A new video project aims to motivate the Latino community, as well as other minorities and young people, to get involved in the political process in the United States.
“Por Tanto Vota,” or “Therefore Vote,” was created following a call to action issued by MARCHA (Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic Americans) to mobilize Hispanic/Latino people to vote in the upcoming presidential election.
The resolution calls on Hispanic United Methodist churches to mobilize their congregations and communities for social action, through grassroots organizing, immigration workshops, vigils and trainings.
The campaign features a series of 30-second interviews expressing the importance of exercising the constitutional right to vote. In addition, discussion materials are being created to help local churches lead conversations on the subject. The campaign focuses on those groups that traditionally are not participating in the political process: young people and minorities.
New videos have been posted daily on the Hispanic/Latino UMC Facebook page, and will continue every day through the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election. They are also being featured on UMC.org, the website of The United Methodist Church.
“We wanted answers to questions about the importance of voting; why United Methodists have a responsibility to vote; what is the relationship between faith, United Methodist tradition and political responsibility,” said the Rev. Gustavo Vasquez, director of Spanish resources at United Methodist Communications. “We also asked about problems and obstacles in the current political system that don’t encourage young people and minorities to vote.
“As Christians, as United Methodists, what relationships do our political responsibilities have with our faith journey? What kind of relationship does our political responsibility have with our Christian responsibility in society?”
While the “Por Tanto Vota” campaign stems from the MARCHA resolution, the videos were filmed with the entire church community in mind. They are in Spanish, English and Portuguese, and feature non-Latino speakers as well.
In her video, Chicago Area Bishop Sally Dyck urged all United Methodists to vote “in ways that will encourage economic justice, that help to alleviate and eliminate poverty, that provide for the best of education and services for children,” adding that people need to vote with children in mind, since they cannot vote for themselves.
The National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry of The United Methodist Church provided support for the video production.
The Rev. Lyssette N. Perez, president of MARCHA, said the group wanted to make sure churches are connected to the Social Principles.
“It is a commitment we have as United Methodists, and they are the guidelines for how to transform our society and the world. One way is to make sure we are part of the decision-making, from municipal level to federal level, for the benefit of all people,” she said.
The Pew Research Center projects there are 27.3 million Hispanics/Latinos in the United States who are eligible citizens with the right to vote in the 2016 election. It is estimated that 11.2 million Hispanic/Latino people voted in the 2012 presidential elections. While that was a record number of voters, it still represented only 48 percent of eligible U.S. Latino voters. The nearly 10 million unregistered potential Latino voters have been referred to as “The Great Unengaged” — unlikely to vote because they believe the political system does not work for them and their families.
“Sometimes, we think because we are a minority in this country that our vote doesn’t count,” Perez said. “We’re encouraging those who can, to vote for those who cannot vote. Those who are undocumented, those who are children.”
The MARCHA resolution states, in part: “In the present political climate, some candidates have based their presidential/political campaigns on fear by criminalizing and dehumanizing documented and undocumented persons. The hateful ideology proclaimed by these persons seeks to silence the voices and invalidate the humanity of those that are at the social/political/economic margins.
“We call on the members of MARCHA who are registered to exercise their constitutional right to vote in the upcoming presidential/congressional elections in November and use your vote consciously.”
Butler is a multimedia editor/producer for United Methodist Communications. Contact him at [email protected] or 615-742-5470.