To paraphrase Shakespeare, "to vote, or not to vote – that is the question".
This week a group called Latinos for Reform an ad in Nevada calling on Latinos eligible to vote to abstain in next month's legislative elections. "It is the only alternative so we may be taken seriously" claimed the ad that you can view here. Though the ad calls out Republicans and Democrats as "traitors" to the Latino community, most of the criticism is placed on President Obama and the Democrat-led Congress.
The controversial ad has drawn plenty of criticism in the press such as a Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist who deemed it "the most despicable and offensive political ad of Nevada's 2010 season". Univision dropped the ad with a spokesman for the latter saying that the network "prides itself on promoting civic engagement and our extensive national campaigns encouraging Hispanics to vote." Despite working with Republican clients, media consultant Lionel Sosa told NPR that would not have approved the ad since abstaining "is something for the voter to decide on their own."
Amid the controversy Latinos for Reform and its chief, Robert de Posada, defended not voting as a viable option "in a civic engagement situation." Yet de Posada, a former director of Hispanic affairs for the Republican National Committee, has been accused of producing the ad in order to to help the GOP in the run-up to midterm elections. Despite claims to advocate immigration reform the ad neglected to show the image of any Republican leaders or legislators. The ad was to air in a state where the Latino vote could be decisive in the Senate race between incumbent Harry Reid and opponent Sharron Angle. Furthermore, in 2008 Latinos for Reform produced a similar ad implyng that Obama's political rhetoric up to that point favored blacks and Africa over Latinos and Latin America.
It remains to be seen what type of effect the gambit by Latinos for Reform has on a Latino electorate that has grown increasingly frustrated with both major parties. (According to a recent Pew Hispanic Center poll "half of Latino voters said they were absolutely certain they will vote in the midterm elections, compared to 70 percent of all registered voters.") Such disappointment is understandable since Democrat legislators waffled on immigration reform and have not done enough to help a weakened economy. Meanwhile Latinos are surely turned off by some Republican candidates intent on demonizing immigrants in the name of short term political gain.
One of the most attention-grabbing counterarguments to the Latinos for Reform ad has come from Cuentame, a campaign run under the auspices of the Brave New Foundation. Cuentame previously gained attention for an outdoor billboard critical of Arizona's SB 1070 immigration law. Cuentame's newest strategy to advocate Latinos to head to the polls is simple: “Don’t Be a Cabrón, Vote”. (Their translation is "Don’t Be a Douchebag, Vote" though the word "cabron" has other meanings including some that are vulgar.)
Will this campaign will make an impact on the Latino vote next month? See for yourself:
Online Sources - Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Atlantic, ABC News, AFP, Wonkette, Huffington Post
Video Source - YouTube