During a town hall in Miami, Florida on Wednesday, President Obama addressed frustration from many regarding a lack of progress on immigration reform, saying that the system won’t truly change until more voters turn out and make it happen.
“Ultimately, we have to change the law,” Obama said. “And the way that happens is, by the way, by voting.”
Obama’s town hall was hosted by MSNBC and Telemundo anchor José Díaz-Balart, and the president focused heavily on the November election’s 72-year low in voter turnout. Just 36.4 percent of voters went to the polls for the midterms – the lowest in an election cycle since World War II. Voter turnout for 2014 was down 40.9 percent from the last midterm cycle in 2010, resulting in Republicans taking control of Congress.
“Why are you staying at home?” Obama asked during Wednesday’s town hall. “Why are you not participating? There are war-torn countries, people full of poverty, who still voted 60, 70 percent. If here in the United States of America, we voted at 60 percent, 70 percent, it would transform our politics. Our Congress would be completely different. We would have already passed comprehensive immigration reform."
President Obama acknowledged that he has a responsibility to advance his agenda, but maintained that it was also up to voters to advocate for the change they want to see.
“Staying home is not an option,” he said. “And being cynical is not an option. And just waiting for somebody else -- whether it's the president, or Congress, or somebody -- José -- to get it done, that's not enough."