Abraham Enriquez speaks with the clarity of a levelheaded TV anchor. The 25-year-old Latino from Lubbock, Texas, was the first in his family to be born in the United States, after his grandparents immigrated from Mexico in the 1980s and brought his then-2-year-old mother with them. He visits his family across the border at least once a year for service trips with his grandparents’ church. When we talked recently about the state of American politics, I recognized the air of authority I had heard in clips of his eponymous web show and his public speeches rallying Latinos in Texas to vote—for Donald Trump.
Enriquez is one of millions of Latinos casting a ballot for Trump this year. Nearly a third of Latinos routinely vote for Republicans in American elections, and the Trump campaign’s appeals to them show an understanding of their unique worldview, one rooted in deeply held beliefs about individualism, economic opportunity, and traditional social values. Across nationality, class, immigrant experience, and age, Trump-voting Latinos have one thing in common: a different vision from other Latinos of what it means to be American—and they believe their liberal counterparts and the broader public just don’t understand that.
“It all boils down to understanding that you are in charge of your own kind of predicament,” Enriquez told me. “America, we’re really at the crossroads of either self-governance or being dependent on the government—and Hispanics know very well which decision they need to be making.”
Liberals may accuse these Latinos of voting against their own interests, given Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic, attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and restrictions on immigration—all issues that affect millions of Latino lives. But many pro-Trump Latinos told me they simply define their interests differently than their more progressive cousins do. They don’t necessarily feel solidarity with Latinos as a whole, and many identify themselves as American first. (Some reject “Latino” or “Latinx” labels as well.) Many are lifelong Republicans not eager to abandon their party, and Trump’s economy-first message and opposition to abortion rights resonate with them. Democrats shouldn’t be surprised if Trump matches or improves on his 2016 showing among Latinos, or if their votes help him hold battleground states. Republican Latinos have always existed, and the Trump campaign has dedicated significant resources to winning over more of the Hispanic community this election cycle.
Election-year conversations tend to flatten voters into stereotypes, but there is no one kind of Latino voter: They aren’t all of Mexican or Cuban descent, nor are they all Catholic or connected by a shared immigrant experience—even though these subgroups dominate national attention. Though 60 to 70 percent vote for Democrats, according to the Pew Research Center, Latinos aren’t a reliably partisan voting bloc and need to be persuaded, in culturally competent ways, to vote. Their differences in national identity, immigrant background, experiences with discrimination, and religious beliefs make Latinos just as complicated as any other demographic group, though they aren’t always portrayed that way.
Take immigration, an issue commonly identified as the central Latino priority because many Americans assume that all Latinos hold the same pro-immigration view. The first time Enriquez heard Trump speak about politics was during the future president’s campaign-launch speech in 2015, when he said Mexico was “sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime.” Enriquez told me he could forgive the president’s comments. “I know exactly the status of Mexico, and how crime has completely just taken over the beautiful country that is Mexico. So when President Trump was talking about what Mexico is sending, I immediately knew—I understood [what he meant],” Enriquez said. “Did he word it correctly? No, but he did emphasize that, you know, it wasn’t all Mexicans.” (Enriquez told me that he first learned about Trump when he wrote a paper on The Art of the Deal in ninth grade.). Source The Atlantic