Regarding an editorial*, “Commentary: Encouraging RGV voters through civic engagement,” which ran Jan. 27 with The Monitor:
The author, a Michael Seifert from Brownsville, writes, “As the 2014 primary election season begins to heat up, members of the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network are preparing to knock on doors throughout the region, including South McAllen, in a nonpartisan effort to encourage neighbors and friends to get out and vote.”
Nonpartisan? How so? The definition of “partisan” is “strong supporter of a party, cause or person.” It’s a word that is bandied about too easily these days and is misleading in most uses.
His piece ends with “The Get Out the Vote project is a collaborative effort involving LUPE, Proyecto Azteca, ARISE, Texas Organizing Project, South Texas Civil Rights’ Project and the ACLU in Hidalgo County.” Everything between is a partisan position on HB-5.
South Texas Voter Fraud Series
How is all of this “nonpartisan” when the “Get Out the Vote project”—according to Seifert’s list—represents some of the most agenda-driven, partisan-backing organizations in the country? That’s their right, but they are not nonpartisan.
He did mention knocking on doors “throughout the region,” but, why does he emphasize “South McAllen” more than once in the commentary—at the beginning and the end?
I am in agreement that every eligible, legal citizen should get out and vote. It’s the low voter turnout that is this nation’s core political issue. Low turnouts make it easier to buy elections—a problem which abounds in South Texas. Low turnouts make it easy for elected officials to pander to small groups and ignore the remainder of their constituency.
This passive voting problem is not localized to South McAllen or the Valley. It’s endemic—across the nation.
The long-standing voting issues we see in South Texas have been spreading across the country in record numbers in the last decade plus. I’ll call the spade a spade – it’s voter fraud – focused on abusing the rights of the elderly and those who are either uneducated or undereducated – to gain power. We are all victims in the end.
Those are the reasons he should be stating instead of going into emotional verbiage and taking an obviously biased “partisan” position about HB-5. Seifert needs to separate his agendas. If it’s valid, why can’t the issues about HB-5 stand on its own without being tied to the voting rights? And vice versa, why doesn’t he address the voting issues head on if that is his intent? I have no opinion on HB-5, one way or the other. I do have an opinion on voting rights.
Emotionally-charged verbiage is the sleight-of-hand far too often used to get people on board with a particular agenda under the guise of something else; hence the consternation about his editorial. What is the real objective?
For me, suspicion is immediately aroused when an organization titled “Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network” goes into a partisan spiel on a particular issue.
The most glaring discomfort was highlighting a very particular area for the intended audience—in this case, South McAllen—all couched with the “nonpartisan/exercise-your-rights” verbiage.
Why fear calling it the partisan politics that it is? Seifert nullifies any precept of pure intent in the emotion-driven, feel-good words of the organization’s name and his opening statement with the pointed focus on South McAllen—and the position that the quality of education is being dumbed down by HB-5. Of course everyone is concerned about quality education. But, his presentation comes across as sophistry to lull others into acquiescence.
If Seifert’s organization is vested in an “equal voice,” as the name implies, why not focus the quest for voting rights and making a difference to the benefit of all legal citizens of McAllen? He didn’t explain his rationale for focusing on South McAllen, rather than the entire community—or the entire Rio Grande Valley.
Anglos are now approximately four percent or less of the population in South Texas. In the past, some Valley natives and long-timers knew that there was a distinct racial difference in the make-up between North McAllen and South McAllen. Since the Anglo population is now so comparatively miniscule, this no longer holds true. So, under representation of the Hispanic voice (vote) could not be his rationale.
What we do know is that the larger percentage of those living on the north side of McAllen have more education, better-paying jobs and tend to be more savvy and well-informed—the very thing he professes to protect with his issue about the quality of education and HB-5. Wouldn’t their vote count, also? Wouldn’t their opinions matter on the important issues, carrying the same weight in the voting booths?
Seifert is stated as being from Brownsville, which is in Cameron County. Again, he begins his commentary with, “As the 2014 primary election season begins to heat up….” Then he finishes it with “Volunteers will be going door-to-door soon in South McAllen encouraging citizens to register to vote and when election time comes, to vote. Our organization also will be holding a candidates’ forum for the Precinct 2 race and the Hidalgo County district attorney race….”
Why the focus on Hidalgo County and McAllen? Why is someone from outside this area trying to influence the residents and the elections of Hidalgo County?
Seifert also asserts the need for all of this is because people are saying “¿Para qué?” about voting and they don’t see their vote as making a difference. Could he be misunderstanding their frustration?
Is it possible their response is because they are too well acquainted with the voting abuses and the plethora of ways it occurs here?
Next: Part 2, “Setting the scene: Why get involved?”