By: Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, CEO, Latino Community Foundation
There are 89 days before Americans elect the 45th Commander-in-Chief. The thought of this day may bring feelings of excitement, fear, frustration or hope. But there is one feeling we cannot afford to have: apathy.
Civic participation is the cornerstone of any democracy. The U.S. lags behind most of its peer countries — landing 31 amongst the 35 most developed democratic countries. In 2012, voter turnout was 53% in the US. For Latinos, it was a disturbing 17%.
If the contentious and polemical headlines have not convinced you that there is an urgent need for Latinos —and all Americans— to Get Out The Vote; then let me offer three reasons for you to consider.
This election is bigger than any one personality. This election is not about Trump or Clinton. The next four to eight years will determine whether or not this country lives up to the ideals and values that the Nation was founded on. Put aside the divisive rhetoric, misinformation, misrepresentation, or ill-informed tweets, the next President of the United States will appoint at least one, if not four, Supreme Court Judges. With key issues related to our economy, immigration policies, climate change, and gun control – it is more important than ever that our voices are heard. So if you care about our Nation’s Future… Vote!
Our democracy depends on our participation. At a national level, every 30 seconds a Latino citizen turns 18 and becomes eligible to vote. In 2016, there will be 27 million Latino voters in this country — nearly 12% of all eligible voters in the U.S. With the size and the growing number of eligible voters, Latinos have the power to influence the direction of our country-and safeguard our democracy for generations to come. California may not be a swing state, but we have the opportunity (and some would say the responsibility) as the largest Latino voting bloc, to lead the way. So if you care about our Democracy… Vote!
Important measures on California’s 2016 ballot. If your reaction to the election cycle is “well neither of the candidates represent my personal views or values.” Then consider this: there are 17 ballot measures that will greatly impact the prospective future of California’s education, healthcare, and criminal justice system. For example, SB1174 will repeal Proposition 227 and allow school districts to decide whether they want to bring back bilingual education. Proposition 57, will allow parole consideration for people convicted for non-violent felonies and determine whether young people at the age of 14 and older should be prosecuted and sentenced as adults. So if you care about the future of our youth in California… Vote!
I started by saying that the only emotion we cannot afford to have is apathy. I want to conclude by saying that there is one emotion we should all have: hope.
Whether you are eligible to vote or not, remember that this country was founded on the ideals that every person is created equal. We have a lot of work to do to make this ideal a reality for every individual that calls this nation ‘Home’. Yet, what makes this country great is the possibility that equality can be attained! And, every step we have made to get closer to this ideal has required action from ordinary people —like you and me— to be part of something greater than ourselves.
Let us honor the sacrifice of our parents, grandparents, and ancestors. Let us protect the dreams of our sons, daughters, nieces, and nephews — and VOTE!
And, if you can’t vote yet — organize, inform, help register your friends, neighbors, and the family members that can.
Whatever you do — TAKE ACTION!