POLITICAL SIESTA OR POWERFUL FIESTA?

Issue

Although Latinos are the second largest ethnic group in the United States of America, next to non-Hispanic White Americans, so far we have failed to harness the political power by lacking the lobbying efforts needed to elect a US President of Hispanic origin.

Of the nation’s approximately 53 million Hispanic population, Mexicans make up the largest composition, followed by Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Salvadorans and Dominicans, which complete the top half of the Hispanic population in the United States.

The other half of the population comes from countries in Central or South America. Even though we all share a common language, culture, religion, and sports. We have yet to become unified as a more powerful political block.

There are several reasons for the lack of political participation as well as for the necessary transformation into a massive voting bloc.

1) The young age of the Hispanic majority makes it less likely they will take an active interest in the political process. The median age of the Hispanic population is 25.5 years of age, but some groups are younger: the two largest groups of Hispanics, the Mexican Americans and the Puerto Ricans, average 22 years of age. The third largest group, the Cubans, average 35 years of age. Of the three largest groups, its the Cubans who have demonstrated the greater levels of political interest.

2) Many are still not considered legal and cannot cast a ballot because they are not US citizens.

3) Poverty, which affects political participation. According to statistical date, there is a correlation between their level of education and their disposable income. Since up to a quarter of Latinos live below the poverty level, they are less likely to participate in the political process even though they are most likely to gain from their participation.

Other factors which contribute to low political participation include apathy. Many believe that their vote will not make a difference and distrust of the political system because of previous experiences in their home country.

However, once this massive political powerhouse decides to come together and unite to develop a political platform, we will become a force to be reckoned with by the entire free world.