By: Monica Westbrook
The right to vote is not free. Many soldiers have died to protect this precious freedom of all citizens of the United States to express their political voice through voting. So when I heard someone was telling Latinos not to vote, I asked, “Why not? And who would even say this?” My first reaction was to accuse Sharron Angle, the Tea Party candidate in Nevada where the ad was running. Imagine my surprise. While Sharron Angle’s team has run some ads with grossly negative depictions of Latinos, they were not responsible for this most heinous ad.
Believe it or not, one of our own did this. That’s right. If you haven’t heard by now, we have the Latinos for Reform to thank for this attempt to suppress this most precious right that too many Latinos already ignore. Supposedly, the purpose is to influence Latinos to “take action” against the Democrats for not fulfilling the promise of immigration reform. So if I understand this logic, the way to get the Democrats to take action on immigration reform is to essentially be a party to them losing their seats in Congress? Wouldn’t that ultimately guarantee no action would be taken by Congress on this matter? Sounds to me like the organization’s president, Robert de Posada is using his position to impose his own agenda. He is a member of the GOP and, according to the Huffington Post, “a prominent conservative operative,” (GOP-Linked). Any educated person would, therefore, reasonably deduce that Mr. de Posada believes the Latino vote would be predominantly Democrat. So by trying to convince his own people to believe this inaction is a form of action, he would, in essence, achieve his own goal, i.e. help the GOP gain power in Congress.
Sharron Angle’s Ads
Now, let’s not allow Sharron Angle to get off scot-free. If you haven’t seen some of the ads run by her team, please go to YouTube and watch them. Latinos are depicted as criminals and nothing but a menace to society, sneaking across the border under cloak of darkness, evoking an image that they are to be feared. One ad shows a brief clip of a white teenage boy who appears to be stressing over the threat of Latinos at his school.
First of all, why did some of our Latino men even agree to be actors in these ads? I know the economy is tough, but have some principles.
If you’re thinking because you live in any state other than Nevada and this campaign doesn’t impact you, think again. These ads are getting national coverage, and I fear that Latinos across the country may take this to heart and be discouraged from voting.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
Univision ran the “Don’t Vote” ad for a hot minute before pulling it. Since then, the Wall Street Journal reports that the channel has teamed up with a non-partisan group, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, to run ads encouraging Latinos to get out and vote. Thank you, Univision. Telemundo has also joined in this campaign.
So why is the anti-Latino sentiment so strong? With talks about immigration reform heating up, those opposed to such legislation as the AgJOBS bill are attempting to keep it from coming up for a vote through the use of fear tactics. What they don’t show you are the millions of laborers on the margin, who work hard to support their families, and get treated as second-class citizens. These are the real majority, and they don’t deserve to be slandered with these ads.
I attended the Get Motivated seminar Monday, and the much revered General Colin Powell said something that warmed my heart. First, he told the story of a hot dog vendor on the streets of New York. When the vendor recognized him, he wouldn’t take his money. He told Gen. Powell that America has already paid him and his family because he has been able to have his own business and make a living. Then Gen. Powell said something very freeing. He said that we have to keep from letting fear cause us to shut down and shut people out. We can’t let fear keep us from being an open and free country. That is not the spirit of the U.S. This is a country built on the backs of immigrants. Everyone but the Native Americans is a descendent of immigrants.
So when you think about voting today, think about the evolution of this country and how blessed and privileged we are to have a system that allows every citizen to vote, despite race or gender. Take full advantage of that right, but educate yourself. Know who the candidates and issues are. The internet is a wonderful thing as you should know since you’re on it right now reading this. Now, let’s get out and vote.
Below are some links to some articles on this subject (referenced above) for further reading:
Video of Robert de Posada interviewed by Lawrence O’Donnell on The Last Word on msnbc: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SSQg_brPM8