The race for 2020 is on. The time to prioritize the Hispanic vote is now | Claudia Romo Edelman

Next year, Hispanic voters for the first time will be the largest minority group voting for a president and yet, we are often a last-minute addition to a campaign

Memo to presidential candidates: the time for Hola, amigo campaigns is over. If you want the Hispanic vote one of the largest up for grabs in 2020 make the Hispanic agenda among your top campaign priorities, starting now.

The stakes are big. Last years midterms attracted 29 million Hispanic votes, nearly 13% of all eligible voters, a new high, says Pew Research Center. And next year, eligible Hispanic voters should surpass 32 million, making them for the first time the largest racial or ethnic minority group voting for a president.

And yet, Hispanics are often a last-minute addition to a pre-existing campaign agenda. Many assume a barrio visit, or a few words of spoken Spanish, is all thats needed to win their vote. As a relatively new resident of the US (I am a Mexican humanitarian marketer who moved to this country five years ago after 25 years in Europe), its troubling to see how Hispanics, who contribute so much to America, are often an under- and misrepresented afterthought.

The good news: the Latinx community is unifying. Last year, We Are All Human, the New York not-for-profit I lead, met with more than 300 leaders of the US Hispanic community during our first Hispanic Leadership Summit at the United Nations. Over the course of the summit it became clear what were the key issues for Hispanic Americans. And if any presidential candidate is serious about appealing to the Latinx community then they need to be seen to be addressing their concerns.

The Hispanic community here will no longer be patronized; bilingual leaflets delivered a week before the election is not going to win the approval of a sophisticated and knowing electorate. You have to do more, and do it soon. And you have to speak directly to the concerns that are of most import to Hispanic Americans.

And the first of those issues is education. It is a critical area for the Latinx community. The statistics will tell you why a third of our community fails to complete high school, and our youngest rarely benefit from early childhood development. It is not good for America if Hispanics the countrys largest diverse minority never get the right start. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Donald Trump, Julin Castro and the rest of you need to champion apprenticeships, scholarships, vocational training and greater access to community colleges, so that Latinos and Hispanics are trained to be part of a 21st-century workforce.

Candidates can also play a key role in redefining how this country sees, and speaks about, Hispanics. Language matters; and this group of presidential candidates can make a meaningful contribution to our community by starting with the words they use. Speak of Hispanics as makers, not takers, successes not failures. Portray our influence on American life as a gift, not a threat.

Spell out intentionally and clearly that we are an incredible source of jobs, creativity, taxpayers, youth and values. The new Latino story should challenge the old stereotypes. Did you know that Latinos have been starting new businesses at the rate of 1m every five years?

But we need to do even more to build on that economic success story. Ninety-eight per cent of those businesses have revenues of less than $1m.

Presidential candidates need to appreciate the connection between job growth for all Americans and greater access to capital for Hispanics. In this decade annual Latino GDP now in excess of $2tn grew 70% faster than the countrys non-Latino GDP, says the Latino Donor Collaborative. To create even more jobs, Hispanics need more and simplified access to capital and resources to grow at scale.

Those are some of the big ideas and key policy areas that candidates need to get to grips with. And, if they really want to win the Hispanic vote, they might adhere to this small list of dos and donts:

We are doctors, CEOs, astronauts, academics, lawyers and entrepreneurs, and by 2020 nearly a quarter of the US economy will benefit from our contributions. See Hispanics as the new heart of Americas economy. We are more than those people who perform the jobs no one else wants. We have $1.7tn of annual purchasing power.

Hispanic values are American values. Last fall, We Are All Human polled 2,500 Hispanics as part of its first Hispanic Sentiment Study and found more than two-thirds said their values were shared by most Americans, values such as purpose, authenticity, passion and excellence.

Dont divide us; unite us. We want candidates who see Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Salvadorans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, Colombians, Hondurans, Ecuadorians and Peruvians as one. They will understand what unites Hispanics is an American desire for opportunity.

The race is on; dont delay. The Iowa caucus, which occurs next February, is the first contest of the presidential campaign. Iowas largest racial or ethnic minority is Hispanic. It will be followed the next day by New York, home to more than 19 million Hispanics. Then a week later its on to New Hampshire, where, again, Hispanics are the largest racial or ethnic population. In all, 10 US states have Hispanic populations of 1 million or more.

A 2020 presidential campaign thatdoes not include a Hispanic strategy today, doesnt have much of a strategy at all.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/21/2020-presidential-candidates-hispanic-vote-agenda

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