If you look at the decisions that are made by our public officials, it’s easy to see that they are influenced by the people who vote them into office. That’s why voting is so critical to the Latino community. At the same time lets also remember that voting is important not just in the upcoming November 4th election, but in every election at the local, state and national levels. The future of the Latino community and in the long run the future of our nation is at stake because we cannot have a strong America without a strong vibrant Hispanic community. The two are inextricably linked given the population patterns we have and will continue to witness.
It is important that we make our collective voices heard. And we have the numbers to do it! The United States has the second largest Hispanic population outside of Mexico, mostly concentrated in 16 states with at least half a million Hispanics, according to the National Hispanic Voter Education Foundation. There are about 15 million American Latino youth in the U.S., according to Voto Latino. Let’s remember that every year more than 750,000 Latinos turn 18 and become eligible to vote in this country. That’s power! That makes us a political force to be reckoned with. We need to harness that power and make a statement of force and that force is our vote. Voting increases our clout and our voice. Voting helps determine who is listened to and who is not. We need to have our elected leaders listening to us!
We must advance the Latino agenda, which is really in step with the American agenda. Like most Americans, we are concerned about – and most important, want to see action on – issues of employment, affordable housing, health care, as well as immigration, and education, making it more affordable, especially post-secondary education, etc. We have seen politicians who want to reduce support for social service programs because these programs now support people who no longer act or look like them. It’s vitally important that we vote and express support for continued funding in the areas that are of critical importance to our community. But if we don’t vote, politicians feel they don’t have to represent us.
We need to elect people to office who have our interests at heart. Only by voting can we become the architects of our own destiny.
Ignacio Salazar is the President & CEO of SER-Jobs for Progress National, Inc., an organization dedicated to the education, employment and empowerment of Latinos for 50 years. Salazar also is a former member of the President’s Advisory Council for Financial Literacy.