I voted the day after I got the ballot in the mail last week. I am one of the 70 percent of Coloradans expected to vote early in this election.
I hear that I am one of a large number of Latinos voting early. Enthusiasm appears higher than in 2008.
A Latino decisions poll is indicating that 54 percent of Latino voters feel more enthusiastic about voting. This and other polls are showing that the immigration issue has been the catalyst to a greater Latino interest in seeing their candidate elected to the presidency.
The Latino community political activism has taken an important turn beginning in this new century. Much of the energy previously devoted to the defense of civil rights is being redirected to organizing a proper place in the mainstream of American political life.
This is being done in the middle of a national dialogue on immigration reform and one that is making the difference in the intensity of Latino electoral participation. In other words, although Latinos share in the national interest in seeking to improve the jobs and economic picture, it is the issues of the Latino immigrants among us that are driving the enthusiasm and intensity in the current race.
Four hundred and ten years ago, the Spanish came into the Southwest to establish a Latino presence that has grown over the years. This presence was turned up-side-down with the establishment of the American national community.
Activism in those early days was related to defending property and the right to belong in their land. The early American experience left the Latino community dispossessed and forgotten.
It is from the ashes of this history that Latinos rose to recover what was lost and take their proper place within the margins of American political reality. The Chicano Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s highlighted that struggle for equality and self-determination that did so much to dramatize the coming of the inevitable.
Marching in the streets became an expression of faith in the power to change America and make it fulfill its creed. That tradition and ritual continues to be celebrated today by Latino immigrants and especially the Dreamers whose motto is, “Today we march, tomorrow we vote.”
In the start of this century, it became evident to most thinking people that Latinos were destined to emerge as the future leadership of the country. It became clear that becoming the largest minority in the nation was only the beginning.
The next major demographic milestone will come in the middle of this century when we will become a minority-majority country. The end of this century will see the Latino community become the face of America.
The evolving political reality on the ground in today’s world dictates that Latino activism change to accommodate new responsibilities to manage our country. While marching in the streets for civil rights is still an important element in the tool box, priorities are emerging that call for Latinos to shoulder larger responsibilities for leadership.
This brings us to the present challenge posed by this presidential election. Much thought needs to go into Latinos’ decision as to whom to support.
Regardless of presidential choice and congressional delegation, that choice must be exercised if we are to fulfill the responsibility for leadership. While 73 percent of eligible Latino voters are set to vote in this election, it is still over 15 percent less than majority community.
The new Latino activism needs to begin with going to the ballot box and voting. Doing that sends a most important message to America.