October 24, 2018 at 1:44 pm PDT | by Ari Gutierrez Arambula
Yes, your vote matters

Ari Gutiérrez Arámbula identifies as LatinX Lesbian and is a longtime community leader based in Los Angeles, a volunteer non-profit board member and, with her wife, raising their 7-year-old daughter to be empowered and politically aware.

Likely you are obsessed with politics (as I am) or are not at all interested. Recently, a political fundraising caller asked if I knew how many seats had to be turned from red (Republican) to blue (Democrat) to “Flip the House” (change leadership in the House of Representatives).  Amazingly, I answered “23,” not realizing that fact had sunk in subconsciously.        

As the Nov. 6, Election Day approaches, we do not need to know the granular details of politics but we must understand that each vote really does matter – especially yours!  Even if you are not yet clear about the ballot initiatives or the names of the candidates—the important thing to know is that your vote matters and it is your responsibility to make the time to vote.  It is so important that your employer is required to allow you the time off to vote—just ask.

In elementary school I was allowed to miss school once and that was so I could attend my mom’s citizenship ceremony.  When I asked why this was so important, her immediate answer was that, as a naturalized citizen of the United States, she could now vote.  She has not missed a vote since nor have I since I turned 18.  Campaigns would be wise to focus on this “niche” electorate of Latino voters, including immigrants and U.S. born Latinos.  As per a recent Latino Decisions poll, more than 84% of Latino voters are expected to vote in the midterm elections.

This high regard for voting is common among those who immigrate to the United States, often under desperate circumstances, and value the quality of life opportunities the U.S. can provide for them and their children.  For those of us fortunate to be born in the U.S., voting is a responsibility we owe our country. Voting is the most powerful defense a citizen has to assure those in power are held accountable.  Our government was formed “…by the people, for the people…” and some elected leaders need to be reminded of that fact—the hard way.

You, and we collectively, can “Vote ‘em out” if they don’t do what they promised to earn our vote.  If you voted for someone who turned out to be not so great—Vote ‘em out!  We, the voters, have the last word.  That’s the gist of Willie Nelson’s song in support of the breakout candidate, Beto O’Rourke, running against Texas Senator Ted Cruz.  That sentiment applies in every state of the union!

Whomever you are—if you identify as L-G-B-T or Queer, if you are an immigrant or transplant from another state, if you are the first in your family to graduate from college or if you are the next lawyer or doctor in your family.  If you are single or married, with or without children, if you are HIV positive and managing life as a senior or if you are Transgender with the healthcare you need to live as your authentic self, if you are one paycheck away from becoming homeless or live in a community that is being gentrified— your vote matters! 

If you are part of the post 2016 election resistance, if you believe Black Lives Matter, if you are a feminist who believes women have the right to make health decisions for ourselves, if your skin color is dark, light or somewhere in between, if you believe women can govern just as well—if not better—than men, then your vote matters!  If you want to redirect the school to prison pipeline toward good paying jobs for young men and women of color then your vote matters!

As a co-founder of Honor PAC working to elect LGBTQ LatinX candidates, like State Senator Ricardo Lara, a co-founder of the Latino Equality Alliance working to build majority support for the LGBTQ community and our families in people of color communities, a board member of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Foundation working to make life affordable for LGBTQ seniors and the disabled, as a member of the Stonewall Democratic Club working to endorse legislation and candidates that support our values and priorities, I urge you to vote!

While in this midterm election there is no specific anti-LGBT initiative on the ballot—our rights as a community are always challenged by Donnie-come-lately candidates who are against us and our values.  We must learn the issues and consider the candidates’ priorities.  Ask who is endorsing them.  Are the propositions and candidates aligned with your values and beliefs?   A good way to prepare to vote is to use a voter guide issued by organizations that you support – such as the Stonewall Democratic Club. 

If you believe in equality and equity—vote to assure the laws and policies of our city, state and country reflect the values and priorities that you support!  Voting is a right and a responsibility – now, support the March for Our Lives…and cast your ballot!

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