The Sleeping Giant Awakes: Latinos are Ready to Vote
In the spring of 2006 millions took to the streets in cities, large and small, across the nation. Carrying signs proclaiming, "Today We March Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Tomorrow We Vote," they voiced their opposition to legislation intended to criminalize 12 million undocumented immigrants, divide families, and foster a climate of fear and intimidation. They demanded instead that meaningful, humane, and responsible, immigration reform be enacted.
Two and a half years later, no such legislation has passed, replaced instead by a toxic and divisive debate that has led to increased raids, illegal detentions, hate crimes, and the very climate of fear and intimidation the marchers took to the streets to oppose. These events have galvanized the Latino community like never before and set the stage for what could be a seismic shift in the American electorate.
Recently released data on voter registration points to the dawn of a new political reality.
Unable to pass new restrictive and punitive legislation, the Right resorted to a mix of increased discriminatory local regulation, increased workplace raids, reinterpretation of federal statutes to allow for civil rights violations, and a media campaign to attempt to legitimize their deportation agenda with the general public. And while they have had some success in riling up their base and redirecting their fears and prejudices towards a fabricated "brown menace" and away from failed economic and foreign policy decisions, the issue has proven to be an electoral non-starter. Campaigns that have relied on restrictionist rhetoric have been utterly unsuccessful..
But now it appears that the dogs of hate unleashed by the anti-immigrant crowd are about to turn around and bite their masters. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s now becoming evident that they woke a sleeping giant and ignited a flame that has fired up the nation's largest minority like never before. This November, Latinos, and other ethnic groups with large immigrant populations, hold the key to victory in not only the obvious swing states, but a few that some might find surprising: