Donald Trump’s candidacy was greeted by virtually everyone in the Republican mainstream with apoplectic hysteria. The main reason? Trump’s hardline stance on immigration, border security, and deportation was destined to doom Republican electoral hopes for a generation. With Trump at the top of the ticket, swing state down ballot Republicans would suffer, from statehouses to governors’ mansions to the House and Senate. Yet, the Latino backlash against Trump failed to materialize, evidencing the substantial power of GOP Latinos.
Virtually every prominent Latino figure in the United States expressed grave concerns about Trump and enthusiastically backed Hillary Clinton. Hollywood and Miami celebrities like Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Eva Longoria, and Salma Hayek took to social media networks, hosted massive concerts and fundraisers, and did everything in their power to suggest that Latinos would never back Trump because of his supposedly hateful and discriminatory comments towards Latinos.
— jlo (@JLo) November 9, 2016
Unfortunately for them, Trump did just fine with the Latino community, especially in Florida. The mainstream media and the political and cultural elites simply do not want to believe that there is a significant percentage of American Latinos inclined towards the Republican Party. But Trump’s comfortable victory in the electoral college demonstrates that, despite his hardline rhetoric, many in the Latino community were willing to look past immigration as the most salient issue. Indeed, a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that 62% of Latino Republicans and even 52% of Latino Democrats were open to voting for a candidate who did not share their position on immigration. That may well have been sufficient to swing the election to Trump.
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Fundamentally, the Democratic Party often takes the votes of minorities for granted. It’s something that African American leaders have often complained about. And this phenomenon seems to have reared its ugly head last week as well. Former DNC Director of Hispanic Engagement Alberto Morales recalls putting together a plan to drive Latino turnout in 10 states. He made a strong case for the plan, and asked for USD $3 million. He ended up getting a mere USD $300,000. Hillary Clinton curiously did not invest in Spanish language radio ads in Florida, which had served Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns so well.
The conventional wisdom always said that taking a hardline towards the Latino community was politically unwise, particularly given the Latino community’s demographic growth. Obama famously termed the Republicans immigration position “political suicide.” That simply did not prove to be the case. Another poll conducted by Pulse Opinion Research demonstrated that 51% of Latinos believe that existing immigration laws are not being enforced sufficiently. Yes, the poll was conducted by the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, so perhaps we should take it with a grain of salt. However, clearly the heavily Democratic Latino political leadership in the United States misread the tea leaves.
Setting aside immigration, it is clear that a combination of personal and political factors ended up working in Trump’s favor. Trump is a businessman. He is a celebrity. The mainstream media, while aghast at some of his policies, loved the billions of dollars that Trump brought in in advertising revenue. The Latino media was no different. Trump sucked up all the oxygen from his Republican primary competitors early on, and then kept things close despite a near-constant flurry of liberal media hatchet jobs.
The term “Latino” refers to a community that is far from monolithic. It includes people of African, European, indigenous, or even Jewish, Arab, or Asian origin. It includes diverse religious and cultural traditions. It includes first-generation Americans, families who have been in the country for generations, and people from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds. What this community demonstrated a week ago is that the immigration issue has limited appeal.
A message to the Democratic Party: You will not win elections by pandering to the Latino community, using the immigration issue as a sledgehammer.
The problem with the mainstream media and the Democratic party is that they have an incredibly biased and misinformed view of who Latinos are, and what Latinos want. If you go to the South Bronx or Los Angeles and base your opinion of Latinos on these subsectors of the population, you are not getting the full story.
There are many Latino libertarians, conservatives, and Republicans. They work hard; they have strong families; they have strong values; they pay their taxes; they study. The problem is that they are largely in the silent majority, not burning Donald Trump in effigy on a street corner, or smashing a Donald Trump piñata.
The day after the election I watched CNN En Español interview dozens of Latinos in South Florida. Many expressed their frustration and anger at the prospect of a Trump presidency. Many expressed concern about immigration, deportation, and “the Wall.” But there were also many, particularly Cubans, who supported Trump.
Many said, basically,
if you come to this country, do it legally. Build the wall, and take control of our border again. We need to be a nation that returns to the rule of law and enforces the laws we currently have on the books. Finally, we must rid our southern border of the scourge of murderous human and drug trafficking networks that have wreaked havoc across the Southwest.
It is fundamentally unfair to reward those who have broken the law with citizenship. Many Latinos were not dissuaded by Trump’s hardline on immigration because they came to the United States legally. Their path to citizenship was long and difficult, but well worth it. How must such people feel when they see illegal immigrants who pay a few thousand dollars to a human trafficking network, hop across the border, and then see the Democratic Party suggest that they should be rewarded with citizenship? That is an outrageous injustice, and fundamentally inimical to our tradition of rule of law.
The liberal media and many political leaders in the Democratic Party have equated amnesty with advocacy for the Latino community. They have scorned the concept of upholding our current immigration laws, in favor of selective politically motivated enforcement. They have been beating the drums for an Orwellian future where the term “illegal immigrant” should be banned in polite society.
Fortunately for Donald Trump, there were many Latinos in the United States who were able to see through the hypocrisy and dishonesty. They were able to see that if we do not uphold the rule of law, we degenerate into chaos and anarchy. If you don’t agree with America’s current immigration policy, then work through the political system to change the law. But Obama has gravely erred through his use of unconstitutional executive orders to ignore, interfere with, and override existing law. That is a hallmark of a dictatorship, not a democracy.