Salvo 11.12.2021 10 minutes

The Conservative Latino Future

Man arriving at registration desk in polling place

Recent electoral trends indicate significant problems for the Democrat base.

The Democratic Party has historically taken Latinos for granted, something that we just witnessed play out in several elections across the country. Driven by two main issues–education and public safety–Latinos are emerging as a significant voting bloc capable of flipping blue seats red and realigning either party in regard to platform and policy.

In Virginia, Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Clintonista Democrat Terry McAuliffe for governor. Youngkin ran on school choice, an issue dear to Latinos who understand that education is the key to prosperity and the middle class. A survey by AP VoteCast showed that black voters supported McAuliffe by nearly 8-to-1. Latino voters, on the other hand, appear to have favored Youngkin, who received 55 percent of the Hispanic vote, compared to only 43 percent supporting McAuliffe. If Latinos had voted in the same pattern as other minority voters, it would have guaranteed a Democratic victory. They didn’t, which does not portend well for the future of the Democratic Party, since President Joe Biden won Virginia by 10 percentage points a year earlier.

So did Latinos leave the Democratic party, or did the Democratic party leave them?

The Democrats have lurched left towards socialism, embracing values that vilify private property and individual rights. During Barack Obama’s 2008, 2012, and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaigns, Latinos were solidly Democratic voters, second only to African Americans in their loyalty. However, the Barack Obama that ran in 2008 and captured the hearts of Americans would be considered a right wing Republican by today’s standards. 

The Democratic Party and Latinos have changed over the past decade and now seem irreconcilable. This is especially worrisome to Democrats since Latinos are the largest of the fast-growing demographic groups in the nation, growing by 23 percent from 2010 to 2020. Latinos now account for 62.1 million or 18.7 percent of the U.S. population.

Last year, the Biden-Harris ticket won a comfortable majority of Latinos across the country, but the administration’s poor handling of the border crisis directly impacts Latinos, and it is a serious mistake for anyone to believe that Latinos favor open borders. In fact, polls routinely demonstrate that helping illegal immigrants achieve legal status is of low concern to most American Latinos, who list jobs, education, housing, crime, and other such matters as of higher importance.

In South Texas, which has long been seen as the gateway to the rest of the region, there have been signs that the Republican Party is making headway with Latinos. In the runoff for the 118th Texas House district, which includes San Antonino–a majority 73% Hispanic city–Republican John Lujan eked out an upset win against Democrat Frank Ramirez by 300 votes. Lujan is a veteran firefighter and former Bexar County sheriff’s deputy, and ran on a platform promising to fight efforts to “defund the police.” Democratic also-ran Robert “Beto” O’Rourke campaigned heavily for Ramirez, claiming that  the nation is “watching and paying attention about what happens here, because national Republicans are saying this is a stepping stone to … South Texas.” He’s probably eating his words now.

It should be noted that O’Rourke—a white man of Irish descent who was given the nickname “Beto” as a child initially to distinguish him from his namesake grandfather—is not Latino. Ironically, 2nd and 3rd generation Latinos, like myself, have spent much of their lives trying to assimilate into American culture and have been encouraged to change our names. For example, Tomás becomes Tommy, or Soledad becomes Sally. A leftist’s effort to assimilate into Latino culture by taking a Spanish nickname isn’t cute. In fact, it’s an example of the white privilege and cultural appropriation that the Left often complains about, but falls silent when it comes to their own leaders.

Culture wars divide our nation and patriotism has come under fire, with the American flag now cited as a divisive symbol. Even Pitbull (Armando Christian Pérez), a first generation Cuban-American rapper and singer who is beloved and recognized by Latinos worldwide has spoken out. A video making the rounds on social media shows Pitbull on stage saying “To whoever the f— doesn’t like the United States of America, may God bless you, but f— you at the same time. If you don’t like the United States of America, go back to the countries that we the f— from, and you’ll see how much you appreciate the United States of America.” He often talks about his family fleeing Communism after everything was seized by the Cuban government. He credits his family’s immigration to the U.S. for his work ethic and success. Democrats typically dismiss Cuban Americans as an anomaly, but they do so at their own risk. 

Democrats fail to understand that Latinos are optimistic. While the liberal elite see their children’s future as dimmer than their own, working class Latinos see it as brighter, and believe that every generation will do better than the last. My paternal grandmother was only able to go to school until the 3rd grade, when she was needed to work the fields, but two short generations later, I have a Masters degree. My story is not unique, and you will find many stories of upward mobility among Latinos generations. It is our optimism and belief in America that drives us to work so hard. 

Latinos see America as the land of opportunity, and the reason our hard work is just starting to pay off. Increasingly, U.S. born Latinos are the new middle class. While America is not perfect, Latinos are better off here than any other country in the world. Latinos have some of the highest percentages of voluntary enlistments and service in our military, so it is a mistake for Democrats to think we will stand by and watch it be destroyed. 

As Democrats continue towards achieving a more “equitable” socialist future, which would strip us of our intergenerational aspirations, Latinos will break from the party. There is a major opportunity for Republicans to woo them, something that will shake up the future of the democratic party. President Trump understood this when he began his quest to remake the Republican party by reaching out to Latinos.  

Vice President Kamala Harris likely regrets saying, “What happens in Virginia will in large part determine what happens in 2022, 2024, and on.” Census data shows us that in America el futuro es latino—which is troubling news for the Democratic Party, as the shifting of greater numbers to the Republican Party is the equivalent of a political tectonic plate shift in its political implications.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

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