Credit: John Cole, The Scranton Times-Tribune, PA

This generation of young people is out protesting. Last year they were protesting climate change. Recently they have been leading Black Lives Matter protests. We owe them a debt of gratitude for doing this. In addition to demonstrating, however, they must vote if the things they care about are going to be addressed. Trump denies climate change and denigrates the need to address systemic racism!

People in this age group tend to hold negative views of both parties and are skeptical of what they would gain by being part of one. While the Biden/Harris ticket is addressing the youth vote in general, it has not focused specifically on young Latino and African-American voters. It needs to do so.

Black voters propelled Joe Biden to the Democratic nomination. If he is going to win he will need all of their votes. While polling shows that most of the Black electorate is behind Biden/Harris, there is a sizeable slice of African American voters, under the age of 30 (up to 49 percent) who are not enthusiastic about the Democratic ticket. They don’t have confidence that the system will or can function in a way that will help their lives.

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While polling, with the exception of Florida, shows a majority of Latinos supporting Biden/Harris, research shows the same large pool of young Latino voters, under 30 (up to 41 percent), who are ambivalent about the Democratic ticket. These voters, like their African-American counterparts, don’t believe their vote will make a material impact on the election, much less on their lives.

Donald Trump has, in the Woodward Tapes, given Biden/Harris a campaign gift capable of reaching young Latino and Black voters: Trump knew last January how deadly the coronavirus would be (“more deadly than even your strenuous flus”).

The data on COVID-19 and communities of color is clear: They are being hit disproportionally harder than Anglos. African-American infections and deaths are nearly three times greater than whites; Latinos, nearly four times greater. Young voters of color know this first hand. They know that the racial/ethnic disparity in COVID infections and deaths is being caused by such things as lack of access to health care, lack of child care, inability to take time off from work, and multiple generations sharing housing. They need to be “reminded” that none of these things would be addressed under a Trump second term.

The campaign I envision would be in Spanish and English. It would point out that not only did Trump know that the virus was airborne and deadly, but that it would infect both children and young people. It would stress that, nevertheless, he lied about it, knowing it would kill hundreds of thousands of us. It would point out that had he acted, at least 54,000 lives, 3-4 times greater among minority communities, would have been saved. And, that as he continues to deny the virus, research shows that we could lose as many as 400,000 lives to COVID by the end of this year, again with 3-4 times more deaths among communities of  color.

The campaign would stress that Trump’s denial of COVID is not just to mask his culpability in the death and disease the pandemic is causing, it is part of his racist campaign.

The public health community, including Trump’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has known for years that diseases like COVID-19 impact minority communities the hardest. For example, 61 percent of Spanish-speaking Latinos could only do their jobs in the workplace because they are service jobs. For African Americans, chronic diseases and disparities in access to health care make them more susceptible to viruses like COVID. Donald Trump either knew or should have known of these susceptibilities to the coming plague. Yet, he did nothing!

Pointing this out to those young Latino and African-American voters ambivalent about voting in November could override their ambivalence to voting. It could also make a difference big enough to tip the election to Biden/Harris.

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