On Wednesday following election day, most Americans were waking up bleary-eyed from staying up too late watching returns, happy to say goodbye to the constant barrage of campaign ads, and either thrilled or dismayed with the results. 

I had the unique pleasure of spending a fair part of that day with a group of individuals who, according to many observers and pundits of both political persuasions, represent the tipping point demographic in this election; : women and immigrants.  When I walked into the classes of Bridges to College and Careers and reflected on the excitement of the past 24 hours, the students lit up, and many held up copies of the front pages of the morning’s papers.  They knew, as well as any pundit, that they were the new players in our nation’s political, economic and social landscape, and they were thrilled. 

Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks, in his post-election column noted that the Pew Research Group and others find that American immigrant groups:

“… have an awesome commitment to work. By most measures, members of these groups value industriousness more than whites.  Second, they are also tremendously appreciative of government. In survey after survey, they embrace the idea that some government programs can incite hard work, not undermine it; enhance opportunity, not crush it. Moreover, when they look at the things that undermine the work ethic and threaten their chances to succeed, it’s often not government. It’s a modern economy in which you can work more productively, but your wages still don’t rise. It’s a bloated financial sector that just sent the world into turmoil. It’s a university system that is indispensable but unaffordable. It’s chaotic neighborhoods that can’t be cured by withdrawing government programs.” 

The students I met on Wednesday certainly confirm Pew and Brooks’s analysis.  They all work, many support families, and yet they are squeezing in many hours a week to learn, study, and prepare to enter college and better careers.  They are dreamers, climbers, and doers, and will take advantage of anything that can help them move up the ladder better and faster. 

It’s a narrative that not only wins elections, but also wins personal, and economic victories. 

Jerry Rubin

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