If you’ve been paying attention to national politics, you’ll be aware that for President Trump there are two types of Latinos: those who vote Republican — especially in states like Florida — and those he wants to remain on the other side of the border with Mexico.
Since the inauguration of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has made the Hispanic community a scapegoat for everything that is wrong in the country. What the then Republican candidate did not anticipate is the demographic force that Latinos in the United States would become.
By 2018, the country’s Hispanic population reached 59.9 million people, nearly 10 million more than in 2008, according to figures from the Pew Research Center (PRC). Evidence of this change was the result of midterm elections in 2018, where voter turnout increased by an impressive 11%.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 53% of the voting population participated in the 2018 elections, the highest midterm turnout in four decades. Turnout increased by 13% in the Hispanic community alone, the equivalent of a 50% increase. The result? The most diverse and inclusive House of Representatives in the country’s history, with 42 Hispanic–Americans serving as members of the 116th Congress.
By 2020, the outlook is even more overwhelming. The PRC estimates that a record 32 million Latinos will be eligible to vote in 2020, about five million more than in 2016, and abstention is estimated to be proportionally lower. This is due to the integration of Latinos into political life and the radical change in the social consciousness of new voters.
Since Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential victory — due exclusively to the Electoral College, not the popular vote — a large number of Republican candidates who have had the president’s public endorsement have lost in their races.
However, the Democratic establishment does not seem to fully understand the importance of the Latino electorate. Even with the most packed primaries in history, the only Latino candidate, former housing secretary Julián Castro, remains the most underestimated profile, despite having unique plans like comprehensive immigration reform, a plan to end hunger in America, or the Equality for People with Disabilities Proposal.
Since the resignation of Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic landscape seems to be leaning more and more toward the traditional, conformist terrain of the average white American, forgetting important forces such as the Latino vote.
Yes, Bernie Sanders has the media support of important people for the community such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz. But do the candidates really speak to the needs of Latinos in the country? “Tío Bernie,” as Ocasio-Cortéz calls him, has a solid platform of supporters who increasingly believe in his social, economic and environmental justice, but there is a part of our community that resonates more with Republican conservatism.
And nothing is monolithic when it comes to Latinos.
Earlier this year, President Trump boasted a 50% approval rating among Hispanics-Americans through his Twitter account. While this may seem impossible, there is a good portion of the Latino demographic that still supports the Republican candidate, with recent estimates suggesting he’ll pull in 25-30 percent of the Latino vote in 2020.
The paradox, so to speak, is the product of the same problem we’ve been dragging along for decades: the lack of in-depth knowledge about who Latinos are. The candidate who finally embraces our identity for what it is — heterogeneous —will have found the key to the progress of the United States of the future.