On a second floor office of the Commercial National Bank building in downtown Washington, D.C., a handful of people are working to ensure that the Latino demographic becomes a formidable political force.
The office décor doesn’t broadcast that such a hefty undertaking is ongoing in the headquarters offices of Latino Victory Project. Visitors find laminate tables serving as desks, neon-green Eames molded plastic chairs mixed with small couches and a few posters, most of the furniture bought bit by bit at Ikea.
‘Demography is Not Destiny’
“This bright promise of the future will not happen if we expect it to just take care of itself,” said Henry Muñoz III, who co-founded Latino Victory Project with actress and political activist Eva Longoria. “For too long we have told ourselves ‘Si Dios quiere’ (If it’s God’s will). I don’t think that’s what we have to do in the future,” Muñoz said to NBC News.
So the project’s president, Cristobal Alex, shows no embarrassment in inviting guests and donors to his understated office or holding a fundraiser there. “It’s not because we don’t have the resources to buy expensive oak desks and large high-definition televisions. I’d rather use the money to spotlight up and coming candidates,” Alex said.
Right now, the political world’s focus is on 2016 and who will replace President Barack Obama in the White House. While that is important, Alex said Latino Victory Project’s longer lens is trained on the year 2020.
That is the year of the decennial Census, followed by a presidential election, followed by redistricting, when political boundaries for elections are drawn.
The community has to be ready when that year hits so it can elect more Latinos than ever, particularly in state legislatures, “so we can help shape the redistricting boundaries and then help drive policy for the balance of the century,” said Alex.
“It’s a very audacious goal, with a short turnaround time,” he said.