President Trump’s decisive election victory in my home state of Florida offers an important lesson for Republicans nationwide: If we show voters that Republicans are the party of working-class Americans, a party that reaches out to people of all races and creeds, and a party that fights for equal opportunity for all we will win in future elections.
For years, Democrats and pollsters have wrongly predicted Democratic wins in the Sunshine State, including in my successful races for governor and the U.S. Senate on the Republican ticket.
The Democrats and pollsters forgot why people choose to live in Florida, which is now the third-most-populous state in America, after California and Texas.
People are moving to and staying in Florida because they want low taxes and small government. They want to escape socialism, to raise strong families and to send their kids to good schools. They want to work hard and be entrepreneurial, and they want to be able to forge a future for themselves and their families.
Just two days before the Nov. 3 election, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris stated that the goal of equity among Americans is not equal opportunity, but equal outcomes.
Too many Floridians are familiar with the language of equality of outcomes, and they know that it leaves everyone equally poor. They have heard the empty promises of the late communist leaders Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Fidel Castro of Cuba. And more importantly, Floridians have seen the violence and authoritarianism that too often follows those empty promises.
People — including many fleeing communism and socialism in Latin America and elsewhere — have moved to Florida because they don’t want to live under the economic policies that the left is increasingly embracing in this country.
But the growth in support for President Trump wasn’t limited to Latinos only. President Trump saw an 8-point increase among all non-White voters in Florida, according to exit polls, and made significant inroads in predominantly African American communities like West Park.
Republicans have built a multi-ethnic, working-class coalition of Florida voters who don’t like big government, don’t like socialism and just want the opportunity to live their lives in freedom and peace.
This doesn’t mean that all government is bad. It just means that government should live within its means and that essential services provided by government — like the national defense and important safety net programs — should be efficiently and effectively managed.
In my races for governor and the U.S. Senate, I didn’t treat Latino voters as an afterthought, an add-on, or an “outreach” group. Latinos were fundamental to all of my elections, and are fundamental to the emerging Republican coalition that leads the way in Florida.
President Trump had incredible success in Florida because his message resonated with this diverse coalition of voters who don’t neatly fit into the pundits’ and pollsters’ conception of the political world. And he worked to earn votes in my state — a necessity that Florida Democrats seemingly forgot about decades ago.
All this explains why the success of Florida Republicans, including the president, is a model for Republicans across the country.
The Democratic message is losing. They want you to believe that you’re a victim and the government is here to help.
Floridians are industrious and hardworking. We want to be able to pick the right school for our children, freely live out our faith, and forge our own destiny.
During the Republican National Convention, my friend Maximo Alvarez told his family’s powerful story of coming to America and how it was his parents’ dream that he — and only he — would decide the course of his life.
Democrats don’t want you to decide your own fate. Kamala Harris said it herself. They want equal outcomes rather than equal opportunity. This attitude, if put into practice, would certainly lead to equality. It would make everyone equally poor and it would put government — not individualism, not family, not faith — at the center of American life.
America is always at its strongest when the American people have the freedom, security and opportunity to make choices for themselves. The Democrats want to control your life; Republicans want to give you a life. That’s the fundamental difference dividing the two parties right now.