Friday, November 22, 2019

Guest Bloggers: Michael Ramos and José Miguel Madrigal “Will Presidential Candidates Wake Up The Sleeping Giants?”

With racist remarks, constant dishonesty and a lack of ethical behavior expected of our nation’s leader, the presence of Donald Trump in the White House has undeniably captured the world’s attention. Yet, the world is looking to the Democratic Party as the body to replace Mr. Trump with someone who can restore the United States as the world’s role model. These early stages of the 2020 presidential race have mobilized activists’ efforts in an all-hands-on-deck approach, including ours in the Democrats Abroad Hispanic Caucus with getting out the (overseas) vote.

As the Democratic presidential candidates make the rounds and touch base with all types of constituencies – farmers, nurses, community leaders, union workers, Native Americans, and so forth, noticeably absent from all of their campaign plans is an outreach to Americans living abroad – especially Hispanic Americans. This is a missed opportunity to garner critically important votes that could make all the difference.

A considerable amount of overseas absentee votes await their calling if only the candidates would direct some of their messaging to the Hispanic-Americans abroad community and state their reasons as to why it’s critical to for them to elect a Democrat as the 46th president. For example, the potential for ballots coming out of Latin America alone ranges in the hundreds of thousands to more than a million. Dual nationals and those born on the U.S. side of the border but moved to Mexico as children are potentially an invaluable resource for flipping congressional seats throughout every state. The U.S. Hispanic population living in the Dominican Republic has the power to decide countless state and local races. From the border town of Mexicali to the tip of Cape Horn there are U.S. citizens who speak only Spanish – but as U.S. citizens, they are potential voters largely unnoticed by presidential candidates.

Like other American expats, Hispanic Americans reside abroad for a variety of reasons. As the American population continues to grow, the Latino population does, too. This in turn leads to additional Latinos in military ranks serving overseas, increased study abroad opportunities, more Peace Corps volunteers, greater numbers of teachers of English as a second language, and others.

We can confirm from talking directly to Hispanic Americans in Central America that they care deeply about having a fair and welcoming U.S. immigration policy because of family connections and ease of travel. On the other side of the globe, for those Hispanic Americans in Australia and New Zealand who aren’t as engaged with the politics back home, they’re usually unaware of their eligibility to even cast an absentee ballot in their home state elections or often feel that U.S. policies don’t affect them so they don’t vote. The reality, however, is that most Hispanic Americans abroad still have friends and family back home and therefore still have a voice in electing officials who align with their values. Moreover, many Americans abroad, including Hispanics, limit their time abroad and eventually end up returning home – providing another reason for them to vote for change in their home communities.

The overseas Hispanic-American perspective must be considered when Democratic candidates lay out their plans for tax reform, immigration reform, foreign policy, and several other issues. Hispanic Americans have always answered the call of civic duty by fighting in wars, organizing workers, and indeed, casting our ballots. With Trump challenging the high standard of government ethics almost daily, Democratic presidential campaigns should make an effort to reach out to Latinos abroad and tap into this potentially huge voting bloc to be the 2020 difference-maker.

As Democrats living abroad, we’re no strangers to registering U.S. voters all over the world and encouraging them to request their ballots from home. Our mission is to remove Mr. Trump as the a stain on America’s beloved democracy, and we know we’ll get the job done in the lead-up to November 2020 but only if the presidential candidates provide the spark that Hispanics abroad are hungry for. We’ll do the rest.

Michael Ramos, an Illinois voter and currently residing in Australia, is the Chair of the Democrats Abroad Global Hispanic Caucus.  José Miguel Madrigal, an Ohio voter and resident of Costa Rica, is the Vice Chair of the Democrats Abroad Global Hispanic Caucus. Twitter: @DemsAbroadHC.

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are those of the writer; they do not necessarily reflect the views of Latinovations