Myths, lies, and more nonsense about the 2020 Latinx vote
A voter, right, shows her identification to a Harris County election clerk before voting, July 14, 2020, in Houston. | David J. Phillip / AP

The beast of burden is no more, but now there’s a political beast to be reckoned with. There are still those who want to keep the Latinx community down and out. They fear that a political awakening will change the political landscape. The late songwriter and entertainer Sam Cooke once sang, “A change is gonna come.” It will be a political change.

This change has been happening for decades. Here is how the political landscape will be changed by the Latinx community: One Latinx vote counts. A neighborhood or community of Latinx voters count. Everywhere, in every election, and in November, the Latinx vote will count.

Vote your conscience. But I’m reminded of what my mother always told me: “Never trust anyone that always lies. Because they will lie to God to save their soul.”

Juanita Ramirez, 82 years old, living in Los Angeles, became a U.S citizen 20 years ago. She has voted in every election since becoming a citizen. She is determined to vote in November even though she has concerns about the pandemic.

This year she will vote by mail. It will be her first time voting this way. She said, “It was always a pleasure to walk to the polling place to vote. But now, the coronavirus has changed everything. Sometimes I can’t believe we are going through this. I don’t understand why the president can’t tell the people the truth. I think something is wrong with him. I will vote for the Democrat. He seems to be for working people. If God permits, I will do what I can to help out in the elections.”

Mobilizing voters 5-3-2

Juanita is one individual taking part in the “5-3-2” voter mobilization program. She is doing outreach in her neighborhood in what she said is a very doable program, especially for older people who want to get involved in the upcoming elections.

The 5-3-2 Program recommends that we:

  1. Get five (5) neighbors to commit to registering to vote between now and the November election.
  2. Get three (3) of your relatives to commit to voting in November.
  3. Get (2) work associates, or former associates if retired, to commit to voting in November.
  4. Begin thinking about a plan to get out the vote by reminding your contacts to vote.

Together, we can reclaim our neighborhoods. We can change this country for the better. Accountability is up to all of us. It would be easy to just say, “I can’t do this.” But it must be done. We need to use the tools available to us.

Ismael Parra, a community/labor activist in L.A., and an active voter mobilizer has been telling skeptics, “In the Democratic Party we have seen debates favoring housing, women’s choice, public education through the university level, taxing the rich, taking money out of politics, reforming the prison system, providing public health care for all, a minimum monthly salary for all adults, a jobs program with union representation. So, no matter who the presidential candidate is, it is the Democratic Party where positive favorable debate is taking place about issues that affect me directly as a working person in this country. So I am going to vote for the candidate chosen by that party because I am interested in the development of those democratic and helpful policies for the benefit of working people everywhere.”

Latinx need to make defeating the president and taking back the Senate a priority. Pushing a Democratic win in November and increasing voter turnout will depend on the unity of a broad-based alliance of political forces as well as a multi-racial, multi-generational coalition. We are all in this together.

Some myths, lies, and more lies

During this election year, we will hear many falsehoods about Latinx. Many of these falsehoods are straight out lies, coming right out of the mouth of the narcissistic lying president and his administration. In the next several months, Latinx will also hear political pundits, various research centers, and scholars describe how Latinx will vote. The outside noise will be loud, but it doesn’t really matter as long as Latinx get out and vote. So what are some of the falsehoods we’ll be hearing?

Biden will lose if Latinx don’t vote. Campaigns are far more complex than this simple reduction. The danger behind this language is that it signals a scapegoat analysis. It essentially claims that Latinx will get the blame if Biden loses. This is what I call the “Ralph Nader Effect.” Here is the set-up: If Joe Biden and the Democrats want to win, the path to the White House goes through Latinx voters.” I would argue that this is just one path to victory.

Latinx don’t vote. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 53% of the voting population participated in the 2018 elections, the highest midterm turnout in four decades. Turnout increased by 13% in the Latinx community alone. As a result of this increase in voting by Latinx, the most diverse and inclusive House of Representatives in the country’s history, with 42 Latinx/Hispanic–Americans, is now serving in the 116th Congress. As a result of the increased Latinx population and the increased voter turnout, especially over the past decade, both parties, Democrats and Republicans, are now vying for the Latinx vote. Your vote counts.

Latinx would be worse off under the Democrats. The political pundits would surely like to push this idea deeper into the Latinx community. In fact, there is a concerted effort to instill this argument in the minds of the Latinx community. It’s objectively the same argument that is used by some who claim that there is no difference between the Democratic and Republican parties. Ideologically, there are similarities and differences. But the underlying purpose of such an argument is to dilute the Latinx vote. In other words, this argument is saying to the Latinx community to stay home because your vote doesn’t count.

The Latinx community supports the president in his re-election. Polls indicate that 67% of voters believe that the president is mishandling the pandemic. And 67% believe that the president is mishandling race relations in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center poll, around half of Latinx say they or someone in their family has taken a pay cut or lost a job—or both—because of the coronavirus. Recent polls estimate that the president will pull in 25-30% of the Latinx vote in 2020. These early polling numbers are much too high considering the devastating conditions that exist in Latinx working-class communities.

The point is: The president has a track record. This president has revealed himself over and over again. Latinx have no problem voting for their own interest and not the interest of the president. No. Latinx are not supporting the president.

All Latinx look alike, sound alike, and vote alike. Latinx will vote in the upcoming elections as they become more politically active. Will Latinx increase their voting numbers? Will the difficult economic and pandemic conditions make a difference in the election? How will the campaigns conduct their outreach into the Latinx community? What the pollsters don’t understand is that the Latinx community is becoming more and more socially and politically complex. The Latinx community is diverse, and this must be taken into account when looking at voting trends and voting predictions. The Latinx community is not a monolithic community.

A change is gonna come

The positive news is that an intensive Latinx targeting program of voters by the Democrats will be developing over the next several months with the knowledge that the Latinx community is diverse.

Latinx represent 17% of the U.S. population, Asian Americans about 6%, Black people about 12%. Latinx have been changing the political voting landscape in very positive ways. Currently, we are in a new normal, and voters have never participated in a pandemic election. But one thing is constant: The Latinx vote is invaluable. Defeating the president and taking back the Senate has major consequences for Latinx. Keeping the president in power will surely threaten our health, environment, lives, and families.

Joelle Fishman, a community/political activist in Connecticut, put it this way, “This election is not about Joe Biden, and it is not about the Democratic Party. This election is about how to change the White House, the Senate, and local offices to move the balance of forces away from the fascist threat and to open new possibilities by electing as many diverse candidates with a pro-worker stance as possible. We use the tools that are available to do that.”

In the coming days, and especially in the lead-up to the November elections, various commentaries and polls will place Latinx all over the political map. Lies about the Latinx community will be heard in political commercials and outreach. But it is safe to say that Latinx count, unity counts, and mobilizing voters to vote in November at the ballot box or vote-by-mail counts. A change is gonna come.


CONTRIBUTOR

David Trujillo
David Trujillo

David Trujillo is a member of the National Writers Union, a playwright, writer, and community activist.

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