Will Latinos really decide the upcoming elections?

Will Latinos really decide the upcoming elections?

Guest Post by Juan Alanis (@JuanofWords)

Last week, with the publication of their first ever issue with Spanish words and all Latino faces on the front cover, Time magazine has definitely raised a lot of brows and gotten a lot of people talking.  Yo decido.  Why Latinos will pick the next President., reads the latest issue of the publication, and already the rumor mills are churning.  Some are wondering “has the giant of the Latino voters finally arisen?”  Others are simply questioning “why now?”  Why after all these years are we finally being prominently covered in a positive way by Time?

The magazine itself offers a few reasons.  For one, they point to stats by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), which highlight that nearly 9 percent of all voters this year will be Latino, up 26 percent from four years ago.  They also cite research from the Pew Hispanic Research Center which notes that one in four children born in the US is Latino, and that every month, at least 50,000 Latino citizens turn 18.

Pretty impressive desde luego!

Personally, while the new cover makes me very happy, not to mention proud, I can’t help but wonder what the role of social media has been in the recognition of our community on a larger scale?  Were it not for Latinos In Social Media and all of the other strong and influential Latino groups and organizations online would this be happening at all?  Certainly, it’s no secret that the Latino population is growing and will continue to grow in the future.  In fact, during a recent interview, for a story I was writing for the Houston Chronicle, Stephen Klineberg, Ph.D., professor and co-director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research in the department of sociology at Rice University, shared with me one of the most poignant commentaries about the U.S. Latino population that I had heard in years.  In essence he said that regardless of all of the Arizona-type laws, the increase in deportations and yes, even a supposed electric border fence, nobody was going to be able to stop the “Latinization” of the United States.  That as a community, we are at the cusp of what is yet to come.  Bigger and better things we can hope.

Honestly, I don’t think we’d have such a prominent role so soon were it not for the power of social media.  Through message boards and online social platforms we have raised our voice in a way that until a couple of years ago would not have been possible.  Latinos, like other minority and niche groups, have found our strength in uniting as one.  The question now is will that union actually make a difference at the polls this year?  And also, can any one candidate conquer the majority of the Latino vote?  It’s nice to know that they’ll at least have to try.

One final note about the Time magazine cover.  All of the people featured in the cover are residents of Arizona.

Juan Alanis a.k.a. @juanofwords is the Founder & Editor of the award-winning blog www.juanofwords.com.  He is also Director of the Houston LATISM Chapter. You can follow Juan on Twitter and Facebook.

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