Politics can be creepy; but one of the efforts to suppress Latino voter turnout in key battleground states, principally Nevada, was a throwback to Jim Crow. Claiming financial support from unnamed “Latino businessmen,” Robert dePosada, a former Republican operative, created an odious print and TV ad campaign carrying the tagline, “Don’t Vote.” The angle dePosada used to justify a message so negative and anti-social was that since neither party did much to further the cause of immigration reform, Latinos should refrain from voting altogether. By withholding their vote, the premise went; Latinos would be sending a message that they will not be taken for granted.
Aside from the obvious fact that boycotting elections only strengthens the party most opposed to your point of view, dePosada and his anonymous backers likely had a more insidious agenda. Recognizing the enormous potential impact of the Latino vote on close races in California and Nevada and elsewhere, he tried to create a disincentive, a principled excuse for Hispanics to stay home. And it might have worked had not Univisión, the powerful Spanish language network, blocked access to any of their affiliates and stations. In rejecting the ad, the media giant said it “prides itself on promoting civic engagement.”
Similarly, rival Spanish-language network Telemundo launched its own “Tu Voto, Tu Futuro” (Your Vote, Your Future) campaign to encourage voter turnout.
Once dePosada and his “Don’t Vote” ad were stymied by the big two TV networks, other outlets and journalists picked up on his scurrilous attempt to undermine decades of struggle by minorities to win voting rights. The image of an elderly Latino, who gained citizenship in the United States after a lifetime of struggle a sacrifice, being confronted by a slickly produced, bilingual ad urging the old-timer to stay home on Election Day is an obscenity; grossly antithetical to the ideals of giants like Cesar Chávez and Martin Luther King Jr. and the legion of others who gave everything to win the right for every American, and those who fought and died to preserve it.