Why Aren't All Democrats Calling This Play? | Opinion

It's not necessary to use hyperbole anymore to describe the state of our democracy and how perilous the moment is. But it is not clear that many in the Democratic apparatus share that trepidation and the same sense of urgency. The 2022 midterm election is high-stakes, especially for communities of color. If Democrats want these electorates to turn out to vote, they cannot afford to wait any longer—the time to invest in AAPI and Latino voters was yesterday.

The time for half-measures and 11th-hour investments is over—Democrats need to start playing the game as adroitly and ruthlessly as Republicans. As it stands, they need to start showing commitment to these influential electorates in their investments. With less that 100 days from midterm elections, many continue to approach outreach to voters of color with apathy, taking for granted our election-determining vote—more than 30 million eligible Latino voters and 12 million eligible AAPI voters. Thirty-nine percent of the Democratic voter base consists of people of color, yet where is the investment? Shouldn't we be investing even a fraction of that in getting people of color to come out and vote?

The fact that Democrats have failed in many cycles to collect and clean voter data to reach AAPI, Latino, and other voters of color who can help them win, is alarming. Organizations need accurate voter information that will help them engage and mobilize. The persistent lack of funding for rapidly growing and engaged electorates who have been the margin of victory in important elections may be due to many factors.

But as the rise in anti-Asian and anti-immigrant hate has shown, xenophobia is part of the problem. Electorally, not being able to distinguish one group of Asian Americans and Latinos from another, or, quite often not being unable to identify an Asian American and Latino voter at all in the voter roll is the data equivalent to "all people of color vote for Democrats," when, in fact, that is not the truth. With the limited resources we have, we embarked on our own voter data clean-up efforts—months ahead of midterm elections—to learn more about voters of color and effectively engage in a culturally competent manner to turn them out come November.

Every election, AAPI and Latino organizations pick up the scraps in October to run last-minute campaigns. Yet, without the early and consistent support of party committees and major donors, groups like the AAPI Victory Fund and the Latino Victory Fund are running programs to support AAPI and Latino candidates every cycle. Apathetic engagement is how Democrats lose our vote and winnable elections. Recent examples that should have been wake-up calls are in Virginia in 2021 and Texas in 2022.

 A polling worker cleans a voting booth
A polling worker cleans a voting booth. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

We can't rely solely on President Joe Biden's popularity to win. We need to convince our voters that the Democratic majority has delivered major policy wins despite congressional gridlock, is paying attention to them, and tell them that electing Republicans will make matters worse. And say exactly what we will do if they vote and we win.

These are the commitments we should be making to voters of color in 2022: win 52 Senate seats, hold the House and in January 2023 abandon any pretense that the filibuster works and either modify or abolish it.

Next, within the first 90 days, Democrats in Congress move boldly to pass seven critical bills that will have an enormous impact on our communities—Voting Rights Act, codify Roe v. Wade, ban assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, Equality Act, address federal pre-emption on climate change so the EPA can regulate carbon emissions, enact policies to protect immigrant rights—and finally, expand the Supreme Court to 13 justices and impose 18-year term limits.

Then, on the 91st day, go back to our voters and start the next campaign. Rinse and repeat. None of this is permanent. For Democrats to keep winning at every level of government we must be passing progressive policies while investing and organizing our communities year-round.

This is how we buck history and create a win in 2022. We have the majority power; do we have the will and cohesion and will we see the investments to make it happen? If we don't invest in voters of color, don't make our communities the scapegoat when voter turnout is not what you invested in.

We will get our answer on Nov. 9, 2022.

Shekar Narasimhan is chairman and founder of the AAPI Victory Fund, one of the first-of-its-kind SuperPac focused exclusively on building the political power of the Asian American Pacific Islander community.

Nathalie Rayes is the president and CEO of Latino Victory, a progressive organization working to grow Latino political power by increasing Latino representation at every level of government and building a base of Latino donors to support this critical work.

The views expressed in this article are the writers' own.