For many of us in the Hispanic community, the American dream represents a fighting chance to make something great of our lives. My father and mother both immigrated to the United States when they were twelve years old from Costa Rica and Honduras, respectively. They grew up in humble neighborhoods, where the values of faith, work, and family were paramount.
After arriving here with my grandparents almost fifty years ago, my parents worked hard throughout their entire lives to ensure that my older sister and I could live freely and without economic hardship as American citizens. Today, I find myself only one semester away from graduating from college and joining the workforce in Washington, D.C., as an economic analyst. My older sister graduated many years ago, and now continues to rise up the corporate ladder in the fashion industry in Los Angeles.
My story resembles those of many other Hispanic immigrants to the United States who have also retained the same values instilled in my parents in Latin America so long ago. One such story is that of Congresswoman-elect María Elvira Salazar.
To understand why Congresswoman-elect Salazar’s victory is so pertinent to the national conversation, we must first acknowledge broader developments in the political landscape. The 2020 elections were a resounding victory for Republicans in nearly all levels of government (minus the election for the executive branch). Republicans gained seats in the House, are poised to keep the Senate under their control, and have a majority in the Supreme Court. Most importantly, this year undoubtedly became the year of the Republican woman.
Aside from Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s historic nomination to the Supreme Court, a series of brave women won in election upsets that put many Congressional Democrats on edge for future electoral prospects. South Florida proved to be a solid example of the enormous demographic changes Americans are seeing in the Hispanic voting bloc. Miami Latinos swayed hard to the right, ensuring victories over the now-defeated Democratic incumbents Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. The most impressive of these victories was that of María Elvira Salazar, who, after a midterm loss just two years earlier, made a triumphant comeback that lurched Miami back to its rightful place as the beacon of American freedom in the South.
Like many close to me in my predominantly Hispanic community in urban New Jersey, María Elvira was born in Miami as the daughter of Cuban exiles. After spending the majority of her childhood in Puerto Rico, her parents moved her back to Miami at the age of sixteen.
According to the Congresswoman-elect herself, it was the values that her parents instilled in her upon escaping from the brutal and tyrannical Castro regime that guided her successful career in journalism. Her commitment to liberty, justice, and truth is clear as day in her journalistic endeavors. She possessed the bravery and resolve necessary to ask a series of scathing questions to Latin America’s most brutal dictators. Interviewees have included Augusto Pinochet of Chile, Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, and Fidel Castro, the same man who had taken the Cuba her parents were forced to flee. With intellectual prowess and a keen eye for detail, she became a trailblazer for children of Hispanic immigrants like myself who want to keep the American dream a reality.
It is vital that our governing institutions reflect the same people they are charged with representing. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (NY-21) is the leading voice in the Republican Party for a future GOP that is as diverse in thought and in demographics as those who are voting for it. Her efforts turned out to be an enormous success, and now Hispanic conservatives and libertarians like myself can enjoy the fact that there are congressmen and congresswomen like María Elvira who understand our struggles, culture, and values.
María Elvira understands this, as she has recognized on several occasions that she is part of the “new face” of the GOP. Aside from just Maria Elvira in FL-27, we have member-elects like Nicole Malliotakis in NY-11 (the daughter of Cuban and Greek immigrants as well as a true New Yorker) and Victoria Spartz in IN-5 (a Ukrainian immigrant who suffered under communist oppression in the former USSR) who also understand and believe in our values. I for one, am ecstatic about what María Elvira and her colleagues can bring to the table, and you should be too.
Joshua González has a B.A. in Economics and Public Policy and is President of the Austrian Economics Association.