My latest for NBC Latino.
Some argue that neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney deserve your vote on Tuesday.
But you are a fool if you consciously decide not to vote for president on Tuesday. You are a fool because this is your country and this is a democracy, and to abstain from making a choice for president is cowardly. If you feel you have been disrespected, then you know nothing about politics and you are just being a whiny baby. Grow up.
You are a fool because Latinos have shed blood in every war since the Revolution and the Civil War to protect this right to vote. Honor your ancestors with the courage of taking part in the basic democratic function of determining the pathway for your posterity.
You are a fool because our culture runs through the veins of this country. The oldest European city of this country is Spanish, St. Augustine in Florida, and when it was established, the largest city on the continent was a city built by Latino sweat and blood, Mexico City. Unlike Jamestown, St. Augustine still stands, and Mexico City is still the largest city on the continent. Be proud. This is your land.
You are a fool if you do not vote for president because you are perfectly capable of understanding the differences between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney outside of the narrowissue of immigration, and within the broader scope of what is the best direction for Latinos in general.
You are a fool if you do not vote for president because if you think you are being disrespected now; wait until future candidates discover you are the type to expect the dignity of genuine attention without exhibiting the capacity to make a difficult decision.
You are a fool if you do not vote for president because the direction of our health care policy is a live or die issue for Latinos. Both candidates have staked a clear position on this issue. If you are too consumed by your own narcissistic feelings about respect to act like a grown up, then by all means, self deport to an uninhabited island where you can live in the comfort of your own empty voice.
You are a fool if you do not vote because there are people who would love it if you did not vote, and in fact are working diligently to help you along with your sophomoric little protest. A cottage industry has been built around creating a facade of voter fraud to justify laws that will be used against you at the ballot box. Your right to vote is being fought over at the federal level because of laws that help prevent these assaults, like the Voting Rights Act. Who do you think appoints the Attorney General who will defend your right to vote?
You are a fool if you do not vote for president because the ability to make decisions about birth control disproportionately affects Latinas, who are poorer and have less access to resources that help them exercise their reproductive rights. Who do you think will appoint the Supreme Court Justices that will defend this right and help ensure that our family and friends have access to safe medical procedures?
You are a fool if you do not vote because our Latino sons and daughters, right now, are risking their lives abroad for our country. They are in Afghanistan and Iraq. They are in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Europe. Latinos are standing guard for you. The least you can do is help decide who their Commander in Chief will be.
Don’t be a fool on Tuesday. Vote for president.