On Political Vaporware and Hispanic Voting Registration
by Matt Stoller, Wed Sep 06, 2006 at 10:40:45 AM EDT
When I marched in the immigration protests, I noticed the lack of voter registration forms, but I was told that voter registration would happen later. Apparently not.
LOS ANGELES -- Immigration protests that drew hundreds of thousands of flag-waving demonstrators to the nation's streets last spring promised a potent political legacy -- a surge of new Hispanic voters.
''Today We March, Tomorrow We Vote,'' they proclaimed.
But a review of voter registration figures from Chicago, Denver, Houston, Atlanta and other cities that had large rallies found no sign of a new voter boom that could sway elections. There was a rise in Los Angeles, where 500,000 protested in March, but it was more of a trickle than a torrent.
Protest organizers -- principally unions, Hispanic advocacy groups and the Catholic Church -- acknowledge that it has been hard to translate street activism into voting clout, though they insist they can reach their goal of 1 million new voters by 2008.
Hmm, so they can still reach their goal of 1 million voters by 2008? I'm confused.
Through the Votos por America campaign, Almendárez hopes to get 1 million new voters registered before November's election. That's a big number but a fraction of the more than 7 million Latino citizens who are eligible to vote but have not registered.
Wow, so now the goal is 1 million new voters by 2008, not 2006. Interesting how the goal kind of just changed without anyone saying so. I wonder if registering 1 million new Hispanic voters by 2008 is any higher than the natural rate of voter increase.
This is very alarming news. I imagine that if there is no new registration, there is no new organizing going on, which is going to crimp GOTV plans in November. We saw this happen in the extremely low turnout Cuellar-Rodriguez primary awhile back, though that race was pre-immigration rally.
This lack of registration isn't just bad on its face, it's bad because of what it says about progressive infrastructure. A lot of the new and shiny infrastructure promised after 2004 seems to be little more than vaporware. I'm sure there's good stuff out there, but it's clear that what good infrastructure exists has no accountability or oversite, and that distinguishing between credible and non-credible programs is nearly impossible.
The failure to put a political strategy around the immigration protests is simply tragic. And lying about it to cover up mistakes? That is inexcusable.