early voting flatbush 2020 elections
A line of voters outside Brooklyn College in Midwood/Flatbush drew thousands, including older voters, over the weekend of October 24 and 25. Photo by: Garry Pierre-Pierre

By Bobb Rousseau | Columnist

The self-proclaimed Haitian diaspora leadership demonstrates reluctance in understanding that, to catch the U.S. government’s attention or compel lawmakers to do whatever they demand them to do, they must transform the presence of Haitian immigrants in America into a booming political movement. Moreover, they must incentivize them to court the Haitian diaspora before making the slightest decision regarding American policy toward Haiti and the Haitian diaspora.

American and political parties demonstrate no will and desire to gain the Haitian vote, even in the most competitive states like Florida, Pennsylvania, or Georgia, where neither party holds a clear majority. American lawmakers do not answer the various letters of the Haitian diaspora urging them to install a transitional government or take a position against organizing elections in Haiti. The United States government does not consider Haitian immigrants’ political values and contributors to American local governments and politics. The few Haitian-Americans, who vote, naturally vote democrats. Thus, the Haitian vote is too negligible and unnoticeable to sway election results and influence American foreign aid policy making to Haiti. 

The Haitian diaspora has the power to influence American foreign assistance and diplomatic policy to Haiti. However, they lack the required strategy to unleash such a power. The first thing they must do is operate their organizations as Haitian-Americans instead of as Haitians who live in the United States. Doing so requires community engagement to boost their political presence, build their political corporation, encourage residents to become citizens, and energize the Haitian electoral base to showcase their vote.

The second thing is to tell American lawmakers that Haitian-Americans indeed do vote and vote next time for the candidates who will defend Haitian interests before Congress and the federal government.

The Haitian diaspora must reinforce their demand messages with their power to affect local and general election outcomes through votes, campaign donations, and fundraisers for candidates. Haitian-Americans have been asking the United States government for the wrong thing since the genesis of Haiti’s political crisis. They have been requesting meetings with American lawmakers but never for them to see their political value. In fixating  on so, they fail epically at providing any leadership to become the go-to entity to help with the crisis.  

Until Haitian-Americans flex their political muscle through ongoing community engagement and fostering an attractive political presence, the U.S. government will always see them as an obstacle to avoid or as a bunch of leaders who mainly care about TPS.

There is a growing need for the Haitian diaspora vote to matter in the United States and use it as leverage to attract and empower American lawmakers to become lobbyists for the Haitian cause. Haitians in the United States, to build the Haiti that Haitians in Haiti need, must convince American politicians that if they do not support Haiti and its diaspora, they will not receive Haitian votes and Haitian money for their subsequent campaigns the American politicians.

Bobb Rousseau holds a Ph.D. in Administration and Public Policy with specializations in Public Law and Managing Local Government. Dr. Rousseau firmly believes that the Haitian diaspora in the United States is at a prime stage to build an attractive political force that can shift U.S. immigration, diplomacy, and humanitarian aid to Haiti and to advance the Haitian agenda around the world.

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