Conservatives are bad at engaging minority voters. Everyone knows that, but very few people seem to have constructive ideas on how to fix the problem. Hispanic Heritage Month, which began yesterday, is a great time to start coming up with them.
Every year, September 15th-October 15th is set aside as Hispanic Heritage Month, a time when Latinos celebrate their heritage through festivities, community service, and educational events. In big cities, small towns, and on college campuses across the United States there are month-long celebration calendars filled with community events.
Before pitching a fit about why Hispanics, Blacks, and Asians get designated months, just stop, and don’t. Whether you agree with the idea of heritage months or not, they exist. It’s better to use reality to our advantage than whine about it. We aren’t complainers – that’s for liberals.
The first step for every conservative or Republican group should be to Google their local Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations. It’s almost guaranteed that there will be some kind of festival or block party where organizations can set up a table for little to no money. Sign up your organization. Show up. Hand out information and actually interact with your fellow Americans. If you have the time and resources, have literature in both English and Spanish. Do not use Google translate – respect the Spanish language enough to find a translator who knows what they are doing.
Before the pro-English crowd gets riled up, let me explain something: For many Latinos who speak English, Spanish was their first language. That means that for some, like my grandma, it’s easier for her to discuss political topics in her native tongue. She still speaks English fluently, but would vastly prefer reading and talking about some issues in Spanish. That’s reality – adapt to it and use it to advance your ideas. Again, whiners can go to the Democrats. If you’re so invested in people learning English, I suggest you start volunteering to teach English as a Second Language classes.
Of course, showing up is the easy part. Once you show up, don’t blow it! Too often I see well-intentioned conservatives show up at events attended predominantly by Latinos and then start spouting off about “shamnesty” or some other hot topic using insensitive terms. Just don’t. Instead, talk about topics like economic freedom. Did you know that Hispanics start businesses at three times the national average? That means they are just as affected by policies like the Affordable Care Act and discussing the basic principles of the conservative movement with them like actual, educated people will go much further.
Talking to younger Latinos? Mention the disproportionately high unemployment rate for Latino youths! The unemployment rate for Hispanics ages 16-24 is 18.1 percent. It’s even higher for teens, of which about 1 in 4 are looking for employment and can’t find it. Issues like taxes, healthcare, education, and employment affect everyone and right now under this liberal administration Latinos are being hit harder than most.
If you are particularly motivated and well-organized as a conservative group, reach out to your local Latino Community Center, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, or Latino-focused student groups at a nearby college and ask them to collaborate on an event. The event doesn’t even have to be political in nature – perhaps just volunteering together to give back to the community. Hold a town hall on political issues, host a self-defense class for young women, host a financial literacy seminar for Hispanic families, or maybe offer to teach citizenship classes. The possibilities are literally endless.
Hispanic Heritage Month is a great way to start walking the walk about voter engagement. If conservatives aren’t out earning every single vote, then we should concede 2014 and beyond right now because once any individual votes a particular way for multiple elections in a row, the ability to effectively persuade them away from what has become habit becomes increasingly difficult. We know that the principles of economic freedom and strong family values make the quality of living better for everyone – we just need to make sure everyone else knows that too.