“What will the next 50 years look like?,” asked Chuck Todd. The anchor of MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown was referring to the half century after today, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who also delivered his iconic and inspirational “I Have a Dream” speech.
I hope, you can say I Dream, that we will be more participatory when it comes to our civic engagement and politics, at every level–not just the federal, sexy Presidential election every four years when ba-zillions are thrown to get–or keep out–the vote. But as crucially, state and local elections, right on down to city council and school board.
May Americans and our media Tabasco-tinged tweet and peacefully take to town halls and squares over citizen apathy with the same fervor seen after the MTV VMA Miley Cyrus pena-ajena-inducing-pelvic-gyration-laced-or rubber-bikinied-performance.
This is especially critical for the Latino community whose exponential growth in the following 50 years will place it at:…???…
No need for fancy demographic projections. It will be A LOT. Today’s growth suggests that in 2063, the majority of this country will be Hispanic either because you yourself are Latino, or you married one.
And yet our civic and political participation is disgraceful. Did we come out in 2012 in historic numbers? Yes.
But not because of voter mobilization. Instead, the figure reflects a steady one or two point uptick every four years since 2004 as a function of sheer numbers and not civic evangelization–a belief not different than that held by Christians that in each of us exists the fulfillment of the Promise. This still hasn’t seeped into the collective consciousness of an emerging political class.
11. 2 million Latinos voted.
12.1 million eligibles did not.
This is a shameful number, churned out by the U.S. Census, this persistent and stubborn civic participation lag documented today in a Pew Research Center report.
I have written extensively about the civic and political evangelization that is yet to happen in the Latino community.
Today I watched Congressman John Lewis, original Freedom Rider, who was there on Bloody Sunday and has the scars on his head from being beat by police officers and attacked by snapping dogs to prove it. He and countless, faceless others fought–Dr. King gave his life–for us to fulfill a foundational promise of our values: one (wo)man, one vote–no matter the color of your skin, where you live, or your income.
If you’re feeling meh about voting then you surrender this hard fought right to special interests in the form of Super PACS, extremist elements, and self-serving lawmakers and political parties fixated on a finite campaign cycle.
I have often heard if you don’t vote, you lose your right to complain. True. I will add: it’s not enough to vote, say once every four years and then fall into a dull haze of consumerism, celebrity or politician-behaving-badly latest media obsession, and GIFs.
What bubbles up on social media comes and goes.
However our rights erode, unless we protect them.
Click below to watch a special 30 minute Gaggle roundtable discussion on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd where I joined panelists Michelle Bernard of The Bernard Center for Women, Politics, and Public Policy, Robert Traynham, Georgetown University assistant dean, and Angela Rye, former director of the Congressional Black Caucus and a political strategist. This aired on August 23, 2013.