We would be mistaken to assume that this November's general election pales in comparison to the previous ones. Correct, we defeated racist forces that run counter to the interests of our communities during the 2020 presidential election, but we must not forget that this dangerous brand of politics is still on the ballot. Our country's legacy on race will not just disappear, and in order to eradicate its lingering ideologies during the upcoming election, it is up to all of us to exercise our strongest currency — our right to vote. We defeated racism in 2020. Now, in 2022, we must stamp out its continued existence.
During this crucial midterm election, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 out of 100 Senate seats are contested. The fate of Congress' entire infrastructure lies solely in the hands of those who decide to show up to the polls and vote. Two years ago, voter turnout came to a record high in the 21st century, with 66.8% of eligible voters casting their ballots. The turnout increase was largely evident in our Asian American, Latino, Hispanic, and Black communities. Even though Black voter turnout exceeded its respective companions, it remains comparatively lower than the rate of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.
Recent 2022 voter engagement research that the NAACP and HIT Strategies collaborated on reveals that top priorities among Black voters include inflation, gun violence, and criminal justice reform. While we have allowed progress to happen around those key issues two years ago, these fundamental issues surrounding the Black community should continue to be supported by our vote, which will drive forth progress we all have been fighting for. Every single one of our votes holds considerable power, and the more power we feel, the more likely we will cast our vote. Not just for ourselves, but for our community, our future, and our collective power.
Our vote in 2020 was decisive. It made a difference in the lives of millions. If not for our historic turnout in 2020, student debt would not have been canceled–opening opportunities for homeownership and generational wealth, while easing the pain of inflation for so many. We would not have passed the first piece of gun safety legislation in the last 3 decades. We would not have passed legislation that expands medicare for millions of Americans and caps the cost of insulin to $35/month for seniors. We would not have passed $360 Billion to invest in climate change. We would not have passed a piece of legislation that will invest over 2 Trillion dollars on infrastructure–benefiting communities across America, including historically disenfranchised communities like Jackson, who are experiencing first-hand the dangers of racist policies and outdated infrastructure. Steps have been taken to reduce the racial wealth gap, bring manufacturing back to America, and ease the pain of inflation on those most impacted. These actions have improved Black lives and advanced the Black agenda. We still have so much to do — to fight for. And that fight continues at the ballot box, ensuring that we only elect officials who care about our community.
The racist policies we are fighting have been enacted over decades, and some, over centuries. Undoing them will take time. There are no instant microwave solutions to the issues we face. But we are on the right path and making historical progress and a historic pace.
Voters like you and I have been fighting to craft a progressing future for people in our communities. Therefore we must carry on the strength of our voice — our vote — to this midterm election. There is still so much to fight for — the economy, affordable housing, gun violence, abortion access — critical issues that Black Americans are primarily concerned with and have specifically borne the brunt for generations.
I urge each and every one of you to claim your constitutional right to vote for representatives, senators, and measures that champion diversity, equity, compassion, and a greater future. The political residue of racism continues in the midterms. Such menacing actions simply do not disappear overnight. If you had thought that 2020 was the end, the continued wave should move everyone to act.
When we vote, change happens. We voted in 2020 and forged momentous change to realizing the potential of this nation. That is power. Voting is powerful. We've got a lot more to accomplish. And that is why we must vote again in 2022.
Vice President, Policy and Legislative Affairs