Convergence and The Forge interviewed organizers around the country by email, asking for their short takes on the midterm elections. For Voces de la Frontera Action Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz, this year points once more to the importance of year-round organizing.
Voces de la Frontera Action is a membership-based community organization led by low-wage workers, immigrants and youth whose mission is to protect and expand civil rights and workers’ rights through leadership development, community organizing and empowerment. Voces de la Frontera Action is based in Wisconsin and has multiple regional chapters including Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Racine, Waukesha, and more.
What was the most effective message or tactic that the other side used? How did you try to combat it? Were you successful?
Voces de la Frontera Action counters the growth of far right extremism by continuing to promote a culture of year-round organizing in Wisconsin—a swing state critical to national politics—Latinxs represent the fastest growing population and voting population, with high numbers of new and infrequent voters who must be engaged year round to build a permanent and growing progressive voting bloc that can tip the balance of power in favor of working people and challenge racism and xenophobia.
This year, Voces de la Frontera Action built our “Voceros por el voto” statewide relational network of Latinx and multiracial voters through family and friends to 28,000 voters. This person-to-person approach is necessary to respond to the barrage of political ads that manipulate and deceive voters on the facts. That was critical to defeat Tim Michels, a Trump-endorsed gubernatorial candidate who ran on a harsh anti-immigrant platform. Though, as we saw in the US Senate race, we need to build more scale to combat false propaganda.
One of the challenges in Wisconsin has been a lot of cynicism within the Latinx community around voting and the political system as a whole that is rooted in the failure of Democrats to pass immigration reform.
The way we addressed this legitimate anger was to remind people of the majority support we have built for immigrant rights in Wisconsin, and how close we were to winning reform last year—in addition to highlighting the serious threat posed by the far-right, Trump endorsed candidates. More than any particular election, we are interested in movement building, cultivating the opportunity for people who are isolated to join others in affirming our inherent self-worth and dignity, and creating collective strategy and actions with the majority of people, who share a common cause and share common needs.