As I travel the country, I sense an unease about our future. I sense dissatisfaction and a desire for a new way forward. The vote we cast in a few days for President is a tangible act for change. The poor single mom sweeping the floors at the local diner votes to be able to take her sick child to the doctor. The unemployed father on the street corner votes to get his job back at the factory. The veteran living next door votes to protect his buddies fighting overseas. The student at the community college votes for her future.
We place our hopes into the hands of a President when we cast our ballot. We look to him for reassurance in a dangerous and complex world. Although we want to believe the President is listening to our concerns, we also want a leader who will do what he believes is right for the country. Finally, we are a great nation and we want to believe in a leader who believes in us.
I was raised during a time when racial minorities had limited political power. Fortunately, we have made progress in America, and the opportunities are better today. However, more work needs to be done. In this closely contested Presidential election, Hispanics, once again, have the opportunity to shape their future; to choose the person they believe will be their champion. The vision offered by President Obama and Governor Romney could not be more different.
Much has been written about the potential influence of the Hispanic vote based on the growing Hispanic population. Unfortunately, Hispanic voter registration and voting has lagged behind other voting groups. I know some Hispanics feel they cannot afford to take time off from work to vote, or that their vote will not make a difference. As a member of a community that values self-responsibility and accountability, such thinking is surprising and disappointing. Every vote is important, of course, and the inconvenience of voting is a price I gladly pay to enjoy the rights and privileges of being a citizen.
Although I am the son of migrant farm workers who did not go to school beyond the sixth grade, I have lived the American dream. I will cast my vote for the person I believe can best help me secure that dream for my children. I will vote for prosperity and security. I will vote for values consistent with my faith. I will vote for America.
The time for candidate speeches and campaigns is at an end. It is time now for us to speak.
Alberto R. Gonzales is the former U.S. Attorney General and White House Counsel in the George W. Bush Administration. Presently he is the Dean and Doyle Rogers Distinguished Professor of Law at Belmont University College of Law.