Despite what some may say, being a Republican and Latino are not incompatible in America. At my university, I often hear that being both is totally illogical. In fact, I have had debates with people that try to call me a ‘racist’ by the mere fact that I am a Republican.
Those who have called me racist for being a Republican in the era of Trump seem to have forgotten many things. The Republican Party not only stands out in history because it is the party that abolished slavery in 1865, but it is also the first political entity in the United States to grant women suffrage in 1870 at its annual convention.
It seems that many people forget who was the party that fought against the KKK, or the party who pushed for the “wet foot, dry foot policy” thus helping Cubans who were escaping from political persecution in their country.
Republicans were the ones who pushed for the best comprehensive immigration reform that this country ever had in 1986.
Yes, each and every one of these things were policies sparked by the Republican Party.
Love for our country is something that not only characterizes us as patriots, but as Americans – and what better way than to show a love for country than by defending it through our armed forces? Latinos have been a strong part of our military. Approximately 10,000 Hispanics fought during the Civil War, including 4,000 from the state of Texas. Philip Bazaar and John Ortega, both from the Union Navy, received two Medals of Honor of those awarded to Hispanics during the war. Thousands of Hispanics served in voluntary units during the Spanish-American War as well. After that conflict, Hispanics continued to serve with distinction in all branches of the army. A Mexico-American, Pvt. France Silva of the Marines, won a Medal of Honor during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 in China. As part of a contingent of Marines of the USS Newark, Silva assisted in defending the British delegation in Beijing until being relieved by the allied army.
Similarly, more than 200,000 Hispanics were mobilized for World War I, mostly Mexico-Americans, and were integrated into all branches of the army. An estimated 500,000 Hispanics served during World War II. General Douglas MacArthur called the Arizona National Guard’s 158th Infantry Regiment, which was composed mostly of Hispanic and Native American soldiers, “one of the best combat teams ever deployed for battle.” Hispanics were awarded Medals of Honor in numerous regiments during the war.
The contributions of Latinos to the US military continued in the armed conflicts of the second half of the twentieth century. Over 148,000 Hispanics served during the Korean War, receiving nine Medals of Honor. Approximately 80,000 Hispanics served in the United States Army during the 10 years in which the country was involved in the Vietnam War, with 13 Medals of Honor being awarded. Sgt. Roy P. Benavidez of the Special Forces, a Mexican-American, is one of the Hispanics with the most famous Medal of Honor of the Vietnam War. And all this without counting on the more than 250,000 American citizens of Puerto Rico who have been part of our armed forces.
However, it’s not just our history that makes being a Latino Republican a rational decision. We can also look at today.
After eight years under Obama, President Trump has brought a different look to the traditional policy that was carried in Washington, DC. for years. He’s not interested in becoming closer to Iran and Cuba while attacking our traditional allies. He also doesn’t want to reduce the budget of the Pentagon by $1 trillion.
In just nine months, President Trump and his administration has faced our enemies, promoted real reforms within NATO – both in terms of financing the organization and increasing the presence of this organization in Eastern Europe – and has managed to create 1.1 million jobs. These are campaign promises delivered. Taking all of this into account, one can understand why 29 percent of the Hispanic electorate voted for Donald Trump.
The Puerto Rican and Cuban vote was key for Trump to win in states like Florida, and the Hispanic vote took President Trump all the way to the White House. Despite Trump’s enemies within both political party’s spheres, the new president has not disappointed Latinos.
A great example of this is his passionate interest in strengthening our borders and supporting legislation that favors the presence of the “Dreamers” in the United States.
Knowing all this, I can confidently be both a proud Republican while retaining my love and pride for my Latino heritage. The values of fighting for individual liberties, a free market, and the belief that all citizens of this great nation are equal within the constitutional framework that governs us, are qualities that characterize and differentiate us from the rest.
These historical and empirical arguments give legitimacy to all those Latinos who wish to be Republicans. We believe in the principles and values of our party, and we recognize the social and economic potential of Republican policies. Most importantly, however, we know that the electoral power of the 55 million Latinos living in our nation is the future of our party. For this, I am and always will be a Latino-Republican.