Dear Democrats: For Latinos in 2020, It's Still the Economy, Stupid | Opinion

President Donald Trump has staked his entire re-election strategy on his stewardship of our economy. With America in a serious economic downturn, Democrats must aggressively make their case for how we will create jobs and get America working again.

Such a strategy would pay dividends with Latinos a critical voting block in 2020. Approximately every 30 seconds, a young Latino in the United States reaches voting age. A record 32 million Latinos are projected to be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election, making them the largest share of minority voters for the first time.

This cycle, to quote an old pro, it's about the economy, stupid. Let's make sure the Latino community hears this, loudly and often from Democrats to win back the White House. With Latino unemployment numbers sky high, to reach these critical voters where they live, Democrats must communicate inclusive positive messages about getting our country healthy and back to work.

Latinos want to work and contribute to our country: that is why so many came to America in the first place. According to Pew Hispanic, three-quarters of Latinos (75 percent) say that most people can get ahead if they are willing to work hard, while 21 percent say hard work and determination are no guarantee of success. By comparison, fewer than six-in-ten (58 percent) of the general public say hard work can lead to success, and 40 percent say hard work is no guarantee of success.

This is especially true for immigrant workers who make up about 17 percent of the US civilian labor force. But they're an even bigger part of the workforce in many jobs that are key to fighting the virus and keeping the country afloat. One of four doctors in the U.S. are immigrants. Across the United States, 29 percent of all physicians are immigrants. In many rural communities, immigrant doctors are providing crucial medical care.

Despite the high number of Latinos and immigrants toiling in the front lines as essential workers, these communities are facing unprecedented levels of illness and unemployment in our country. Worse, immigrants working on the pandemic front lines have not been included in any of the stimulus bills passed by Congress. If Democrats want to reach these constituencies this cycle they need to speak to their pride in work, with solutions and policies that will help them get back on their feet.

The good news is Democrats have a pretty great record of getting people back to work:

During the Obama and Biden administration, the economy gained a net 11.6 million jobs, lowering the Latino unemployment to 7.7 from 12.5 percent. The Latino unemployment rate was high for the first part of the Obama and Biden administration because of the last Republican president's economic downturn. The average weekly earnings for all workers were up 4.2 percent after inflation. The number of people lacking health insurance dropped by 15 million.

At the end of the Obama-Biden administrations, Latinos were working and had health insurance. Today the Trump economy has left Latinos with 18.9 percent unemployment and in the midst of a pandemic, millions of Latinos cannot get tested for a disease that is decimating the Latino community.

Under the Trump administration, more than 65 percent of Hispanics have lost their jobs or suffered a significant reduction in their incomes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the bungled late response.

One-third of Latinos reported they have lost a significant amount of savings and retirement. 57 percent said they had to cancel or delay medical appointments. 43 percent said they expect to have trouble paying their rent. Two-thirds of Hispanics said they have had difficulty finding basic necessities, such as medicine, food, and household supplies.

Immigrants on the frontline of this pandemic are terrified of seeking basic health care or any meager economic help that may be available to them, in fear of risking deportation under the administration's draconian Public Charge rules. These immigrants represent the best of our country and exemplify the true meaning of hard work. Democrats must fight for them, for all of their contributions embracing them as Americans and value to our country.

These constituencies want to work, they want to participate in the democratic process, we just need to reach them with solutions to the problems they are facing today, to turn them out in November. During this pandemic I have been proud to see so many Latinos, working in essential jobs. That fills me with pride, if Democrats are smart this cycle, they will tap into this pride, this desire to help make America better.

Kristian Ramos is the founder and principal of Autonomy Strategies and a former spokesman for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.​​​​​