08/24/2012 11:25 am ET Updated Oct 24, 2012

Latino Voters Reach Historic Crossroads

As Democrats and Republicans gather at their upcoming national political conventions, they will be reminded of an important truth: Generation to generation, Americans have never relented in believing that their country embodies the most genuine and basic of ethos -- equality and justice. When we have failed to live by these values, we have strived for change to avoid from faltering or destroying America's identity.

I have seen struggle, and I have seen change during my lifetime. Our nation is again at that cusp.

In my yesteryear, as a California farm worker and ally of Cesar Chavez, I saw the poor rise up against powerful industries, and found inspiration in Martin Luther King Jr.'s words and acts of peaceful civil disobedience against a system that failed to recognize the rights of a whole race. Today, we are at similar crossroads, faced with petty ideologues threatening the rights of communities of color and catering to insurance companies that seek to limit our access to affordable healthcare, while corporations undermine workers and elude their fair share of taxes.

This time around, the fight for change is being led by generations of Latinos with lineage from all across the Americas, made up of citizens of this country and those aspiring to hold that title. We represent a growing population, a force to be reckoned with, a community that is a part of our national fabric.

It is these faces that we have met and seek to meet throughout the ¡Todos a Votar! (Let's Vote!) national Latino voter engagement tour. From my home state of California to the burgeoning neighborhoods of Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado, from Little Havana and straight on the Florida turnpike to Orlando, and beyond to Texas, national Latino advocacy groups have united to register an unprecedented amount of Latino voters and fulfill a promise on November: turnout more than 12 million Latino voters.

We have walked many miles before, and we certainly will walk many more to make sure every unregistered Latino voter signs their name to gain the greatest privilege in America.

In one of the most important elections our lifetime, Latino voters have the potential to pave the future course of our nation. Already, their increased civic participation has been noticed, witnessed by the competition for the Latino vote in the November election.

It would be a mistake to think of us as a one-issue constituency. Yes, it's true that we would like nothing more than for Congress to create a fair immigration process for our brothers and sisters who are every bit American, but don't have the papers to show it or are waiting in limbo to do so. Even so, that's not our only concern.

Latinos not only share the same values as other Americans, but are also working hard to rebuild our economy, fight off hungry corporations and big banks, keep our homes from foreclosure, and pay their children's college tuition. Because we are all a part of the journey to realize the American Dream, Latinos like the rest of middle-America are paying attention to all the issues that affect our wallets and our principles.

It's no wonder that both the Republicans and Democrats are hurriedly seeking the Latino vote. We're not ignorant to the appeals, and we certainly know who is our friend and who is our enemy.

So we will keep reminding all voters, particularly the more than 12 million Latinos expected to vote, that we are a country defined by its promise to equality, esteem for diversity and a praise to innovation, and we can hold these truths only if we make the right choice at the ballot box and hold our elected officials accountable.

The Latino voting population is at these crossroads together with the rest of America. That is why we must vote in November. Our destiny is in our hands.