President Trump delivered a tour de force affirmation of American exceptionalism in his State of the Union address Tuesday night. He deservedly trumpeted the policies of the last three years that commenced a material American renaissance, particularly in the realm of our economy. And in both his topics and his invited guests for the speech, the president reached out directly to blacks and Hispanics. In doing so, he recognized that American exceptionalism cannot be truly realized until minority citizens share fully in the economic promise of America.
On this score of broadening prosperity, the president’s credentials are impeccable. Americans who have traditionally been our nation’s economic underdogs are now taking the lead in key metrics of economic advancement. According to a Washington Post report in September, an astounding 85% of the millions of new jobs created during the Trump boom went to minorities. And these jobs are paying better, too: Wage growth is accelerating for previously lagging groups, including blue-collar workers and minorities who have leapfrogged to the front of income gains. This newfound plenty helped Hispanics comprise two-thirds of all new homeowners last year, even though we represent just one-fifth of the U.S. population.
Minority communities are aware of what’s happening – and under whose leadership. A Gallup poll released this week reveals 49% approval from minorities for the president’s handling of the economy. This survey echoed a January Fox News poll that reported 52% economic approval for Trump among Hispanics.
Given this level of economic satisfaction, Trump astutely leveraged his State of the Union platform to speak largely to these communities of color. He highlighted the heroism of centenarian Tuskegee Airman Charles McGee, along with his great-grandson who hopes to one day join the newly created Space Force. Trump also put a human face on the school choice debate with guests Stephanie and Janiyah Davis, a black mother and daughter from Philadelphia seeking the opportunity of private education.
Similarly, the speech focused on Hispanic concerns by honoring Juan Guaido, the leading opposition figure to Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro. The U.S. government recognizes Guaido as the lawful leader of that beleaguered nation, ratifying the yearning of many Latinos in America for a free Venezuela. In addition, Trump celebrated the promotion of Raul Ortiz to deputy chief of the U.S. Border Patrol. Like other Hispanic citizens, Ortiz proudly and bravely serves America and undercuts the predominant progressive narrative that CBP and ICE are somehow anti-Hispanic agencies.
In fact, Trump reiterated his America First policies of toughness on border and illegal migration issues. Serious immigration enforcement does not, despite howls from the left, project prejudice. First, because America is not, by definition, a race. Citizenship here flows via birth and a legal naturalization process that is race-blind. Moreover, if anything, a tolerance for lax immigration controls itself represents an inherently racist policy, because porous borders disproportionately harm minority citizens in America. For decades, black Americans have faced unfair and unlawful competition in labor markets from illegal migrants. Hispanic American citizens often fall prey to dangerous illegal aliens that we fail to deport. On Tuesday night, one of the special guests was Jody Jones of Tulare County, Calif. His brother Rocky was gunned down by Gustavo Garcia, a career criminal from Mexico whom authorities had been unable to deport because of California’s “sanctuary” laws. During Gustavo’s December 2018 “reign of terror,” as local law enforcement termed it, several of the people he shot and robbed were Latino.
Our president, therefore, promoted a proven track record of success on kitchen-table issues important to black and brown Americans. He advocated for the new Republican Party as a workers’ movement producing concrete achievements for previously neglected citizens. With the Democrats’ impeachment gambit now complete, and the tide turning on economic sentiment among blacks and Hispanics, the time is ripe to finally realize the long-sought goal of an inclusive conservative movement in America.
Such a coalition would not only assure Trump’s reelection in November, but also more importantly achieve a badly needed social cohesion. Liberal insistence on identity politics paradigms pushed by professional victimhood advocates has hardly advanced the actual well-being of black and brown Americans. Instead it is, paradoxically, this leader whom the corporate media insists on smearing as a racist, who may well finally realize the goal of a truly integrated America, starting with more widely shared economic prosperity.
In both substance and optics, President Trump used the State of the Union speech to call on our country to fulfill the exhortation of his Inaugural Address:
A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions. It is time to remember that old wisdom that our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots … and we all salute the same great American flag.
Steve Cortes is a contributor to RealClearPolitics and national spokesman for the America First PAC. His Twitter handle is @CortesSteve.
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