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By Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Lieutenant Governor of Florida
This letter is in response to an open letter coordinated by the group People for the American Way, which can be found here.
Recently, there was a letter written to the Hispanic community, my community. The letter condemned the Republican Party, what it stands for, and played a dangerous game putting politics above our nation’s cultural values.
The letter was signed by Hollywood celebrities, and supported by a liberal group with a liberal agenda. As the highest-ranking Hispanic Republican in the state of Florida, to put it simply, I was offended. Here in Florida I have seen how conservative values empower Hispanic families to succeed.
It has been because of Republican policies for greater choice and accountability in education that more Hispanic children are receiving a better education. It’s because of Republican leadership that more minorities are pursuing higher education. And it’s because of Republican policies that more Hispanics trust our states’ economic climate and are taking the risk to open-up small businesses. Hispanic owned businesses are the fastest growing small businesses in Florida, 85% of which are owned by women.
As the son and grandson of refugees who came to America, I have seen this firsthand. When my family got to America, they knew that, if they worked hard, America would allow them to achieve the American Dream. It was not a guarantee, they had to earn it, but it was possible.
Liberal elites and Democratic Party elders want all Hispanics to fall-in to a monolithic liberal agenda. What they fail to understand is that the values and ideals of many Latino families are more in line with the ideals that the GOP promotes and defends. Ideals that are rooted in our Constitution, and our families, not in an agenda that seeks to grow government, limit freedom and stifle opportunity.
It is precisely because of those failed policies in other countries that for generations so many have decided to make America their home.
I have no reason to doubt that the signers of the letter love America. However, their ideological and political views do not give them a license to denigrate the views and beliefs held by others. I respect our ideological differences and encourage continued debate.
However I have seen firsthand how the policies of the Democratic Party have done more than anything else to crush the attainability of the American Dream. Policies like Dodd-Frank, which make it more difficult for businesses to get loans. Policies like Obamacare, which have changed the labor force and limited the job market, further strangling job productivity and growth. These are not policies that build an American Dream.
In Florida, we are proving conservative policies work. In Florida, we have created an environment where jobs can grow by cutting taxes and eliminating regulations to help small businesses prosper. In Florida, one million new jobs have been added since the recession, and Hispanic owned businesses are the fastest growing small businesses in Florida, 85% of which are owned by women.
As the first Hispanic Lieutenant Governor of Florida, it is frustrating to me that those who know how precious the American Dream is continue to allow themselves to be used by a Democratic Party that has no diversity in its presidential field, that has done nothing but talk down to, demean, and show intolerance to any individual who does not tow the party line, and a party that believes government should do everything in their power to control citizens’ lives.
As a Republican I do not agree with, nor do I defend every piece of rhetoric from every Republican candidate that runs for office. Nor should every Democrat be expected to defend every piece of rhetoric from a Democratic candidate.
However, as a Republican I know that myself and the overwhelming majority of the Republicans I have served or interacted with understand that Americans have different beliefs and they have the right to voice those beliefs. If we do not protect and embrace that, then I fear the United States of America could become a country like Cuba and Venezuela, with a government that meets peaceful disagreement with a brutal, if not fatal, silencing.
Disclaimer: We selected this Op-Ed to be published in our opinion section as a contribution to public debate. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of its author(s) and/or the organization(s) they represent and do not reflect the views or the editorial line of Univision Noticias.