Today is National Voter Registration Day; a day when organizations across the country reach out to their respective communities encouraging them to register and turn out to vote.
In light of the President’s recent decision to delay executive action that would provide administrative relief for millions of immigrant families until after the midterm elections, I’ve come across a handful of op-ed pieces urging immigrant rights voters to voice their displeasure with their elected officials by abstaining from voting this cycle.
I have also seen Washington talking heads attempt to argue that the Latino and immigrant vote is guaranteed – politicians can take for granted that our communities will support them, no matter their betrayal or attacks.
As leaders within the Fair Immigration Reform Movement wrote last week:
We are not in the business of winning elections for the sake of parties. We are building our power to serve the interests and needs of our families. The short-sighted focus by some on a 2014 electoral map that is concededly being fought mostly in places where our power is more nascent will be flipped in 2016. Both parties will need us. Democrats will come back in Congress only if they appeal to our voters, and Republicans can put the White House in the “forever lost column” right now if they continue to alienate us.
Through that lens, it’s not a matter of whether Latinos and immigrants will show up and vote but how they will vote. At a time when both parties are making one unforced error after the other, the answer is simple: Latinos and immigrants will hold politicians accountable to our families. Neither the hatred from the GOP nor the weak spines of the many Democrats will suppress our community’s vote or power.
Our movement’s protests, rallies and acts of civil disobedience are only one side of the coin; what we need, now more than ever, is to continue to make our voices heard— both politically and electorally. Our community’s vote should serve as a reminder to those who stymie progress: our issues affect millions and need to be addressed— if not by politicians currently in office, then by politicians who will take up our mantle and fight for our communities.
In any given cycle, myriad issues and ideas are vying for politicians’ attention and effort; we can’t afford to sit an election out and expect our needs to be addressed. The political system doesn’t work like that. Our community’s fight has been exhausting, yes, and a long time coming. Now is the time to keep pushing by using every resource at our disposal to show our power – including by casting our ballots this November.
In my opinion, every day should be National Voter Registration Day. I remain committed, now more than ever, to making sure our voices and needs are represented in the day’s political debate; I sincerely hope you are too. If you haven’t already, make sure you register today. If you have, get your friends to register as well. And just as importantly, make sure to vote in November. We can’t afford not to.