I am urging everyone I know, don’t know, don’t like, and even talk bad about to get off their Laz-y Boys and go out and vote tomorrow. No excuses- not even from all my aunts whose backsides resemble their sofas and think they make a difference by yelling at Fox TV.
This is a historic election cycle.
No, not because it’s a presidential election or a Mormon may be elected for the first time or you’re mad that Romney has Mexican amnesia.
It is important because this is the first presidential election since the 2010 census declared Latinos the fastest growing minority, creating the buzz around the power of the Latino vote. This is the first election where issues important to Latinos were being polled for and often discussed. This is the first election cycle where people south of the Mason-Dixon line realized Jorge Ramos is not Anderson Cooper. This is the first election where the Spanish ads were as abundant and as annoying as the English ones.
And most importantly, this is the first time there has been a well-funded, concerted and consistent effort to suppress the minority vote through countless Voter ID laws and English-only initiatives.
There have been many successful Latino voter drivers for the 2012 election but now you need to show up. There are 24 million Latino eligible voters this time around, over 4 million more since the last presidential election and every single one needs to come out and vote. Despite the large numbers of registered Latino voters, Latinos are pegged as unengaged politically and as non-voters, which is a correct perception.
You can change that today.
For those that don’t care much about presidential politics each state has its own slate of candidates and important issues to engage you. Depending on where you live you might help legalize pot, deny other humans the right to marry the person of their choosing or be able to take a lethal cocktail of drugs if terminally ill.
In Maryland, Latinos should and must come out in droves to vote their heart in the Maryland DREAM Act which if passed would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates. In Montana if Referendum 121 is passed it will deny state services to the undocumented and in Puerto Rico, voters will decide whether or not they will become the 51st state. All issues worthy even for shut-in’s to leave their homes and go to their local voting booth.
I don’t care if you are politically illiterate with the attention span of a gnat. Go and Vote. I don’t’ care that you think you can’t make a difference because you really haven’t most of your life now is the time to turn the tide and go and vote. I don’t care if you think you know who is going to win. You don’t. No one does not even Nate Silver.
To my familia that does not vote: You can no longer bitch about the male, pale and stales running the country and your reproductive organs. You can no longer complain that they stopped your barely-brown cousin in Arizona. You can no longer complain when they keep referring to your relatives as illegal when they are undocumented. You can no longer complain that your kids are getting last years textbooks, and you have to go to high-cost, low-quality neighborhood clinics. You can no longer complain when your unemployment benefits are challenged and you’re labeled as ‘marginally attached’ to the economy when you are working two jobs.
And most importantly you can no longer complain when you think elected officials don’t know you exist - they don’t.
GO AND VOTE and they won’t forget you.
Estelle Gonzales Walgreen
Editor-in-Chief, Hispanically Speaking News