'We are all Americans'
It is - or can be - a four-way win for America. What? The political sequence in which President Reagan played a part last week with his outreach to Hispanic-American voters often neglected by both parties. Here is the way it works:
1. Minority voters - such as black voters in Chicago's mayoral election - make growing use of the vote that they have fought so hard for.
2. Politicians - such as Democrats trying to get out the Hispanic vote and Mr. Reagan trying to win it - pay growing attention to an activated minority.
3. The majority public hears more about the minority's needs as the politicians try to address them.
4. Somewhere down the road the combination of political and public awareness pays off for everybody. It leads to reduced discrimination, increased equality of opportunity, and thus benefits both for members of the minority and an American society more fully utilizing the talents and energies of all its citizens.
This is an ideal outline, to be sure. But you have to aim at the ideal in order to get half-way there.
A distortion of the same outline would be a political stew of politicians pandering to narrowly defined minority interests, promising them anything but giving them only words.
Some Democrats immediately leaped on Mr. Reagan in this vein, citing disparities between ''anti-Hispanic'' administration policies and the recent pro-Hispanic speeches to Hispanic groups. They noted that, even as he courted Hispanic voters in Texas, he was vetoing congressionally authorized funds for a Chicago school desegregation plan involving primarily black and Hispanic students.
But some of Mr. Reagan's policies are already pleasing some Hispanic voters, who, after all, are not a monolithic political bloc. Many Cuban-Americans, for example, respond favorably to his strong anti-Castro stand. He appears to have less support among Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans. But they do not have a great deal to be grateful to Democrats for, either. If Reagan policies from now on should match his warmth toward Hispanics in general lately, the Democrats cannot take Hispanic votes for granted.
Already the President has moderated his administration's image of opposition to bilingual education, which, of course, affects many Americans in addition to Hispanics. The process began earlier when the Department of Education turned back from proposals undercutting bilingual education. Recently Vice-President Bush spoke out ringingly for the President's and his commitment to bilingual education. And over the weekend Mr. Reagan himself said he was moving on better opportunity for schoolchildren, ''including effective bilingual programs.''
The word ''effective'' should be noted here. Mr. Reagan is obviously not supporting those deplorable ''bilingual'' programs that leave children behind in English. An effective bilingual program is not a monolingual program in a language other than English. It is a program that enables a child with a language other than English to move as quickly as possible into the English-speaking mainstream.
But even more important than the President's gestures toward removing the roadblocks to opportunity for minorities may be the long-range challenge he in effect gave the United States and himself. It was to convince Hispanics, and by implication any other minority, that they can make larger economic gains if they are not approached as a special group but are enabled to join in full participation with other members of American society.
Indeed, what he called his ''vision'' went beyond US borders to look for unity from Tierra del Fuego to the North Slopes of Alaska. ''We are all Americans,'' he declared. A sense of such common humanity would add a fifth point to the four-way win mentioned at the beginning.