For years, the political class and some in the media have convinced themselves that Latinos are a monolithic voting bloc. Both political parties have bought into this narrative.
One side takes the community for granted, the other thinks Latinos are a lost cause.
But not everyone is convinced, including many Latinos who have never voted, seldom voted or don’t know for whom to vote. They also include groups such as The LIBRE Initiative, which has long advocated for politicians to engage the Latino community with policy arguments and not party politics.
Recent polling and electoral results prove this assessment true.
One reason we are seeing this trend is that Latinos are feeling the brunt of inflation, high gasoline prices and stagnant wages. A recent poll found that inflation has surpassed COVID-19 as Latinos’ biggest worry.
This is a stark difference from just a few years ago when Latino unemployment was at a historic low. Latino entrepreneurship and Latino homeownership rates were booming. And many Latinos started to see significant gains in wages.
This wasn’t happening by accident.
Tax relief for most Americans, a reduced regulatory burden on job creators and domestic energy exploration all contributed to job creation and economic opportunity.
Of course, the pandemic brought much of this progress to a halt. But some of the economic slowdown was also a result of a change in economic policies in Washington.
Trillions of dollars in federal spending contributed to inflation levels not seen in four decades. Well-intentioned policies to deal with COVID incentivized some workers from re-entering the workforce.
Finally, unnecessarily long school closures forced many Americans — including Latino families — to find child care and the need to provide an education to children all the while trying to hold down a job.
Given this backdrop, it’s no surprise more and more Latinos are demanding a change in leadership.
Although some are trying to attribute this change of Latinos to a specific candidate, recent polling is showing that Latinos are continuing to express their support for several conservative and pro-freedom policies and candidates. But to keep their support, these same candidates and elected officials will have to deliver for the American people and the country’s growing Hispanic community.
They could start by drastically reducing federal spending, eliminating tax subsidies and credits for the well-connected and doing away with governing by regulations that are stifling innovation and prosperity. Policymakers committed to winning and maintaining support from the Hispanic community should also lead on health care. Instead of doubling down on failed one-size-fits-all policies, lawmakers should pass legislation that eliminates barriers between patients and their health care providers.
One place to start is by making permanent temporary telehealth measures enacted under COVID-19 that made it easier for patients to connect virtually with health care professionals. Recent studies found that Latinos were using telehealth services, particularly mental telehealth services, at a higher rate than the general population.
Beyond expanding telehealth, policymakers should make it easier for folks to save their tax-free dollars in the form of health saving accounts to pay for medical services. Finally, onerous health care regulations such as certificate of need and scope of practice contribute to health care staffing shortages and long wait times. Lawmakers should do away with these measures or limit their use.
The Latino community has never been a monolithic voting bloc. We know that this country remains a place of opportunity for anyone who wants to work and apply themselves.
Both political parties would do well in casting an aspirational, solutions-oriented and pro-freedom vision if they would like to win over the support of the growing Hispanic community.
Israel Ortega is national spokesman for The LIBRE Initiative.