The key to en­gag­ing with His­pan­ics

Trump should fol­low the ex­am­ple of Rea­gan

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Hec­tor Bar­reto Hec­tor Bar­reto is chair­man of the Latino Coali­tion and for­mer U.S. Small Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tor.

Iwas re­minded this week of 1980, when my fa­ther — who was the founder of a na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion rep­re­sent­ing the in­ter­ests of His­panic busi­ness own­ers — got in­volved with the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in or­der to sup­port Ronald Rea­gan.

My dad had been told by his friends that be­cause he was His­panic he needed to sup­port the Demo­cratic can­di­date for pres­i­dent. But while he was, of course, proud of his Mex­i­can her­itage, my fa­ther did not make de­ci­sions based on his iden­tity as “His­panic.” First and fore­most, he iden­ti­fied as a busi­ness owner and he knew that his phi­los­o­phy for his busi­ness and com­mu­nity were more in line with Ronald Rea­gan: smaller govern­ment, free­dom, ef­fec­tive na­tional se­cu­rity, and per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity.

In­deed, my fa­ther’s phi­los­o­phy and Rea­gan’s were very much aligned. Once he was pres­i­dent, Rea­gan sought my fa­ther’s coun­cil both as an en­tre­pre­neur and as a His­panic leader. The two men didn’t al­ways agree, but they dis­cussed their dif­fer­ences and learned from one other.

Who will Don­ald Trump turn to in the His­panic com­mu­nity? Will Mr. Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion ac­tively en­gage with His­panic as­so­ci­a­tions and in­ter­est groups? If so, which ones, and to dis­cuss which is­sues? Thanks to some mem­o­rable flash points dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, there will be great in­ter­est in the answers to these questions and the Trump team will have to pro­ceed with as much cau­tion as en­thu­si­asm.

As they move for­ward in their en­gage­ment with the His­panic com­mu­nity, Mr. Trump and his ad­vis­ers should not be dis­tracted by the me­dia’s false nar­ra­tive that His­panic groups only care about im­mi­gra­tion. An open-minded look at the His­panic ad­vo­cacy com­mu­nity will in­stead re­veal these im­por­tant truths to the Trump team:

• Like our com­mu­nity as a whole, His­pan­ics are not mono­lithic in our views.

• Those of use who are au­then­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tives of our com­mu­nity do not place im­mi­gra­tion at the top of our pol­icy pri­or­i­ties be­cause it is not the No.

1 pri­or­ity of His­pan­ics.

The econ­omy, health care and ter­ror­ism­na­tional se­cu­rity con­sis­tently out­rank im­mi­gra­tion as is­sues of con­cern for Lati­nos.

• All ad­vo­cacy groups will claim to care about His­pan­ics’ eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity, but very few fo­cus on en­trepreneur­ship — in spite of the fact that it is uniquely strong in the His­panic com­mu­nity.

Ad­vo­cates claim­ing to rep­re­sent Lati­nos by fo­cus­ing solely on im­mi­gra­tion, or on the jobs that can be cre­ated by big busi­ness, are the false prophets of His­panic ad­vo­cacy. Our com­mu­nity is more in­ter­ested in self-start­ing, and in liv­ing their Amer­i­can dreams. Con­sider these facts:

• There are more than 4 mil­lion His­pan­i­cowned busi­nesses in Amer­ica, with more than $660 bil­lion in com­bined an­nual rev­enue.

• Latino en­trepreneurs are 1.5 times more likely to be­come busi­ness own­ers and those busi­nesses are grow­ing at 15 times the na­tional growth rate.

His­pan­ics know that own­ing your own busi­ness is the best way to achieve up­ward mo­bil­ity; this is the con­ver­sa­tion they will want to have with Pres­i­dent Trump.

Those Lati­nos like my fa­ther who voted for Ronald Rea­gan didn’t be­lieve the char­ac­ter­i­za­tions of his po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies: that Rea­gan was not qual­i­fied to be pres­i­dent, that he would be in­sen­si­tive to the lit­tle guy and would most likely start a third world war.

His­pan­ics who voted for Mr. Trump did so in spite of the same char­ac­ter­i­za­tions of our next pres­i­dent.

In both cases, the His­pan­ics who voted for the Repub­li­can can­di­date — in­stead of the Demo­cratic can­di­date, like they were “sup­posed” to do — voted their self-in­ter­est. They voted for the pos­si­bil­ity that we could grow our econ­omy again while also pro­tect­ing our na­tion from in­ter­na­tional threats.

In spite of his per­ceived mis­steps with the His­panic com­mu­nity dur­ing his cam­paign, Mr. Trump’s rel­a­tive success with this de­mo­graphic group (he earned about 30 per­cent of the His­panic vote — more than Mitt Rom­ney) is an in­di­ca­tion that his mes­sages on fight­ing ter­ror­ism, and on small-busi­ness is­sues like reg­u­la­tions and health care, may have bro­ken through. This is where Mr. Trump’s next con­ver­sa­tions with the His­panic com­mu­nity should be­gin.

Mr. Trump will do well to fol­low Rea­gan’s ex­am­ple: con­nect with His­panic lead­ers and or­ga­ni­za­tions that share his phi­los­o­phy about govern­ment, busi­ness and eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity.

His­pan­ics know that own­ing your own busi­ness is the best way to achieve up­ward mo­bil­ity; this is the con­ver­sa­tion they will want to have with Pres­i­dent Trump.

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