By Robert Bracamontes
The right of suffrage escapes many Latinos, not because they do not want to vote, but because democracy in America will not allow it. Even though our democratic government was founded on a great principle, that no person shall pay taxes without representation, millions remain excluded. The illegal, undocumented, alien community, as defined by America, is persecuted as if they were the political lepers of our country. The inalienable right to vote unequivocally belongs to the people that live, work, and pay taxes where they raise families. It should never be tainted and corrupted by a definition designed to exclude or eliminate people based on their national origin, as if that criteria alone defines or changes the civil liberties granted to all citizens in a real democracy.
What remains to be done is to create a policy that is all-inclusive. It is time for us to think like the revolutionaries of the past. They wanted freedom from a system that excluded them from voting and so do we. The government should immediately extend all voting rights to all workers that have paid over one penny in local, state or federal income tax, regardless of national origin. If European immigrants led a revolution to form this country based on no taxation without representation, why should immigrants from Cuba, Mexico, El Salvador, and others not be afforded these same inalienable rights? There is another policy change that must accompany voting rights and that is accessibility to the voting both.
Most workers are not given clear access to the voting both. What is needed, especially in these apathetic times, is a national voting day. Latinos and others are not looking for another holiday to celebrate any more celebrity-oriented, heritage-based, paid vacation days. Workers want a day of substance when they do not have to ask or beg their boss for time to go vote. Close all the stores, gas stations, brothels, liquor stores, and give this national voting day as big a send off as Christmas or New Year’s. This is a day when what takes place effects our lives in a dramatic way and is, alone in the absoluteness of reality, even more important than Christmas (the consumer index spending day), New Year’s (the party, alcoholic, drunk driving day), Cinco De Mayo and September 16th (appeasement day, for the 46% Latino population in LA that so far could not elect a mayor). We must demand that the current political system answer the fundamental question of justice and equality, by the very foundation of which voting is in fact guaranteed by the tax money that is taken from each potential voter.
We, Black, White, Latino and Latina, Asian, Arab and Jew, all must unite behind the banner of a democratic system that does not eliminate a single voice, a single vote. A democratic society’s very existence depends on the meaning, purpose and importance that each person ingests by his unlimited participation in the voting process without prejudicial or political apartheid policy, regardless of national origin.
Democracy belongs to all productive beings, the janitor, the maid, the truck driver, and the farm worker, anyone exploited for their labor. Regardless of the mirage created by capitalists, fascists, socialists, and so-called governments, all workers have the right to vote where they live.
Democracy is not the pretentious restrictions that the state, in any nation, imposed by force and or cohesion on the elimination of any sector of the population from not being active or participating in the democratic process.
However, what is democracy? My democracy belongs to all humankind. The laws of human dignity grant it to us. The laws of human nature that guarantee freedom to every person on earth with out discrimination prejudice or preferences belong to you. On Election Day, there is no difference between a rich vote or a poor vote, white vote or black vote; in my democracy, we all count equally.
In my democracy, there need be only one real holiday, one national day of recognition. It is Election Day.