Please note the following column was translated from Spanish to English and is available for reprint as long as the author is given proper credit. This column is available online in Spanish here.
Whatever your view of same-sex marriage, a right finally recognized by the country’s highest court last Friday, the ruling highlighted the discomfort of a Republican party that has not kept pace with social and demographic changes that are occurring in our country at a rapid pace.
The ever-growing group of Republican presidential hopefuls split anew between the ultraconservatives who condemned the decision and even talked of constitutional amendments to allow the states to reverse the ruling, as was proposed by one candidate, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Meanwhile, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush continued his strategy of “losing” the primaries in order to “win” the general – up to this point taking moderate positions on certain issues that might hurt him in the primaries and caucuses in some states, but if he wins the nomination, will allow him to effectively compete in a general election. He tried to sit on the fence, reiterating his support for the traditional concept of marriage between a man and a woman, but adding that in a country as diverse as the United States, the views of others should be respected, even if they are not shared.
The Republican party is not only facing social and demographic changes in this country, but an internal generational and ideological battle. For example, according to the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of young Republicans support same-sex marriage.
But it wasn’t only the Supreme Court decision. In the past months and weeks several instances have demonstrated the Republicans’ internal and external struggle. After the murder of nine people in an African American church in Charleston, South Carolina, at the hands of a white man, there has been a renewed war over the Confederate flag that for some represents the symbol of the South in the Civil War, and for others remains a symbol of racism that some groups have used to promote hatred and violence against ethnic minorities (do not overlook the fact that the Confederate states wanted to maintain slavery and then opposed the struggle for civil rights, but I digress). It was not until the Republican state governor, Nikki Haley, called for the Confederate flag to be removed from the State Capitol, that some of the Republican candidates stepped forward to support the call.
And without a doubt, one of the clearest signs of the intolerance, prejudice, and resistance to demographic changes that reign in the Republican party have been the unfortunate statements of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, an attack that really was aimed at Latinos in general.
Even worse is the deafening silence from the other candidates for the Republican presidential nomination in response to Trump’s insults. What does Jeb Bush say, who is married to a naturalized Mexican immigrant? Or Marco Rubio, son of Cuban immigrants? Or Ted Cruz? I won’t even ask.
Trump’s spectacle has had consequences. Univision announced it will not air the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, whose franchise is owned by Trump. Hispanic figures in the entertainment world have condemned his statements, and a coalition of Latino organizations with the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) successfully encouraged NBC Universal, which owns Telemundo, to also break its ties with Trump.
But what happened with Trump is a symptom of a larger problem. Trump reflects the positions of the ultraconservative wing, whose stubbornness and prejudice the Republican party has permitted to define and control its agenda, as it did when it allowed them to block immigration reform, even though most Americans supported it. That wing is behaving like a bully that prevents the Grand Old Party from embracing social and demographic changes, and the complicity and silence of others are contributing to the party’s transition to a political relic.
Maribel Hastings is a Senior Advisor at America’s Voice.