By Victor Landa, NewsTaco

If what we’ve been hearing from early voter turnout is true, this is a statement year for Latino politics and for the Latino vote.

Less than a month ago the Pew Research Center told us that a record 27.3 million Latinos were eligible to vote this year – 12 percent of the U.S. electorate. The question was whether the old, tired, stereotypical sleeping giant metaphor would awaken (I think you can tell how much I dislike the sleeping giant thing). Reports from the key states of Florida, Arizona and Colorado tell us that Latino voters decided that this would be the year they made their mark.

Mainstream media will tell you that the Latino vote surge is a Donald Trump story, it’s not. This is a Latino vote story and Trump is a minor character. We’ve been telling that story at NewsTaco every day – how Latinos are thriving, starting businesses, bolstering their education, deepening their already deep roots, working hard, overcoming obstacles, how this giant is awake and has been for many generations. To call it an awakening is classic Columbusing, finding something that was already there and calling it a discovery. The difference is that this time Latinos decided to vote, for their own reasons.

This time Latinos feel they’re part of what’s at stake.

When I was born (in Texas by the way, to a maternal family that’s been here for many, many generations) Latinos were scarcely 4 percent of the U.S. population. Now we’re 54 million strong, and voting. The difference is that politicians need us. It’s that simple. The difference is that Latino voters decided that now is the time to make a statement, the difference now is that national politics, politicians and media are listening to Latinos, “discovering” that the sleeping giant got out of its bedrolls. But that’s their story, not ours.

We’re voting this time, I think, because we’re hard working and resourceful, we always have been – we’ll use what’s at our disposal to make our lives and familes better.  A vote is a practical thing, used to overcome an ideological obstacle. You can stamp Trump’s face on that ideology if it makes your logic flow better, but it could be any other face, any other loudmouthed, divisive bigot. Latinos would have reacted to it as well.

It’s not about Trump.

Let’s toss that idea and the slumbering giant into the same ash bin. Trump’s is the face that hangs on brazen nativism. And the Latino vote is the force that rose to fight it back.

This is the story that isn’t being told about us: we’ll work our asses off, shoulder to shoulder with you to make this a better country. But don’t disrespect us, becasue we know we’re 27 million voters and we’ll vote.

The idea that we were sleeping only existed in your stories about us. We’ve been working, and building, and growing all along.

[Photo of early voting lines at the Cardenas shopping center in Las Vegas, Nevada, courtesy of Joe Macias Twitter]

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