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art by Favianna Rodriguez

Art by Favianna Rodriguez

“ Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. ” – Paulo Freire, Educator

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SEPTEMBER 02, 2012 / BY ARTURO CARMONA Why progressive Latinos cannot stay out of the 2012 election

As the Executive Director of Presente.org, I know that our members are committed to making real progress on issues that matter to our community and that they count on us to fearlessly and unapologetically speak truth to power and stand on the front lines to defend and advance the social and political conditions of Latinos and immigrants. That is why we will invest our time and resources to raise our voices, frame the issues and make sure our interests are included in this year’s elections.

Our job is to educate our members. Our job is to be the watchdog. Our job is to push back against attacks on our communities. Our job is to highlight the stories of our members –- to make sure the close to 300,000 people who invest time and energy in this mission are visible. So we will be bringing these stories to you. We have picked the first 10 members who will be highlighted on this blog from the Bay Area are now reaching out to members in Los Angeles, Miami and other places where Latinos are a significant percentage of the population and where our members are strong. You will be able to see our members' faces, hear their stories and understand what matters to them during this election.

For the first time in our short history, Presente.org will get involved in a significant way this elections season. We simply cannot sit on the sidelines and watch powerful corporate and right wing interests work to influence and shape the growing Latino electorate to go against our economic and social interests. In addition, our members have spoken loud and clear and have been vocal in telling us that the policy alternatives offered by the right are simply not acceptable and that they require our action to stop dangerous policy agendas. 

You know how bad things are. Our democracy is in crisis. Our system of governance has been increasingly compromised by the powerful elite and the right wing. Our sacred right to vote, for those of us lucky enough to have it, is being watered down, attacked, and taken away. Dollars now seem to matter more than votes, and even those precious few dollars have been greatly reduced in this economic mess.

We're not going to lie to you. Led by the right wing and other powerful forces, our opponents are formidable with a great conviction to limit and shape the political evolution of Latinos in the coming years. We know that the challenges of our community are immense and that we cannot turn things around in one election cycle or through the electoral process alone. We recognize that changing the tide in favor of our communities will require a focused and persistently engaged community and movement. Having said that, this election is a critical step, and we are committed to work tirelessly to make your vote count, and even more importantly, hold politicians accountable to what you vote for, once elected.

Here's what we're planning to do:

(1) We will identify innovative ways to reach out to you and elevate the voices of Latinos by communicating what matters to you this elections season.

(2) We will deepen our organizing in states where the Latino vote will have a huge impact, states like Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

(3) We’ll rollout some of our high-impact campaigns to expose those who are trying to fool us into voting against our economic and social interests, pushback against the way Latinos are being purged from the voter rolls, and challenge the corporate dollars that are drowning out our voices at the ballot box.  

Today, when the money of corporations and the elite is flowing unlike ever before, there is only one way to politically empower our communities: people power. Only with the support of Presente members and Latinos from across the nation will we be able to reach out to more states, organize more Latino families, and roll out more campaigns. Please invest in our collective future, and join our movement by signing up, volunteering and contributing what you can so that we can turn things around together.  

There is simply too much at stake for us to stay out of this fight. We understand the power and limitations of elections, and realize that this election, where Latinos will play a decisive role, will be a critical step in the empowerment of our community. During this era of voter disenfranchisement and confusion we must work together to ensure that the community is not fooled. We must work together to ensure the economic and social interests of our families remain the driving force above all.