Hispanic Americans are rapidly becoming the embodiment of a new political narrative – one that isn’t being written by politicians, and isn’t pegged to the unnecessarily divisive issue of immigration.
The developing narrative of the Latino community is one about economic opportunity. This young, growing, entrepreneurial demographic is today’s most vivid example of what can happen when government creates the right environment for entrepreneurs and workers to do what they do best.
The benefits of an improved economic environment, created through lower taxes and regulatory relief, are reflected in both the Hispanic unemployment rate – which has reached an all-time low and is going lower – and in the ten percent rise in Hispanics’ approval rating of President Trump.
For too long, Hispanics have been treated in the political arena as monolithic – as if they are a single-issue group that must be placated in a certain way in order to harvest a winning percentage of their considerable voting numbers. It was easy to characterize and target the community in this way when Latinos were visibly suffering, growing in numbers but not in socio-economic power.
Today, Hispanics are on the rise in every way. They start businesses at a faster rate than any other demographic group, they have high employment and they are actively improving the economic and social outlook for their children.
It is past time for politicians to view this important group accordingly. For perspective, they ought to consider a recent Economist/YouGov poll indicating that a minority of Latinos support Obama-administration-era “catch and release” immigration policies, and a majority – by a two-to-one margin! – believe that immigration enforcement isn’t strict enough.
Hispanic Americans are an economically vibrant, ambitious community with a variety of views on the issues of the day. This fact requires politicians to appeal to Hispanics in a new way – with an emphasis on economic opportunity.
This may require a new mindset for many leaders, where they begin to think of Hispanic Americans as simply “Americans” – interested in starting a business, finding a job, climbing the social and economic ladders of opportunity and creating a better future for their families.
My father – a legal Mexican immigrant whose entrepreneurial spirit and tireless work ethic drove him to achieve the American dream of citizenship, business ownership and community leadership – used to say that, in politics, there are “no permanent adversaries, only permanent interests.”
The Trump administration is proving that a healthy environment for starting and growing the independent businesses that create jobs is a permanent interest of the Hispanic community. A dedication to creating that environment is a political characteristic that is deeply appealing to a critical mass of Latinos. Those who want to be elected or re-elected this November must take note and change the way they interact with this important, growing community.