On Nov. 2, Latinos came out en force to polling sites across the United States and helped make a major difference in national elections. Comprising eight percent of nationwide voters, Latinos played a key role in deciding elections in Colorado, California and Nevada, and are credited for helping defend the West from the Republican wave of victories.
In Nevada, where U.S. Senate candidate Sharon Angle drew much criticism for ads that appeared to demonize immigrants, Latinos supported her opponent, incumbent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, 68% to 30%. It probably didn’t help much that Angle also told a group of Latino students at El Rancho High School–of which a good number of my own family are proud alumni–that they appeared “Asian” to her. It was a similar story in California with Latinos favoring new Governor-elect Jerry Brown over GOP rival Meg Whitman, 65% to 28%. While trying her best to court the critical Latino vote, Whitman appeared hypocritical in producing Spanish-language ads touting her tough stance against Arizona’s controversial SB-1070 immigration law while also telling her conservative base that she supports the law as it stands. She also earned a large push-back for employing an undocumented immigrant housekeeper, firing her, and then eventually calling for her deportation.
This past Election Day, Latinos made it known that they will not sit by idly, but rather that their voice will play a critical role in helping to develop the future of this nation and its politics. And this participation is certainly thanks in no small part to online grassroots organizing throughout the U.S. that helped inform Latinos of what was at stake in this election and how, exactly, they could make their voice heard.
Unfortunately, however, these tremendous strides are currently being threatened. For all the progress we have made in using the internet as a platform for sharing our history, connecting with loved ones, combating hateful language in the media, and promoting entrepreneurship, Latinos could suffer a tremendous disservice if we lose the free and open Internet that has led to so many advancements within our community. My dad still marvels whenever I am able to pull up facts and photos of his rural hometown of 2,500 in Jalisco, Mexico in just a few clicks. Similarly, he is thankful whenever I am able to use the Internet to connect him to potential clients for his home-grown carpentry business. For Latinos like my dad throughout the U.S., the Internet has opened a world of opportunities not only for cultural enrichment but also for economic development. Such benefits cannot be overstated for a population that continues to grow and to play such a vital role in our nation’s discourse.
For these reasons, Public Knowledge is proud to have partnered with the Latinos for Internet Freedom (LIF) coalition. LIF is composed of over 40 national and local organizations that represent Latino communities and are dedicated to preserving a free and open internet not only for Latinos but for every one that stands to benefit–and that means everybody that logs on to a computer with any regularity. We encourage you to click on the button below to learn more about the coalition and its mission.