Today marks the start of the five-day festival of Diwali, celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs around the world. During Diwali, originally a harvest festival, lamps are lit to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, fireworks are set off to drive away evil spirits, and prayers for prosperity are offered to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Collected here are images of this year’s festival, as celebrants color their world, give prayers, and wish each other a happy Diwali.
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By: Sarah Betancourt
Pundits, pollsters, and candidates had emphasized the importance of courting the growing Latino population in this election. Exit polls show that President Barack Obama demolished Mitt Romney in his support from Latino voters, 71-27 percent. National Latino organizations have stressed the importance of increasing the number of registered Hispanic voters to change the course of the election. Clarissa Martinez, Director of Civic Engagement at the- National Council of La Raza, talked about the greatest challenge facing Latino voters in an election cycle. “When you look at the electoral cycle you can see that voter registration doesn’t play a starring role. a big portion of the expenditures go to mobilizing the habitual voters, not Latinos. Once registered, Latinos have strong participation rates. In 2008, 84% of registered Latinos voted.
The media has focused on the misconception that Hispanics do not vote. Recently released information focuses on saying that only 12 million of 24 million Latinos of voting age would vote in 2012. However, this does not take into account the fact that 10 million of this total is unregistered. Of the 14 million who are currently registered, 12 million were projected to vote. This information will only become more pressing for the winning party to pay attention to, as 890,000 Latinos will come of age every year between now and 2028.
Axel Caballero, Director of Cuentáme in California, discussed their coalition’s strategy for civic engagement and media outreach. Cuentáme-started three years ago, as an online community, mimicking the ideology of a Latino meal- everyone is at the table, taking part of the conversation. Cabellero said,” We figured that was the best way to was going to be through story telling. When the SB 1070 measures arose in Arizona, we had 25 videos produced and our support exploded. We have half a million Latinos supporting us online, and have a coalition of 400 organizations that have called a million Latinos on the ground. We decided to debunk the misconception that Hispanics don’t vote with our campaign launch in October called, “Latinos Don’t Vote.”
Cuentáme and the NCLR are two organizations part of coalitions in swing states like Nevada, Colorado and Florida. Caballero said, “In Florida, we showed videos on voting to educate people and take away voter suppression efforts. In Nevada, we had PSA’s on all major Latino media networks. In Colorado- we had the “Tell me who you are and I’ll tell you who you’re with” campaign. Because of this, we were able to register 280,000 new voters.” Cuentáme focuses primarily on media outreach for the coalitions. “We provide the media tools so we can get this on the ground. We’ve had videos with Eva Longoria, and other celebrities to make a major impact. I’d say our goal for 2012 is to have 12% electorate that votes be Latinos. “
When asked who they support, the NCLR claimed non-partisanship and stressed the importance of the winning candidate, Barack Obama, focusing on issues that are important to Latinos. Martinez said “The most important issue for us is jobs and the economy. Polls in the past ten years, have been consistent on that, and education being second. However, ever since the 2010 anti-immigrant measures, immigration has become a higher priority for Latino voters. Immigration is a very personal issue. Half of Latinos know someone who is undocumented and even if they don’t, they feel the toxicity of the dialogue. They want someone who can push comprehensive immigration reform not let this fester. The issue sets the barometer on how Latinos see the rest of their community viewing them. Republicans have become the leading voices of anti-immigrant issues. They are their own worst enemies and Democrats’ best friends.” She stressed that Latinos do not necessarily vote Democrat all of the time.
“People assume that they’re a democratic constituency, but if you look at races in Florida and New Mexico, you’ll see that Latino voters will split the ticker and vote for candidates who take a stand on the issues they care about.”
The NCLR had over 200,000 volunteers working on voter registration nationally.
Elizabeth Warren: Are you asking me if after a year and a half here, I am more attracted to coming to Washington?
David Corn: That’s one way of putting it.
Warren: That’s one way of putting it. Yes, that, or I can stab myself in the eye.
Corn: Is that a no?
Warren: It’s my view about Washington.
That was Elizabeth Warren speaking with MoJo’s David Corn in 2010. Someone please keep the Massachusetts Senator-elect away from sharp objects tonight.