The Latino community came out in extraordinary numbers on Wednesday for the “Comprehensive Immigration Reform March” in Washington, D.C. It was also remarkable to see so many progressive whites and People of Color (POC) marching in solidarity and exercising their First Amendment rights. As Martin Luther King’s colleague Reverend Joseph E. Lowery would say “You could almost see America expand the franchise before your eyes.”
People of all races and religions came from every corner of this nation to give their time, talent, and resources for a noble cause – helping their neighbor. The March was an impressive show of force that will provide added momentum to pushing through Congress commonsense, compassionate, and comprehensive immigration reform. After that, they will stay together to fight for future issues like disenfranchisement, voting rights retrogression, racial profiling, and discriminatory employment practices. Because midterm elections are influential in underlining national issues, 2014 will present a new opportunity for this rising electorate to vote their interests.
The month of March has affected Washington in a big way, bringing even more electoral momentum to an already high powered movement. As we saw in 2012, enthusiasm levels in communities of color tend to drive political activity at the state and local levels too. The next election will probably be a deliberate continuation of this trend. Just like the righteous issues of the past, immigration reform may be the flame that ignites massive voter registration and epic midterm turnout.
So who will benefit from this new political energy? It seems that the Democrats are in the best position at this point. A strong Latino performance in 2012 has moved more than 12 Democratic Congressional swing seats to the safe column. Also, people of color (POC) helped to make 152 Democratic districts safer as “districts of influence” – Congressional districts that are not necessarily majority minority but have enough diversity to affect the election. This will free up resources for challenging a sizable portion of the GOP’s 30 POC swing seats and helping the Dems capture the 17 seats needed to flip the House.
No one can be absolutely sure what will happen in November 2014 but it should be understood that the GOP will face a contextual impasse. Their party is dominated by Tea Party ideologues who are out of touch with the rest of America. As the latest Gallup poll shows:
- 7-in-10 (69%) Americans would vote for a law to allow undocumented immigrants a chance to become U.S. citizens.
- More than 7-in-10 (73%) Democrats and Democratic Leaners would vote for an earned path to citizenship.
- 42% of Republicans and Republican Leaners would vote against an earned path to citizenship.
The bottom-line is that the GOP is now caught between deportation and amnesty - the wrong move could cost them the House. Take Nevada’s 3rd Congressional district where the demographics are 16% Latino, 6% African American, and 12% Asian. The President won this district with close to 50% of the vote and the GOP Congressman failed to get a clear majority of the vote. All it would take is one “47% style” comment or a “bad vote” and this may be his last term.
It’s ironic how obstructionist public policy created this political environment. Meaning, the landscape is what it is today because of the policies embraced in the past. Looking forward, it’s evident that this election will be about legislators channeling their patriotic spirit to understand more compassionately, share more generously, and legislate more unselfishly. It’s unmistakable that they have concentrated on obstruction too long and now it’s time to focus on improving the future quality of life for all Americans.
Photo by: flickr.com/BossTweed