Everyone knows Donald Trump thrives on attracting attention to himself. He is the name brand of his empire after all, and he knew what he was getting into when he characterized Mexicans as rapists, drug dealers and criminals. But surely neither he nor anyone else expected the public outcry from Latinos, on both sides of the border.
What’s more telling is the underlying response from corporate America and Republicans, which for years have sought Latinos with varying degrees of success. Now they stand to secure or lose completely the Latinos’ trust. For days, Trump has been trending on social media after Spanish-language giant Univision cut ties with him and many others followed, disassociating itself from the presidential contender who continues to defend his remarks.
I’ve been in awe with three things over the “Dump Trump” saga: I’ve watched in exasperation the lack of outcry from Latinos over similar immigrant-bashing as criminals, rapists, murders and “greasers,” who, some claim, only make their journey to the United States to take jobs, have babies and dry up public funding. My amazement is that Latinos are finally rallying meaningfully against Trump and people like him.
Second, private corporations have drooled over Latinos’ and immigrants’ multibillion-dollar buying power without really knowing how to get their dollars. This time, some of them like Macy’s showed solidarity throughout actions that are hitting Trump’s bottom line. These companies are hoping to gain Latinos’ loyalty and they may just have done so.
And third, Republicans’ longing for the Latino vote. GOP presidential candidates were slow in condemning Trump’s comments and the Republican Party has remained largely on the sidelines, which is not where it needs to be if it is serious about luring the Latino vote in 2016.
The GOP leadership has chosen not to offend “tea party” members, who may share Trump’s vision about immigrants. This is a pivotal moment for Latinos to take note about the seriousness of Republicans to embrace this voting bloc. Presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who’s married to a Mexican, energetically condemned Trump’s comments – but it took him a week to do it. Other White House hopefuls have largely shied away. And then there is Ted Cruz “saluting Donald Trump” during Sunday’s “Meet the Press.”
Latinos need to take note about who stands on the side of ignorance and bigotry and who’s embracing tolerance.
Elvia Díaz is editor of La Voz, a Spanish-language publication that is part of Republic Media. Reach her at 602-444-8606 or firstname.lastname@example.org.