Latinos will be extremely unlikely to respond to a campaign effort that suddenly hires Latino staffers, recruits Latino volunteers, and only works to make itself visible in Latino communities during the weeks that lead up to the first Tuesday in November.

(Please visit @ http://www.facebook.com/cuentame)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election Day Thoughts On The 2010 Latino Vote:

(This entry can also be found @ http://cuentamecentral.com/?p=1577)

It’s mid-afternoon in California, but my Blackberry has been ringing and buzzing since before sunrise…

Spanish-speaking voters in California received notices in their mailboxes that due a technical problem, the election has been moved. This is a deceitful and fraudulent attempt to keep Latinos from voting today. It is a lie. It is wrong. It is a crime. It is also a smart tactic to suppress the Latino vote and steal the election:

While tampering with the contents of someone’s mailbox is a federal offense, as is providing someone with knowingly false information about an election, this tactic serves to redirect resources, and prevents campaigns from turning out as many voters to the polls. Please remember that the average campaign office only has a handful of people responsible for making thousands of phonecalls and knocking on thousands of doors. Once someone has been contacted, the campaign staffer or volunteer responsible for reaching out to a lengthy list of voters moves on to the next person on the list. If this staffer or volunteer has to double back and make sure that no one was fooled by some official looking notice, or official sounding phonecall, that contains misinformation, this increases the chances that someone further down on that list won’t get contacted. In addition, while staffers and volunteers spend their time chasing after the recipients of the misinformation, they are more likely to miss calls from people who need language assistance, or a ride to the polls. Because this is all happening on Election Day, this means that people calling to report problems at their place of voting are now competing for the attention of these very same staffers and volunteers.

We all remember the 2000 Florida Recount that the Supreme Court voted to end that made George W. Bush President, but did you know John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960 by one vote per polling place. Al Franken won a Senate race in November 2008, and was not sworn in until July 2009, because the results of the election were so close. In 2006, (during the last midterm election cycle) Oklahoma’s 25th Congressional District seat was claimed by a victor who earned exactly two votes more than his opponent.

It pains me to admit, but voter suppression tactics work well to change the outcome of close elections.

And the only way to really and truly combat these slimy entities that operate without morals or ethics is to make sure all who are eligible register before the deadline, and actually vote in each and every election.

Take for example the City of Bell, one that has been in the headlines lately because of all of the profiteering and corrupt practices elected and appointed administrators have been able to get away with for the last several years. Bell has over 10,000 registered voters, but only 500 of these voters have participated in six out of the last six elections. It is hard to believe Bell taxpayers would have had their money stolen if Bell voters were more engaged during election years that did not have a President or Governor on the ballot.

There are approximately 6 million Latinos in New York, Florida, California, and Texas alone, who are US citizens, eligible to vote, but have yet to register, and are unlikely to participate in the 2010 election. Why?

Maybe because the English-language media sometimes asks pundits about the “Hispanic vote,” yet never actually engages in a dialogue with Latino voters. But perhaps also because we enable the excuses our friends and families give us for not registering to vote before the deadline, or if registered, for not actually voting on Election Day—we have to be willing to push back if friends and family members are not voting!

In order to do away with discrimination—the bigotry and bias of individuals, as well as the systemic, pervasive and habitual policies that institutionalize the racism and xenophobia that harm Latinos
in housing, lending, (redlining) employment, and education—we must vote today and in all elections!

Almost 60% of all Americans go online through a wireless laptop or a cell phone. This statistic is not based solely on the activities of teens and twenty-somethings. Over 43 percent of people between the ages of 30 and 49 access the Internet through a wireless connection. If we note that African American and Hispanic WiFi consumers are at the forefront of mobile-Web adoption, and that more than 50 percent of Latinos and over 46 percent of African Americans access the Internet on their phones, compared with 33 percent of non-Hispanic whites. Then we must conclude that many Latinos can access the many places online where US citizens can register to vote. They choose not to. And it is this choice we must confront.

Of the 46 million Latinos in the USA, 60% have been citizens since birth. If those who have always had the power to vote elected representatives that supported the DREAM Act, for instance, automatically nearly 2 million more young Latinos would be on the path to citizenship and voting. If those who have always had the power to vote helped the 40% of Latinos who were born abroad get on the path to citizenship and voting, we would never again see injustices like the kinds we’ve seen recently:

Does anyone think Governor Brewer and her state legislature would have unleashed racial profiling law SB1070, if the 30% of Arizonans who are Latino actually voted?

Does anyone think if the same number of Latinos in California voted in every election as watch TV every week that 50% of Latino homes in California would have gone into foreclosure?

Does anyone think if the 100,000 eligible Latino voters in Pennsylvania were to register tomorrow, and vote in each and every future election, that any elected judge would ever again allow an all white jury to acquit two white men responsible for beating a Latino immigrant to death?

I can’t tell you how absolutely crazy it made me at the beginning of October when a Pew Hispanic poll said that nearly half of all registered Latino voters were planning on skipping the election. Or when those wolves in sheep’s clothing calling themselves, “Latinos For Reform” released ads in English and Spanish telling Latinos not to vote. Make no mistake about it, Latinos, already have the power to decide elections in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, etc. Telling Latinos not to vote in any of these States constitutes a blatant attempt to muzzle Latino voices. A relentless barrage of political ads aimed at convincing white voters that Latinos are gangs of thugs who cross the border in packs of “illegals” in order to commit crimes, collect welfare checks, and send their kids to college on someone else’s dime, constitute a blatant attempt to discredit Latino voices… It’s like there’s a war against us.

In the United States of America, it is now more common for a young Latino (man) to go to prison than to go from high school to college. And a young Latina (woman) is now seven times more likely to have kids, and live in poverty because she never finished her degree, than any of her white peers. One-third of young Latinos already live below the poverty line. And with so many dropouts, with so few going to college, and with so few living wage jobs, things are only going to get worse… Unless, of course, Latinos always vote:

City and County elections are important. These local officials are the ones with the power to decide what kind of taxes you will have to pay monthly, how much money will go to neighborhood and charter schools, how many police and firefighters are there to help you, if someone will pick up your garbage and how often, etc. Again, just ask the residents of Bell how critically important it is to engage citizens in local politics. Yet today’s 2010 Midterm election is critically important for another reason. There are more than 30 gubernatorial contests going on, and the outcome of today’s races will influence the boundaries of every single last Congressional District until 2020. South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Indiana, and Georgia, for example, are poised to add 1 to 3 new members each to the House of Representatives. The idea that only elections in years when we select a President are important is a false notion. Every election is critical and has several long lasting implications. I encourage you to develop a tradition in which everyone comes together and participates in voting the same way everyone comes together and participates in a wedding.

Each time we vote, we have the power to change our lives, as well as the lives of others. And the only way to get others to stop pinning the blame on Latinos for illegal drug trafficking, overwhelmed emergency rooms, public health crises, excessively high crime rates, overcrowded prisons, the length of unemployment lines, strained welfare roles, school violence, test scores that compare unfavorably to those of other nations, and so on, and so forth is to VOTE today, Tuesday, November 2, 2010, and in every upcoming election.

Robert de Posada, the founder of “Latinos For Reform,” cast a ballot. After making such a huge stink in the press, and with the public, after insisting that Latinos should not show up on Election Day, he voted. And the sleazy, shady crowd who told Latinos in California not to vote today, already voted as well. Trust.

Polls are not closed on the East Coast. You have until 8 pm to get in line. Here in CA, 4 hours remain…

(Please visit @ http://www.facebook.com/cuentame)