The Latino community can decide its own fate in 2020
Ricky Hurtado, a Democratic candidate for the North Carolina state house, walks past a child's toy car as he canvasses in a largely Latino trailer community, in Burlington, N.C., Sunday, March 8, 2020. He had a plan to mobilize Latino voters but it was curtailed when the coronavirus hit. | Jacquelyn Martin/AP

LOS ANGELES — The hard reality is that our country is in grave danger. The president is out of control and desperate.

Latinos shouldn’t have to listen to this president—no one should!—and definitely shouldn’t vote for his reelection. Why? The president wants you to commit a felony, as he has suggested in his remarks regarding voting twice. This advice is not only a criminal act, it is simply stupid. He put you in danger when he recommended unproven medical prescriptions and household bleach (!) as a cure for the coronavirus. Those who take his advice endanger themselves and place others in danger.

Months ago he told prominent journalist Bob Woodward that he was convinced that the coronavirus is dangerous, but lied to the American people about the threat it poses. He is still allowing the coronavirus to spread.

He continues to condemn and spread lies about the Latino community. Many Latinos are essential workers. But the president doesn’t care about your safety or your possibly contagious work environment. Unemployment seriously impacts the Latino community. Yet the president plays golf and says not to worry.

No one has to tell the Latino community that tensions and anger are high and it’s the fault of the president. Latinos shouldn’t despair. Ending the administration of the current president starts by voting and organizing voters.

With this in mind, Latinos can’t be undecided. There is no time. The Latino community is in a position to fight back against the hate-filled campaign to reelect the president. Action and participation in the voting process are needed now. To be silent in this election is to become irrelevant. The Latino community can’t let this happen. For too long, the Latino community has been ignored.

It really does matter what the two parties are saying about Latinos and what action they perceive is good for the Latino community. The simple fact of the matter is that the Latino community counts. The fate of this election is in the hands of the Latino community. Literally, take a pen in your hand and mark your ballot for Biden/Harris and the other Democrats. Mail the ballot in. The other option is to go to your polling place. Give your name and address, get your ballot, place in the voting machine, and punch in the Democratic ticket. By acting now, the Latino community will decide its own fate. Don’t be denied the right to vote.

It turns out that, generally speaking, what’s good for the Latino community is also good for everyone else. Who doesn’t want the same things is life?

Bernie Sanders has said, “In the coming weeks, let us work hard to deliver Joe Biden an overwhelming victory on election night. But, we must also stay vigilant, and do everything possible to prevent Trump from staying in power if he loses. Nothing less than our democracy is at stake.”

Latinos must come out and vote. A vote for Biden-Harris is a vote for our children, a vote for our future. Young Latinos must come out and vote in record numbers. Latino parents must vote, for it is the right thing to do. It is out of respect for the community that Latinos must vote in this election. The Latino community will hear that they have a choice in this election. In reality, there is only one choice.

What candidate is willing to work hard to address the concerns of the Latino community? What candidate does not constantly put down the Latino community or pander to a few ill-informed Latinos who are undecided? What candidate has a woman and a person of color as his running mate? These are important factors to consider. Now is the time to be the deciding vote in this election. The Biden-Harris team is the only choice.

How many times have Latinos seen their neighbors wait in long lines around various locations just to receive food to feed their families? How many times must the Latino community hear about another shooting, another killing? The streets are not safer under the direction of the current president. Thugs under the mask of “law and order” roam the streets carrying Nazi and Confederate flags, symbols of hate, lynching, and falsehoods of white superiority. Are you tired of all the lies and deception by a scary, uncontrolled racist for a president? People in the Latino community see the truth all the time. What has the president of the United States done in four years, but cause chaos? Is it any wonder Latinos are deciding to vote for Biden-Harris?

Climate change is killing our planet. The president denies the science that climate change causes earth destruction.

The pandemic is widespread and approximately a thousand people are losing their lives to it every day. Yet the president denies that the pandemic is real. He says it will magically disappear.

The real violence in the streets is caused by white nationalists, white supremacists, supported by the inflamed rhetoric of the current president. The president calls peaceful demonstrators terrorists and criminals. But he refuses to look in his own backyard. His administration is filled with individuals convicted of serious crimes. He defends rifle-carrying thugs as loving supporters. He has told so many lies that he lives in an alternate world made up of his weird fabrications. Can anyone truly be undecided on whether this man should be reelected? Once again. Is it any wonder why the Latino community is moving toward voting for the Biden-Harris team?

The time is now to register to vote, educate our community about the Biden-Harris campaign, and protect our right to vote. Voting is under attack by the Republican Party, the current president, and his administration. Voter suppression is a desperate action by a failing and insecure reelection campaign. With less than two months left before the November elections, Latinos are now gearing up to fight.

A dirty soul

Ana Suarez, a 20-year-old supermarket clerk, lives with her parents. She plans on voting in the November election. “I have heard that many Latinos are worried about the high rates of infection due to the coronavirus and concerns about keeping their jobs. They have told me they probably are not voting and are staying home. We cannot let this happen. The young Latinx population has a responsibility to take, by the hand if needed, walk, drive, talk with anybody thinking about not voting, and make sure they vote. Young Latinos have a big role to play in this election. Not only must we a vote in large numbers but we need to see that our community votes.”

Latinas will play a major role in defeating the current president. The key to getting out the vote in the Latino/a community is Latinas. Latinas are matriarchs who hold the Latino/a family together. When they decide to move on an issue there is little that will stop them. Latinas take the advice of Frida Kahlo to heart: “At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think.”

This president is a sexist who constantly attacks the rights of women. He is insecure when he is confronted by women. Latinas are more dissatisfied with the president than ever, so much that they call him “el presidente con un alma sucia”—the president with a dirty soul.

Josefina Nogales’s 60-year-old grandmother is going to vote for Biden-Harris because, she says, “Trump has lost his soul. He can longer be trusted, he is not honest, and not a leader. He is a  harmful and shameless man. Those who follow a lost soul are destined to fail. I know politics is so much more, but it doesn’t take much to understand this man. He is a man with a dirty soul. He really doesn’t deserve my vote.”

According to recent Tufts University Tisch Civil Life data, young voters 18-29 played a significant role in the 2018 midterm election and are poised to shape elections in 2020 and beyond. Another report from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Community Survey indicates that every 30 seconds a Latino in the United States turns 18, or voting age. Youth involvement in the upcoming elections is essential.

Can young voters be mobilized?

Alberto Juarez, adjunct political science professor at Pasadena City College, was asked to give his perspectives on the youth involvement in elections. Here are his observations and what he had to say:

Over the course of two decades of teaching American Government at the community college level, I have surveyed my first-year students on their knowledge and interest of politics and civic involvement and found to my chagrin that very few had given much thought to the electoral process or community activism. The more I probed into this phenomenon, the more I encountered the fact that many of my students, especially those from low-income and marginalized communities, voiced many reasons why they dislike the idea of politics, and even eschewed public involvement in demonstrations or open opposition to a system that they either disliked or with which they expressed a sense of angry disillusionment. The level of interest often also had to do with the issues of race, class, and status, where those students who were materially better off seemed to have more positive attitudes—the system worked for them and their families. Admittedly, my observations were not by any means part of a scientific study, it was really an accumulation of observations, student papers, and commentaries over that protracted period of time.

In reflecting on student attitudes by ethnic, racial, and cultural group, I learned that while many young people did share a disinterest in politics, their reasons varied. Many Asian students expressed a fear of criticizing authority, especially government officials, and wanted to focus only on those matters they felt some degree of control over without drawing attention to themselves, so they immersed themselves in their studies.

White (non-Latino/a) students from a middle-class background often had a higher level of involvement, but those from lower-end blue-collar and service industry working-class backgrounds seemed more cynical and dismissive of organized politics. Latino/a students, depending on their place within the generational hierarchy (recent immigrant, first-generation citizens, etc.), often differed, but their knowledge and attitudes ranged from viewing politics as being corrupt and the playground of the privileged, to just seeing a system dominated by Anglos who have “oppressed our community.”

African-American students, regrettably not represented in significant numbers at either Pasadena Community College or L.A. Mission College where I also taught, have higher awareness and were more vocal in their dissatisfaction with the system. The overall attitude appeared to be indifference to participation, yet frustration and resentment that the political institutions work for the corporations, country club set, and fat cats—to their exclusion.

Yet these students have shown themselves to be primed and ready to participate in demonstrations when their sense of justice is violated. Young people overall are very idealistic and keen on such issues, as youth have been in past generations. Demonstrations are an outlet to satisfy the need for immediate gratification for their complaints, but their ire and energy do not necessarily translate into the laborious and more painstaking process of joining community-based political groups to advocate for the long term and electoral solutions to their problems. It may not be a lack of desire but the real impediments of limitations on time, be it work schedules, families, transportation, and even health issues. For others, and admittedly a very few, there is the real feeling that only revolution and returning to a “state of nature” and then starting over again is the only alternative.

A sign in English and Spanish directs voters to an early-voting location in Surprise, Ariz., in April 2018. | Anita Snow/AP

The complaint also gets back to me that the system was always dominated by Anglos who rejected the involvement of the Mexican and Latino/a community. This argument certainly has historic credibility, but there is still information lacking, both through the various media platforms and certainly curriculums in schools, about the significant gains that have been made by communities of color. That applies to Asian-American, Latino/a, and African-American political actors who have made major progress at all levels of state, local and congressional representation in the past 20 years in California.

Despite this, there is still a significant amount of apathy and lethargy in moving critical numbers of youth and young adults that have to be motivated to register and then get them to the polls.

I have seen a positive shift toward political activism. It often does appear that young people are issue-driven and can be mobilized to protest. But it still requires new strategies to get them organized to work in grassroots campaigns to get out the vote. Based on their comments and in those instances when they have mobilized, as we have seen with DACA and Black Lives activists, celebrities, Hip Hop artists, and athletes are very effective organizers crucial to validating the electoral and political process. Local DJs and social media personalities can be crucial to getting out the votes, and promoting rallies and musical shows as the “New Dealers” used back in the day.

Increased strategies need to be developed such as “Rocking the Vote,” and developing materials from stickers and cartoons. Even clothing for children can begin to politicize youngsters from an early age and to utilize clubs and youth organizations to develop a sense of civic awareness and participation. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Explorer groups have started to stress civic involvement. Politics can appear to be great fun for adults, but parents—as mine did—have to include their children and the youth component. At all levels of education, civic awareness needs to be reestablished. Student government should not just draw from the affluent and campus personalities but include the marginalized youth who have been excluded and left to simmer with frustration, resentment, and humiliation.

As to the current election season, we need to make greater inroads by supporting progressive students on our campuses and win over the Green and Bernie supporters to the great cause. We need them. On that point, our energy and work should be directed at sending volunteers into the swing states and developing local phone banks to make calls into Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, and other places where we know that we can turn the status quo around.

There is no time to be undecided. The Latino community, with its numbers and increased political awareness, can make a difference in the 2020 elections. It’s time to elect Biden/Harris and bring an end to the current occupant of the White House and his corrupt administration.


David Trujillo
David Trujillo

David Trujillo is a member of the National Writers Union, a playwright, writer, and community activist. David Trujillo es miembro de la Unión Nacional de Escritores, dramaturgo, escritor y activista comunitario.