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Why Latinos won’t pick the next president

The cover of TIME magazine’s March 5 issue strikingly proclaims the arrival of the Latino vote with two, simple Spanish words: “Yo Decido.” In the cover article, brazenly titled “Why Latinos will decide the next President,” White House correspondent for TIME Michael Scherer argues that an explosion of Latino populations across the country will endow the Latino community with a power it has never wielded before: the ability to decide a presidential election.

While reaching a place in the American cultural pantheon that is the cover of TIME magazine may be cause for Latinos to walk around with an extra bounce in our step – chins higher, chests farther out – there a few heavy realities that should keep us from prematurely floating off into the stratosphere.

Truthfully, Latinos probably won’t decide the next president, and if we do, it will be through our absence from the voting booths come November.

You see it, hear it, feel it wherever you go. Latinos are continually feeling dismayed and disillusioned by an administration that promised to usher in a new era in American government. The dream of the Obama presidency has been washed away and replaced by a bitter cold awakening. And as the weeks and years pass, we can hardly remember the dream. Now we look in the mirror and laugh at ourselves, wondering how we could’ve allowed ourselves to hope so audaciously. We’ve lost our faith in our president. So instead of securing his second term, we’d rather shutter ourselves indoors on Election Day and wallow in the memory of our late longing.

Never mind that Obama is one of the most gifted presidents the United States has ever produced, an assertion which hardly awaits hindsight for its validation. We have our proof now: the Dow has closed above 13,000 for the first time since before the Great Recession struck. Obama oversaw the end of war in Iraq and will hopefully oversee the end of war in Afghanistan next year. He not only kept the auto industry afloat, but drove its resurrection. He has tiptoed the thin line between tough immigration enforcement and fair reform. He devised a successful twilight operation to insert a bullet through bin Laden’s cheek – without anesthetics. He muscled health care reform through Congress, a goal of every president since FDR. He appointed two brilliant women (one Latina) to the Supreme Court, and he championed the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. All in his first term.

Yet, even if we do find reasons to vote, studies show that Latino voters simply are “less motivated than other voters to go to the polls.” Latinos voted in the 2008 presidential elections in record numbers, but even then we were only 7.4 percent of overall turnout. Figures show that of the 19.5 million Latino citizens of voting age in 2008, 11.6 million (59 percent) were registered voters, and of the 11.6 million, only 9.8 million (84 percent) actually lined up to cast their votes.

Apparently Latinos don’t think it important enough to invest in their political future. But Latinos will have a decision to make this year, and if history teaches us anything, it’s that Latinos will likely decide not to decide.

About Hector Luis Alamo, Jr.

Hector Luis Alamo, Jr., is the associate editor at Being Latino and a native son of Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. He received a B.A. in history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where his concentration was on ethnic relations in the United States. While at UIC, he worked first as a staff writer for the Chicago Flame and later became the newspaper's Opinions editor. He contributes to various Chicago-area publications, most notably, the RedEye and Gozamos. He's also a cultural critic for 'LLERO magazine. He has maintained a personal blog since 2007, YoungObservers.blogspot.com, where he discusses topics ranging from political history and philosophy to culture and music.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

Comments

  1. Regretfully, many Latino voters will allow emotions to overtake reason. Mr. Obama is the best thing going politically for us. While he may have not yet delivered all his stated promises, I believe that he (and all of us) now realize that the political system is much more complex than a simple Presidential decree. Much better to allow him another term to continue what he has started–a complete overhaul of a country that had fallen into the dumps–than elect any of the Republican candidates whose vision of a New America does not include us.

  2. Sadly there should be more Latino voters in general so the candidates can be motivated to do more for our community.

  3. Yes, we getting f with dry stick…

  4. They iz b watin’ fo da demokradik vote.

  5. If it wasn’t for Republicans the Dream Act would be law.

  6. Our country’s problem is too big for any one person or party to fix, our government and system promote corporate greed and profit for those in power. We need a whole overhaul of our government, that puts people first. Otherwise we are destined to fail. along with that riots, anarchy and chaos. The politicians we have to pick from doesn’t give anyone real confidence except Maybe only corporate lobby groups.

  7. People please stop kidding yourselves if you think that any of us have a voice in our gov’t regardless of race, gender, age, or party affiliation. Both major political parties control how is nominated as the president, not us. Our votes are just fluff, they do not count for anything except provide the media more fodder to fill the airwaves with our daily life drama.

    Consider this…in 2008 can any of you tell me the where in the rules for both democrats and republicans parties it states that the party’s presidential nomination is based solely on the popular vote? They both run on the party delegate system. The delegates select the presidential nominee. You can see this now with the Republican primaries. Funny thing is that they constantly change the rules on how they “assign” delegates which has never taken in account the popular vote. Once you understand this all of this then you will be able to see that our gov’t has been controlled by these people which consider themselves the elite because of course they feel that they know better than us what is best for us and the country. Corporations and people with power that want to keep their power control this. This has been the struggle since before any of us were born. The government has been hijacked by lobbyist paid for by corporations jockeying for position to get “special favors”.

    Do the research yourself but answer this….why is it that many of the same financial backers in the Romney campaign are also donors to the Obama re-election campaign?

  8. We just have to get a grip and VOTE! Republicans are NOT the answer to anything fair and equal. Obama has done a lot considering all the opposition and racist hate out there and he will continue to do all those things he promised. Latinos need to VOTE and make a difference. Don’t give up! Change does not occur from one day to another. We need to unite and MAKE a difference and have our voice count! Step by step. Let us bring real change! Go! Obama!

  9. I hope they aren’t too weary, or we are screwed!

  10. Latinos must stop “putting their heads in the sand”, we weren’t promised anything nor should we look for any preferential treatment. We should just vote plain and simple. Forget the fact were voting for the lesser of two evils. Make a decision and vote even if its the wrong decision. But if you decide not to vote don’t cry and complain as to who is in office or the job their doing. No one likes a Monday morning quarterback.

  11. Yes , continue to vote – meanwhile the people who are really getting ahead in this economy spend their time improving their skills and building a business – Obama is a sham , realize that the institutions we trusted are completly corrupted and your vote is a waste of time , spend your time doing what successful people do and stop waiting wasting time waiting for hope to sail your boats – really grow up already , nothing will improve in your life if you rely on a government that has nothing but disdain for you – if you are going to improve your state , look in the mirror

  12. we have the power to change thingsssssssssssss

  13. So, Ron Casados, you voting at all?

  14. @Jorge – not a chance – my time is best spent making the most of myself – that is the only discipline any of us can do that will help the whole – what would I vote for ? Hope , change …..right – we all have more productive things to accomplish – this way , I have noone to blame if I don’t succeed. I don’t need Obama or Romney or any of the charades that pass for leadership – I will guarantee you that this same old tired argument will be here again in four years no matter who they s-elect to lead the herd -

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