Thursday, May 9, 2013

Going Out To Vote

People like the mayor and a coworker of mine seem to think that the Hispanic vote is what drives election results, but the numbers don't reveal that.
Last year, Mayor Salinas took time at the start of a council meeting to voice his disappointment with local voter turnout.  He laid out the reasons why we should get to the polls:  the sacrifice made by military personnel, women not being allowed to vote in other countries, and of course, the future of our children.  Little does he know - or perhaps refuses to admit - that voter rolls won't improve because of ineffective people like him.  

But let's get to some actual numbers.

Census data breaks down what groups of people actually showed up to vote during the last two presidential elections.  Black people saw an improvement in their share of eligible voters with 66.2 percent turnout.  Brown people not so much.
Latino turnout dipped slightly, from 49.9 percent in 2008 to 48 percent, while Asian-American turnout was basically unchanged at 47 percent.
The future growth of the Hispanic population looks formidable, but what difference does it make if we don't have an incentive to go out to vote?  Guilt trips are not the way to get us inspired.  Surely we need somebody to show us the way.  Perhaps it's Mayor Joaquin Castro, or some other influential Latino figure.  Or perhaps it's nobody that can help drives local voting numbers up because of the example being provided to us right here in our backyard.

We may have a born leader that emerges from the Hispanic ranks, somebody who will change the way we think about politics and the role of government.  But that might not matter if we're dissuaded from action by the likes of Raul Salinas, Charlie San Miguel, and the rest of the local funky bunch.  Our own leaders are going to have to realize that Laredoans' apathy is a direct reflection of the job they're doing.  They can pat themselves on the back all they want.  But if Webb County turns out at a rate of 30 percent or so, then that's the rating we give our local politicos, and that doesn't make for one hell of a photo op.

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