Latinx leaders and voices have a strong message for Donald Trump’s cynical, rhetorical shift on immigration and Latinxs: Too little, too late.
In an NBC Latino op-ed, Northern Arizona University Professor Stephen A. Nuño said Trump’s taco-bowl-less meeting last weekend with a small group of Latinx Republicans glared over “the elephant in the room — the fact that racism is the DNA of his campaign for the presidency”:
Trump exploited and amped to a perverse level the GOP’s coddling with racism to win voters since the civil rights era.
Let’s remember that Trump dipped into the political waters several years ago by challenging the legitimacy of our first black president through the deplorable and grotesque “birther movement.” In June of 2015 he kicked off his presidential campaign by calling Mexicans rapists and holding firm on his promise to build a Great Wall along our southern border, which he trumpets in rallies all the time to wide cheers among his supporters.
Yet despite the sad fact that a racist campaign can still garner traction in the American political system, the fact is that Trump’s campaign is on life support because the particular tonic the GOP has been selling all these years is running out of potency at a national level.
So Latino Republicans can meet with Trump all they want, and they can twist themselves around to try to get around the candidate’s ugly and destructive rhetoric. But it won’t work.
Javier Palomarez, President and CEO of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said Trump’s attempted shifts after a year of vile anti-Latino and anti-immigrant rhetoric reeked of desperation:
“You know what, as I said a year ago right here on MSNBC, you can’t unring the bell with the Hispanic community. Donald Trump began his political career by denouncing and insulting Hispanics all over this country. This is a case of too little, too late. This is a very desperate candidate. And no speech is going to change that now.”
In a historic first last month — and a direct rebuke to his bigoted candidacy — the Chamber endorsed his rival Hillary Clinton for President. It was the group’s first-ever endorsement for a Presidential nominee.
The group decided to not remain neutral this election year because “these are extraordinary times.”
In response to Trump asking people of color what they have to lose by voting for him, respected Republican strategist and CNN commentator Ana Navarro had an answer that couldn’t have been any more clear:
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) August 23, 2016
Leading journalists from the Latinx world called the attempts from Trump and his Latinx apologists “absurd”:
— Enrique Acevedo (@Enrique_Acevedo) August 20, 2016
— JORGE RAMOS (@jorgeramosnews) August 21, 2016
So now it seems @realDonaldTrump wants to go back on his insults and proposals against immigrants. Too late; already lost the Latino vote
— JORGE RAMOS (@jorgeramosnews) August 21, 2016
And in a searing new column, Maribel Hastings says Trump “is who he is and how he is…arrogant, prejudiced, classist, sexist, and incapable of showing empathy for anyone about anything:”
At the last minute, like the second half of the ninth inning in a baseball game, Trump assembles a National Hispanic Advisory Council to put together strategies that would ‘allow’ Trump to attract the same Latino voters he has repeatedly insulted over the past year plus. Curiously, among the 23 people from 12 states that make up this group, there are people from Texas, a Republican stronghold, where it seems Trump is worried that Latinos may reject him. Two other states represented in Trump’s council are Florida and Colorado, where the Latino vote is crucial and does not favor the Republican candidate.
Following the council’s meeting, the headlines suggested that Donald Trump had softened his stance toward undocumented immigrants, despite his campaign’s insistence that Trump didn’t say anything that he has not said in the past. Trump’s campaign did contend that there are things that have yet “to be determined,” such as the “deportation force” that Trump had promised would remove 11 million undocumented immigrants from the country.
And just like those who think they are always right, Trump didn’t ask for forgiveness for anything.
Trump is who he is and how he is. He has already shown us what he is made of: he is arrogant, prejudiced, classist, sexist, and incapable of showing empathy for anyone about anything. He is an unscrupulous, erratic and dangerous individual who is unfit for the presidency, but is now just one step away from obtaining it.
Attempts to make him appear moderate, apologetic, or presidential do not matter, because the problem is not Trump’s tone. It is his essence.
As polls in battleground states look more and more bleak for the candidate — and the Latinx vote becoming more and more essential this election year — his campaign can continue spinning in desperation. But don’t count on Latinxs falling for it.