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Post Midterm Politics & the Implications for Latinos

November 12th, 2010 · 10 Comments

By Melissa Beatriz Skolnick

With just over a week after the midterm elections, it seems as though people have gone back to the pattern of everyday life. Yet as someone who is studying social work in today’s society, I find myself constantly thinking about the implications of this election especially for minorities.

According to an article published last week by Ronald Brownstein in the National Journal:

“The portions of the electorate that remained loyal to President Obama and Democrats – particularly minority voters and young people – did not show up in anywhere near the numbers they did in 2008.”

Although the aforementioned group of voters may have been frustrated, and understandably so, it seems as though they might have learned a valuable lesson: there are consequences for not exercising our right to vote. First of all, voting is a right that every one should take seriously, especially if change is to come about. Secondly, when voting, it’s important to be an informed citizen. Thus, being proactive in educating oneself about each candidate, proposition, bond measure, etc. should be important parts of the election process for all of us. It’s amazing how many uninformed people do show up to vote.

With the Republican Party controlling the House of Representatives after the lame duck session, there will be a major shift in focus. One effect on Latinos, and other minority groups, will be a major cut back in funding for organizations that support social service agencies & community centers. For example, community centers across the country that assist minorities with educational, financial, translation services, and cash assistance programs will now be on the chopping block. At a time when our country finds itself recovering from one of the worst recessions, agencies such as these are greatly needed, especially in Latino communities throughout the country. Perhaps this type of cost cutting is a way to keep Latino communities under water a little while longer.

In addition, immigration reform is imperative if our elected officials truly have our country’s best interest in mind. According to Ashley Southall in an article entitled “Obama Vows to Push Immigration Changes,” Republicans have been noted in supporting immigration laws similar to Arizona’s “anti-illegal immigration law.” It still remains to be seen how many more states attempt to enact similar laws to SB1070. While Democrats pander to their constituents about plans for overhauling our nation’s immigration laws, this has yet to come to fruition, which is especially frustrating for Latinos. Thus, the importance of voting in mid-term elections is now pretty obvious, especially since this was one of the largest shifts in power in over four decades. It will be interesting to see how many steps backward our country takes regarding immigration reform. This week we have already heard a state representative in Tennessee say that immigrants will “multiply like rats”.

Although the current situation cannot be reversed until the next election cycle, it is necessary to truly understand the role that the government plays in our lives. Next time, no matter how frustrated our elected officials make us, we should think twice about not exercising one of the most important freedoms we have as citizens. Remember, as a single vote we are being heard. As a group of voters we have the ability to hold our elected officials accountable. Whether it is through simply voting, advocating, or spreading awareness of potential outcomes such as this latest election, we just need to be involved.

Melissa Beatriz Skolnick is currently a graduate student attaining her Master’s in Social Work in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She strives to merge social work and journalism together in order to bring more awareness to various underrepresented communities, as well as to bring light to societal inconsistencies. In addition, she hopes to one day impact society through endeavors such as policy-making, writing through a widespread medium, and speaking to those who are willing to listen.

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Tags: Barack Obama · GOP · Government Accountability · Immigration · Presidential Elections · Republican Party · Voting Rights

10 responses so far ↓

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  • 2 Anna // Nov 12, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Who is this aimed at? If I’m not mistaken, Latino turnout was high. Save your lecture because we did our duty!

  • 3 webmaster // Nov 12, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Anna,

    In some states, such as Texas, the Latino vote really lagged. Here are some stats from the Longhorn state and the Latino electorate there:

    http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2010/11/texass-2010-lat.html

    Why do you think a state that has one of the largest Latino (Mexican-American) populations has a problem with voter turnout whereas others like California aren’t as bad? Obviously, not everyone did his or her duty.

    I think that the larger issue beyond voting is that many Latinos (along with other Americans) don’t stay engaged throughout the year. Showing up to vote is one political act, but making calls, writing letters, donating money, knocking on doors, etc. are all additional actions that we need to take.

  • 4 Chicano future tense // Nov 12, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    My take on this..

    July,2008
    Obama vows-

    “We need a president who isn’t going to walk away from something as important as comprehensive immigration reform when it becomes politically unpopular,” he told the group. “That’s the commitment I’m making to you. I fought with you in the Senate for comprehensive immigration reform. And I will make it a top priority in my first year as president.”

    November 11,2010
    “Obama Vows to Push Immigration Changes”-

    “In the final week leading up to the midterm elections, President Barack Obama is encouraging Hispanic voters to turn their frustration over stalled immigration reform against Republicans on Election Day.”

    Ronald Brownstein in the National Journal: is correct-

    “The portions of the electorate that remained loyal to President Obama and Democrats – particularly minority voters and young people – did not show up in anywhere near the numbers they did in 2008.”

    The author of the article Melissa Beatriz Skolnick states-

    “Although the aforementioned group of voters may have been frustrated, and understandably so, it seems as though they might have learned a valuable lesson: there are consequences for not exercising our right to vote.”

    Yeah,it’s true Latino voters are frustrated but I think the valuable lesson you have assigned is bogus.Your argument is presented in a cleverly couched,cavalier and condescending manner..it is clever distracting non-sequitur argument which by omission takes the heat off of Obama and the Democratic party,and then concludes by deflecting and scolding us Latinos by bringing out the “boogie man”-
    “there are consequences for not exercising our right to vote.”

    I have no proof but I suspect Melissa Beatriz Skolnick is in some way a Democratic party shill or operative trying to sucker Latinos into voting again and again over and over for more Democratic party “hope and change” lies and BS..

    She emphasizes “consequences”..Has anyone ever considered that maybe there should also be consequences and accountability for lying conniving two-faced Democrats like Obama and the DNC who want only to keep Latinos as happy slaves on their plantation.But, glaringly the author conveniently fails to mention this.

    IMHO,for the most part,I think the reason Latinos have shied away from voting in this midterm election is because they ahave become “snake-bitten” by Obama/DNC.Democratic lies and deception.

    I think Latino voters are just plain sick and tired,fed up,burnt out with all the lies and phony games that have been run down on them by Obama/DNC/Democratic party for some years now.

    The author Melissa Beatriz Skolnick then goes on and on providing us Latinos with a laundry list of scare tactics and standard trite civic lessons garnered from college textbooks from those colleges,universities,academic institutions which pump out in a cookie cutter assembly-line like fashion the future managers and technicians..hired help for the ruling class.

    Latino carrerists and opportunists bucking for that well paid position in academia,government or some NGO foundation.Follow the money…

    The Democrats have perfected to a fine art deceiving Latinos into voting for them..
    “The Republicans are out to get you”..
    “the Republicans want to take your oldest child and eat them”
    “The republicans wear horns and have tails”..

    “Oh! you must vote Democratic party before the republicans kill you”..

    Caramba!..They say this to Latinos with a straight face in public,but when they are back in the confines of the White House or in Congress they mockingly laugh and sneer at the gullibilty and childish mindset of Latinos for buying into their fear tactics BS..

    Hell,they figure, it’s worked for them for a long time! Why mess up a good thing!

    I say..guess what Democrats? the Republicans as much as I despise them are at least honest enough and in your face to tell you what they really mean and stand for. they telegraph to us what they want..we know where they’re coming from..

    Unlike the lying two faced rats of the Obama gang and the DNC /Democratic party.. who insult Latinos in the worse way..by insulting their intelligence,lying and patronizing them as if they were stupid little children who never seem to learn any lesson at all and keep repeating the same mistake of believing in them..

    My opinion..The author Melissa Beatriz Skolnick has the nerve to lecture us about responsibilities,consequences and accountability..

    She should tell that to her amigo Obama and his los amigos in the Democratic party and DNC.

    But I suspect she won’t ..because after all she wouldn’t want to jeapordiize that future job in the liberal democratic hierarchy..wouldn’t she?

    Furthermore,I think Latinos shouldn’t automatically genuflect to someone who has some letters after their name or a college degree from wherever USA..

    This is a really bad habit Latinos have adopted from centuries of brainwashing and colonization-oppression by european society and mores

    It is my personal opinion that some of the stupidest people out there come out of the colleges and universities.Educated fools and morons who are good at memorizing textbooks and lectures from equally idiotic college proffessors..They’re a dime a dozen.
    And conversely,some of the smartest people I have ever met were those who have no formal education.

    Melissa Beatriz Skolnick
    ..respectfully..I’m not impressed..

  • 5 HispanicPundit // Nov 12, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    I completely agree – I voted. Almost completely Republican. :-)

  • 6 Anna // Nov 12, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Re: “Why do you think a state that has one of the largest Latino (Mexican-American) populations has a problem with voter turnout whereas others like California aren’t as bad?”

    Voter suppression/fraud.

  • 7 Chicano future tense // Nov 12, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Oohhh….HispanicPundit,now you’re flirting with death! :)

  • 8 Melissa // Nov 13, 2010 at 8:09 am

    Dear Chicano future tense,

    I truly appreciate your comments. I am always willing to listen and am very much so open to constructive criticism.

    Yes, I am a college graduate, but no, I am not stupid.

    I simply wrote this article because based off of the research I was able to do, I noticed that the Latino vote did have a smaller turn out for this election. In no way did I mean to come off as condescending. My main goal was to start a conversation, and not to point fingers. I’d also like to point out that my original piece was edited, therefore various opinions are represented in this piece.

    In no way was I trying to take the heat off of Obama and the Democratic party. In fact, it was quite the opposite. This is evident when I say “While Democrats pander to their constituents about plans for overhauling our nation’s immigration laws, this has yet to come to fruition, which is especially frustrating for Latinos.”

    Also, whether I am a Democrat or not does not matter. Although my bias may show a bit in the article, another point I try to portray is that no matter what party you support, the important thing is to vote. So please do not make generalizations. The problem is not that people did not vote Democrat, it’s that not as many people voted as they could have, for either party. Overall, the turnout was lower in general for the midterm elections. I specifically focused on Latinos because this is what this particular blog is about, but I believe that everybody should vote if they have that right.

    Of course the Democrats should be held accountable, so if you would like to write an article about that, please feel free. I could go on and on in order to counter each of your arguments, but I simply do not have the time or the energy. It seems to me as though this piece struck a chord with you, and you proceeded to use this anger to attack the author, instead of the actual viewpoints you possess.

    And honestly, if I could speak to Obama I would, because I risk nothing. No, I do not want a position in the liberal democratic hierarchy. I believe that the government has flaws in itself, but for the time being, we have to work with what we’ve got, don’t we?

    I hear all your points, but I would appreciate it if you would refrain from attacking me as a person. To me, this is unprofessional. You can attack my views and my post, feel free, but please don’t attack my intelligence and my name.

    Lastly, I agree that not everybody who attains a college degree is educated, and vice versa, but I am not one of those people. I also have people who are very close to me who did not attain a degree and are just as intelligent. Anyway, we shouldn’t use arguments like these to fight amongst ourselves, but instead discuss these issues for what they are and meet somewhere in the middle.

    Chicano future tense-
    I sincerely hope you take what I said into consideration, and I hope we can agree to disagree.

    -Melissa

  • 9 webmaster // Nov 13, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Melissa is correct that voter turnout in this midterm was lower than the turnout 2 years ago in the presidential election. She raises a valid point about political engagement. Imagine if all Latinos who were eligible vote actually did, and to take it a step further if all Latinos in the US routinely made calls to their reps, wrote letters to the editor, etc. Should we exceed the expectations for us (the expectation that our community won’t turn out in as high of numbers for a midterm)?

    As for voter suppression/fraud, I do believe it exists, but I think it would be harder to suppress and intimidate if we were more savvy about how we vote (mail in ballots), showing up in a voter caravan, strength in numbers, etc.

    Again, voting is one political act, and its a minimal one. So as Melissa pointed out, there is more to political engagement than simply voting.

  • 10 Anna // Nov 13, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Re: ” I think it would be harder to suppress and intimidate if we were more savvy about how we vote (mail in ballots), showing up in a voter caravan, strength in numbers, etc.”

    I agree. I think some organizing needs to be done in south Texas because their rates of voting seem to be consistently low. But to echo CFT, people aren’t going to be motivated to vote, if voting doesn’t change anything for them. Obama’s base stayed home back east because he didn’t deliver on the economy.

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