Mike Pence probably didn’t realize the wildfire he sparked when he tried to shut down Tim Kaine with that dismissive “Senator, you’ve whipped out that Mexican thing again” comment during last night’s Vice-Presidential debate.
His running mate, Donald Trump, has been on a relentless smear campaign against Latinos and immigrants since the day he descended the escalators of Trump Tower 15 months ago. Already an outspoken racist through his birther campaign, Trump added Mexicans as a target of his hatred when he launched his campaign.
Not even US citizens of Mexican descent have been spared, with Trump alleging that a distinguished US-born judge could not effectively do his job because of his heritage. It was a remark that even Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the House and Trump supporter, called “the textbook definition of a racist comment.”
In Donald Trump’s small mind, this has always been clear: If you’re Latino, if you’re Mexican, if you’re an immigrant, you’re not one of us. You are not a part of this nation. You may have been born here, but you are a stranger.
So when Pence tried to dismiss Kaine’s defense of Latinos and move past that “Mexican thing,” he was smugly trying to blow off that litany of hate. Big mistake. That line didn’t just rub Latinos the wrong way — it inspired them to say “enough is enough” and to own their patriotism after being denigrated and insulted for 15 months. The incredible #ThatMexicanThinghashtag was that result.
Frankly, we’ve had more than enough of being the targets of the GOP frontrunner — and, on November 8th, we will get our revenge.
I thought about my own family’s contributions to this nation. My mother has worked as a housekeeper for over 25 years. She picked cotton as a child and quit grade school in order to sell bread door-to-door and help her family. In her heart has always been the most American of ideals: If you work hard enough, if you never give up, the promise of America can be yours.
It’s a similar thread in hundreds and hundreds of other tweets from the hashtag, of parents who washed dishes and worked in fields so that their kids would have a chance to go to college and grasp the opportunities never available to them. Others talked about their families’ military service, and others about the financial contributions immigrants make to our nation (unlike Donald Trump).
This is America. And, this is the America that Donald Trump and Mike Pence are trying to erase.
For our parents, their American Dream is to see our dreams come true, and if you really think about it, their pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps mentality represents one of the most American of ideals. Donald Trump and Mike Pence seem to believe that America’s best days are behind us, but for our families, it will always be the opposite.