Election night, 2020. A wave of Latino voters rejected progressive policies in favor of a staunchly America-first agenda. President Trump’s appeals for fiscal conservatism and hard-nosed immigration resonated from the Rio Grande to Little Havana. For decades, Cubans have thrown overwhelming support to Republican candidates. John F. Kennedy’s botched Bay of Pigs invasion, snippets of socialist ideology, and traditionalism uphold a conservative haven. However, this anomalous Republican tide now permeates America.
A grave distinction must be established when analyzing Latino American politics. The term ‘Latino’ fails to consider the vast spectrum of culture, traditions, and backgrounds molding political leanings. One trend is all but certain–the blossoming Latino population, once a dynamic Democratic voter base, may fortify Republicans’ stranglehold on American politics for decades.
Democrats salivate over the prospects of Puerto Rican statehood. Its bastion of liberal-leaning citizens provides a surefire path for power. This short-sided approach warrants no merit. A 60-vote threshold will impede substantive legislation from approval while accentuating existing animosity in Congress. Politicians must allure voters with policy, not weaponized rhetorical tactics. Statehood should never be a ploy for political gain; it guarantees decency for systematically neglected Americans.
Representative Nydia Velázquez (D), the first Puerto Rican Congresswoman in United States history, observes a shrewd strategy to bolster Democratic support among Boricuas. Her deep blue district provides for leeway in addressing fixtures of Puerto Rican neglect, as bills aimed to provide self-evident aid gain traction. The 4.2 million Puerto Ricans in the continental United States yearn for a party—Republican or Democrat—to unify behind a Puerto Rico-forward agenda. No longer will hollow promises for statehood suffice.
As the 2022 midterms loom, a harsh reality haunts Democratic strategists. Their party’s staples—equitable health care, criminal justice reform, and environmental protection—are bound to be rejected by an uncharacteristic number of Latinos. Democratic policies regularly fail to resonate with self-reliance and traditional family values. The time has arrived to cater to Puerto Rico’s long-suppressed necessities. A concerted effort to drive Puerto Ricans to the polls, supplemented by authentic action, can curb dwindling support. However, the precipitous slide might just be inevitable.
Conversely, Republicans possess a glaring opportunity to restructure their party’s trajectory. As extremism and corruption ravage Central America, Latin Americans grow weary of a polarized progressive party. Indeed, a faction stretching from Joe Manchin to Bernie Sanders struggles to coordinate a collective message that negates these assertions. Thus, the Republican party, fervently committed to the former president’s whims, can campaign as a collective. Conservatism no longer galvanizes the GOP; Trump loyalism does.
Latino leaders across the aisle are obliged to suture America’s soul with dignity. They must transcend petty partisanship to support the United States’ most rapidly growing population. Puerto Ricans should never confine themselves to a party—Democrats and Republicans must earn their vote by ensuring Medicaid parity, guaranteeing adequate hurricane responses, and investing in educational infrastructure. For the first time in centuries, Puerto Ricans may wield the political firepower required to reverse years of backlogged bureaucracy.