The title for today’s Oregonian, “Latinos to rally outside U.S. immigration agents’ offices in Portland Monday” speaks volumes about the importance of minority voices in politics. Citizens and Oregonians are facing the very real fear of broken families and communities because of shifts on foreign policy.
A CNN poll of Oregon voters found 82% of whites voted in presidential, senate and governor elections. The minority voting population for the same elections was: Black 1%; Latino 9%; Asian 4%; others 4%. Minorities comprise roughly 12% of Oregon’s population, which means that minorities are not absent at the national polls.
In 2015, whites and minorities (not identified as black, Latino, Asian or American Indian a.k.a. “unidentified” minority groups) had the highest median incomes in Oregon. Between 2000 and 2015, Latinos and unidentified minorities experienced the most significant increases in income while whites experienced some upward shift and African Americans experienced no shift at all.
The above information suggests that some minorities experienced positive shifts in income over the past 8-10 years and one could argue that national and local policies, which promote small business financing, government contracting certifications for MWESB businesses, and increased home ownership assistance benefitted minorities. When policies shift focus, so do opportunities.
In 2008, 62% of Americans voted in the presidential election, but in 2010 only 41% of Americans voted in mid-term elections. 2014 was among the lowest mid-term election turnouts since 1912 with only 36% of voters paying attention to congressional and local political offices. The recent presidential election influenced 60% of Americans to vote for political office, but if the trend continues, we’ll see few vote for congress, judicial roles, and local offices throughout the United States.
In our commitment to empowering communities, the Oregon League of Minority Voters must and will emphasize local and mid-term elections to highlight congressional and local leaders’ power over policies that affect our daily lives. To achieve success on every community level from neighborhood to nation, we must pay attention to the work of all who enact and implement laws on our behalf including, but not limited to city councilors, county commissioners, sheriffs, mayors, and judges.