Written by: Alvaro Sanchez Sanchez, Senior Associate
It’s never been more clear that Latinos are poised to have a dramatic influence on the direction of this country. The growing influence of Latinos is ensuring that we not only have a seat at the table—but are influencing the outcome of the debate.
At the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Public Policy Conference last week, Representative Robert Menendez reminded that crowd that the reason Latinos are in a position of influence is directly related to the contributions they’ve already made throughout our country’s history—from fighting in the U.S. War for Independence to Sonia Sotomayor being selected to serve in the U.S. Supreme Court.
“It’s time to be proud of our history, to talk about it and to realize that we have to stop talking about what we will contribute in the future and celebrate what we already have contributed,” he said.
Today, as the fastest-growing minority in America, Latino voices matter more than ever. We will help decide whether or not America creates green jobs and a healthy, prosperous clean energy future. A recent poll showed that nearly 90 percent of Latino voters support clean energy over fossil fuels. Our votes matter—but only if we use them.
Looking towards the future, CHCI largely focused on the elections and turning out Latino voters in larger numbers in order to influence Immigration, Economic, Education and Healthcare policy—the four most pressing issues for Latinos.
Dr. Matt Barreto, Co-founder of Latino Decisions pointed out that Latino Americans have a history of successfully organizing and mobilizing their community—a tradition that continues today.
Legendary organizer Dolores Huerta encouraged door-to-door canvasing and voter registration, while contemporary personalities like actress America Ferrera and Black Eyed Peas group member Taboo have encouraged the use of social media tools to reach out to younger voters.
The common thread among all CHCI speakers was a call for Latino Americans to be more active and engaged citizens. Despite increasing electoral influence, the reality is that there are millions of Latinos who do not use their vote, even though they meet the requirements to register. Out of 23.6 million Latinos who are eligible to vote, only 12 million are expected to vote in the 2012 Presidential Election.
If Latinos want to cast our influence beyond consumer power—if we hope to effectively shape the future of our country and create a healthier, more sustainable and prosperous world for us all—we need to be active citizens—and that starts with voting.
Telemundo has launched a new, interactive web site designed to help voters register and provide voter information. Click here for more information.