Originally published at National Review
Hispanics and the American Dream
A new initiative helps promote the ideals of liberty, hard work, and self-reliance.
By Rachel Campos-Duffy
The Obama economy has not been kind to Hispanics.
Hispanic unemployment remains in double digits. Since 2008, Hispanic family income has dropped by $2,500 and 2.5 million more Latinos have fallen into poverty. And yet, when polled, Hispanics remain optimistic about their future, with a full 76 percent saying they believe their children will do better than they. This is in stark contrast to the majority of Americans, who tell pollsters that they do not expect their children to fare better economically. While today most Americans are gloomy about the prospects for future generations, Hispanic Americans are still bullish on the American dream.
Hispanic optimism for the future isn’t just the stuff of dreamers (no pun intended). America’s most entrepreneurial demographic (Hispanics start businesses at twice the rate of the average American) intuitively and culturally understands that America doesn’t just need dreamers — it needs doers. Hispanics work hard and are willing to make tremendous sacrifices for the next generation. As Senator Marco Rubio puts it: “My father stood behind a bar in the back of the room all those years, so one day I could stand behind a podium in the front of a room.”
This enduring belief in the American dream and the virtues of hard work is especially remarkable when one takes into account the rigorous, concerted, and decades-long campaign waged by liberal politicians and progressive community organizers to lure Hispanics into a lifestyle of entitlements and government dependency. The Left has spent millions of dollars trying to convince Americans, especially minorities, that the American dream is dead or rigged to benefit only the rich and well connected. To address these perceived institutional barriers to success, they tell minorities that they need big government and redistributive programs that inevitably erode personal initiative.
But, despite the best efforts of those peddling racial grievances and “free stuff,” Hispanics remain stubbornly attracted to the ideas of economic liberty, self-reliance, and entrepreneurship. The notion of “making it in America” taps into deep-seated cultural pride for Latinos, who value the dignity that comes from work and earned success. And helping to foster these ideas is The LIBRE Initiative. Founded in 2011, it is the only conservative organization on the ground, in Hispanic neighborhoods, countering the efforts from the left by educating and empowering Hispanics to prosper on their own terms. Hispanics don’t want more programs to make them comfortable in their poverty. What Hispanics really want is more opportunity: the freedom to work, leave poverty behind, and rise into the ranks of the middle class and beyond.
This month, The LIBRE Initiative is launching the “Share the Dream” campaign, centered around four short, powerful video stories of real-life Hispanics who have achieved their American dream through hard work and sheer grit. My own family is a classic example. My dad, grew up poor in a copper-mining town in Arizona. The eleventh of 15 children, he learned to be resourceful and entrepreneurial at a young age, shining shoes at local bars and starting his own piñata business at the tender age of twelve. That work ethic helped him achieve a 32-year distinguished military career, a bachelor’s degree earned in night school while raising a family, and, eventually, a masters degree and a second career as a college instructor. Today, his four adult children all have post-graduate degrees, careers, and lives that have surpassed my father’s wildest dreams. All of this was accomplished in the span of two generations, and confirms my parents’ “only in America” motto.
These are compelling and emotional stories that LIBRE hopes will remind Hispanics and all Americans of the original reason so many families sacrificed so much to come here. Every American deserves a shot at the American dream. “Share the Dream” powerfully demonstrates that the dream is still alive, and Hispanics — with our incredible work ethic, drive, and resourcefulness — are poised to make ours come true.
— Rachel Campos-Duffy is an author, pundit, and mother of seven. She is a spokesperson for the LIBRE Initiative, an organization that promotes economic liberty, empowerment, and opportunity for Hispanics.