As the public awaits the anticipated November presidential elections, many members of our community do not have the privilege of participating. Despite this, our community can play a key role in campaigning for the issues affecting our community. Even if they do not have the right to vote, it is important to use whatever influence available to ensure candidates address these key issues.
In former elections, national security wasn’t ranked as a top issue for the Caribbean-American community. However, the perennial threat of terrorism from internal and external sources make it imperative for candidates seeking election. But it is important that the community does not live in an environment of fear, as this has the potential to impede the community’s general progress.
The community shouldn’t only be concerned about threats from terrorists, but also about crime, especially the surge of gun violence affecting the youth in our community. Some South Florida neighborhoods are more vulnerable to the impact of crime than others, but it’s necessary that state and national policies are adapted to counter the spread of crime and protect citizens.
Related to the eradication of crime is the fair enforcement of the law to every resident, irrespective of class or race. It is essential that elected national and local officials soon reveal plans to remove one of the worst scourges of recent years – unwarranted abuse from law enforcement officers. The repetition of these abuses has in some instances created an unfortunate breach between communities and law enforcement, which must be bridged. The community depends on law enforcement, but law enforcement must be sensitive to the characteristics and needs of the community to earn the community’s respect. This issue is of utmost priority.
Also the community needs laws to be amended and implemented to ensure courts impart justice impartially. In the recent past, too often has justice been unfairly skewed depending on one’s race, class, or religion. The community expects and should vote only for those who stand for impartial justice.
The state of the general economy still remains a major issue for every community. Currently, the nation’s and Florida’s economy is vastly improved compared to 2008, but the benefits of this improved economy are yet to trickle down to most residents. Although more people are in jobs, several are still not earning a living wage that enables them to maintain a decent standard of living. Americans, including South Floridians, cannot exist on the current minimum wage. The community should elect officials that are sensitive to the need for residents to earn salaries that remove them from the periphery of poverty. There is sufficient economic evidence demonstrating that raising the minimum wage won’t cost jobs, or close businesses, but can actually help expand the economy.
Another potent issue for our community is immigration reform. It’s important to keep abreast of candidates’ differing policy on immigration, to determine whether they plan to reform laws that address the status of law abiding, tax-paying undocumented immigrants, and laws conducive to legal immigrants and others planning to migrate to the U.S. legally.
While the Obama administration has succeeded, against tremendous opposition, to provide communities with affordable health insurance and access to healthcare, opponents are determined to remove this benefit if permitted. This cannot be allowed. Community healthcare is a right, not a privilege. It’s important voters carefully assess which candidates best assure this privilege.
There are several other issues, including access to affordable housing, improvements in race relations, affordable college education, and a reform of Florida’s property insurance policies. One does not need to be able to vote to convey to the relevant candidates the need to positively address the critical issues that affect their personal lives, and their community’s.