Democrats are losing Latino voters to the GOP -- and may be in trouble in 2024: columnist
Donald Trump during CNN debate (Photo: Screen capture via video)

Los Angeles Times columnist Gustavo Arellano penned an argument for Latinos not to be swayed by President Donald Trump's recent claim that he'll replace Vice President Mike Pence with a Hispanic running-mate.

Latino voters have had lackluster support for Democrats in the past elections, which they blame on the "very real disinformation campaigns on social media that paint President Biden as a communist at best and a child-eating reptilian at worst as swaying too many Latinos to leave their party."

The reality, Arellano explained, is that the demographic is more libertarian-leaning than is understood.

Rancho libertarianism is a philosophy previously held by many Catholic European immigrants like Irish, Italians, Germans and Poles. While they once were reliable social justice supporters, they had descendants who joined with Trump.

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"It’s the core beliefs of working-class Latinos, many influenced by their roots in the rural parts of their ancestral countries," wrote Arellano. "Whether you live in Appalachia, the highlands of Jalisco, County Cork in Ireland, or Sicily, country folk often share common traits — rugged individualism, distrust of government and elites, conservative moral beliefs, a love of community and a hatred of political correctness — that are like catnip for Republicans."

He noted that his father, uncles, aunts and Mexican-born older cousins all hold the worldview. He compared it to the voters referred to in "What's the Matter with Kansas," who vote against their own economic interest because they're persuaded by so-called "values" issues.

"In a 2022 election that’s already shaping up to be a ballot-box bloodbath for Democrats, seeing more Latinos go Republican could unleash an electoral earthquake that would change American politics forever," he explained.

He noted that "rancho libertarianism" is something previously understood by Republicans like Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and his brother Jeb.

"So if Latinos have always been potential Republicans, why hadn’t party leaders capitalized on rancho libertarianism? The standard answer for a generation has been California Republicans," said Arellano. Over the 1980s and 90s they passed racist and xenophobic laws that made it difficult for such voters to feel welcome in the GOP.

He closed by saying that he hopes the demographic doesn't become the next "What's the Matter with Kansas" voter, but, he warned it's possible.

Read the full column at the Los Angeles Times.