The 2016 presidential election is one of the most important in recent times. From what we have seen so far, it looks like both parties are advancing vastly different proposals regarding the country’s priorities and their vision for the future. Latino voters could potentially make the difference – if they go out and vote.
Every 30 seconds, a U.S. Latino turns 18. Every year, there are 66,000 new Latino potential voters, according to Pew Research. For this year’s election, it is estimated that 28.5 million Hispanics will qualify to vote. On the flip side, electoral absenteeism is much higher among our community than in Anglo and African-American groups. Our low turnout is usually attributed to the fact that our community is young, averaging 28 years of age, a period in life when there is usually little interest in elections.
It is possible – and we hope so – that the odious anti-immigrant debate dominating the Republican primary serves as motivation for young Latinos who are citizens, for legal residents who are in a position to become citizens and for those who are naturalized but have yet to registered to vote.
What we saw in the political field in 2015 is a cause for concern. The popularity of Donald Trump’s chauvinistic rhetoric of intolerance and resentment is worrisome. Even worse, the millionaire is setting the tone for the whole primary, forcing the rest of the candidates to assume ever more recalcitrant positions. Trump’s vision – as well as Sen. Ted Cruz’s, the New Yorker’s closest contender – is that of an even more unequal society than the one created by the tax policy currently in place, a brand of religious liberty granted exclusively to Christians, and a nation where diversity of opinion is a problem instead of a virtue.
There is no more room for political indolence. This year, the election will be won by whoever gets the most people out to vote. Remaining a bystander is no longer an option, for we are all protagonists, some more active than others. It is the responsibility of each one of us to do our duty, take control of our destiny and make 2016 the year of the Latino vote.