Today, with the 2012 elections looming before us, we must ensure that the national movement we’ve helped to build has the clout to make our politicians listen. We will all demonstrate that power where “the 99%” counts the most—at the ballot box. But it won’t be easy.
In 2011—when our nation finally awoke to the growing inequality between those who have too much and those who have little at all—we were busy building national coalitions of hundreds of grassroots organizations to advance public policy on behalf of millions of poor Americans.
And while one candidate running for office uttered his now famously dismissal comment about poverty in America, asserting he was “not concerned about the very poor” (the 46 million Americans who are now barely scratching out an existence), the Center for Community Change is actively organizing groups on the ground to register some 160,000 disadvantaged Americans with the goal of turning out 500,000 energized voters on Election Day.
Our Community Voting Project works directly with grassroots organizations to encourage new and infrequent voters to make their voices heard in the electoral process. We equip disadvantaged communities with the skills and resources they need to become fully engaged in American democracy. And we work in pivotal states and districts where elections, as they often have, may be decided by a handful of votes.
In the mid-term election of 2010, for example, when anti-immigrant racial politics took center stage in Arizona, our partners mobalized unprecedented numbers of new voters in the state (predominantly Latinos). Working through a grassroots coalition in Colorado, we had similar success while our efforts in North Carolina resulted in large-scale electoral organizing in the Latino and African American communities. Given the stakes, we expect to do considerably more in 2012.
We want to ensure that people of color, immigrants, seniors and women, the millions who are often an afterthought for candidates and elected officials, are recognized as constituencies that candidates of every stripe must listen and respond to. We’re working to raise up the voices of those most affected by social and economic injustice.
The vote is a powerful weapon. And we intend to mobilize silent Americans to stand up, speak out and have themselves heard in what will be one of the most pivotal elections of our time.