Imagine the following scenario:
Donald Trump enters the 2024 presidential election, but announces that he is replacing former Vice President Mike Pence as running mate with a Latino. The former president maintains that it’s time for everyone to recognize what was once considered impossible: Latinos want to become Republicans in droves.
He chooses someone younger, more charismatic, and even more conservative than himself – a child of an immigrant who grew up in poverty but pulled off the proverbial bootstraps to be successful in the United States. vendido – a sale – are flatter and more out of date than a quesadilla.
From east Los Angeles to south Texas, from Little Havana to Washington Heights, just enough inspired Latinos become the deciding vote that secures Trump’s victory – maybe even the very first time that a GOP presidential candidate has won a majority of the Latino electorate. The GOP is thus finally fulfilling the prophecy long attributed to Ronald Reagan – that Latinos are Republicans who just don’t know it yet.
Crazy scenario, right? Actually no.
In an alternate universe, that could have been totally one thing – and recent polls and studies showing Latinos are more politically conservative than at any time in recent memory are proof of that.
Earlier this month, the the Wall Street newspaper revealed that the Latinos his pollsters spoke to support Republicans and Democrats in equal numbers, and that only one percentage point separates Joe Biden from Trump in a hypothetical 2024 rematch among the Latinos they polled. Two research groups pro-Democrats found that Latinos are increasingly dissatisfied with blue sight. Another Democrat-aligned company found that Democratic politicians’ use of ‘latinx’ offended Latinos enough to the point that 30% of those they spoke to would be less likely to vote for a politician who used the term .
Even a Fairleigh Dickinson University Study who discovered that Americans believe more than ever that there is a war on Christmas revealed that Latinos buy this farce with more fervor than any other ethnic group.
All of this news comes a year after Trump – who, in a quick recap, dismissed Mexicans trying to enter the United States in the 2015 speech that heralded his first presidential run as rapists and drug traffickers, posed with a hideous taco salad in a 2016 Cinco de Mayo tweet, and called El Salvador a “shitty” country in 2018 – relied heavily on its 2016 Latino backing to get 38% of our votes. It was the highest percentage since George W. Bush won 44% of the Latin American vote in 2004.
Latinos’ conservative political shift has sparked furious anger among Democratic agents and joy among conservatives, who are now hoping that one of the gifts under their Christmas tree this year is the Latin American vote of 2022 (the poor Democrats , meanwhile, are stuck with a large lump of West Virginia coal in their socks).
I wrote about this phenomenon in several columns before and after the 2020 presidential elections. I see it on the streets, on social media and in polls – it’s real and it’s reaching its boiling point.
There are many immediate reasons why more Latinos are voting Republican right now: an attraction to Trump’s boastfulness, exhaustion with COVID-19 mandates, a repudiation of the social justice causes Democrats have campaigned on in the past. over the past two years to the detriment of the economy.
Democratic activists reject these points and instead blame the very real disinformation campaigns on social media that portray President Biden at best as a communist and at worst a child-eating reptilian as causing too many Latinos to quit their party. But the most important reason why there is always a chance for Latinos to become conservative is because it’s intrinsically within us thanks to a political philosophy that I call rancho libertarianism.
These are the core beliefs of working class Latinos, many of whom are influenced by their roots in the rural areas of their ancestral countries. Whether you live in the Appalachians, the Jalisco Highlands, County Cork in Ireland or Sicily, country people often have share common traits – robust individualism, distrust of government and elites, conservative moral beliefs, love of community, and hatred of political correctness – that are like catnip to Republicans.
This was the worldview of millions of European Catholic immigrants of previous generations – Irish, Poles, Italians, Germans – who once reliably voted Democrat but whose descendants embraced Trump. This is the worldview of my dad, uncles, aunts, older Mexican born cousins and their millennials with businesses and young families. Traces of rancho libertarianism are still in my political veins, much to the dismay of my friends on the left.
Every GOP president dating back to Richard Nixon has known Rancho Libertarianism, even though they didn’t call it by that name.
This is why Nixon was set to offer the first amnesty for undocumented migrants before Watergate derailed these plans. This is why Reagan remains the only president to have ever granted such an amnesty. That’s why George W. Bush – whose brother Jeb married a Mexican immigrant – said family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande, a prospect that has helped him win nearly half of the Latin votes. -american in 2004,
So if Latinos have always been potential Republicans, why haven’t party leaders capitalized on rancho libertarianism? The standard response for a generation has been the Republicans in California.
Over the course of 12 years, from 1986 to 1998, they helped push through a series of xenophobic proposals – 63, 187, 209 and 227, which respectively made English the official language of California, brought life back to life. miserable for illegal immigrants, ended affirmative action. , and stopped bilingual education in public schools. It discouraged a significant portion of the Latino electorate and radicalized a generation. These Latinos, of course, made California a bluer place than Papa Smurf.
What happened in California for the GOP is often presented as an edifying account of the last gasps of a dying party. But that was a generation ago. Young Latinos don’t know this story, or don’t care because they already have their own – and have now followed in the footsteps of their fellow ethnic Catholics in assimilating and hating new immigrants to town. This is why Trump might trash caravans of Central American migrants trying to enter that country during his administration and not see his support among the Latino crater, but in fact to augment.
It reminds me of “What’s the Matter with Kansas”, Thomas Frank’s brilliant 2004 book on why his fellow Jayhawkers voted against their political interests by consistently siding with the GOP. In a 2022 election that is already shaping up to be a bloodbath in the ballot box for Democrats, seeing more Latinos become Republicans could spark an electoral earthquake that would forever change U.S. politics.
I hope that doesn’t happen, because I’d rather not see Latinos side with an anti-science, anti-reason party. Anti-logic, anti-women – and again, damn often, under giant taco salads and calls for personal, anti-Latino responsibility.