In his newest column for HuffPost, Juan Escalante dives into the Democratic party’s failure to truly understand and mobilize Latino voters.
According to Escalante, Democrats will continue to run around in circles until they “enshrine issues like immigration reform into the core of their ‘progressive’ values and learn how to talk ― honestly and truthfully ― about the complex issues affecting Latinos.”
Escalante’s column is excerpted below and available online here.
Many Democrats are lying awake at night fretting over the possibility of losing critical midterm races due to depressed Latino turnout. Interchangeable headlines declaring “Democrats have a Latino problem” recently appeared in outlets including New York Magazine, CNN and The Washington Post.
… As it stands, Democrats have done a good job distancing themselves from much of the racist and xenophobic rhetoric that Donald Trump has been using ever since he launched his presidential campaign in 2015. There are tweets condemning Trump’s cruel family separation policy, videos of visits to immigration detention centers, and pledges to defend core values that are important to Latino families residing in the United States.
But as Democrats continue to define what they are for and against in the Trump era, they fail to adequately address the issues that really matter to us.
… Democrats seeking the Latino vote have big hurdles to jump. They haven’t yet figured out this country is made up of millions of immigrants who work hard, who contribute to the U.S. economy, who aren’t going anywhere, and who ― in many cases ― will eventually become eligible voters. Serious conversations about issues that impact Latinos (particularly immigrant families currently being threatened with all manner of policies and threats under the Trump administration) are often scarce or modeled after a handpicked set of issues, like education and immigration, as if those are the only issues we care about.
Until Democrats learn to speak to Latinos in a way that doesn’t pigeonhole us as a homogeneous group, they risk falling into the same trap as they have in previous years. Soft promises on legislation, Spanish language one-liners, and a few Latino surrogates simply won’t be enough to convince Latino voters to show up again for Democrats. As Ed Kilgore at New York Magazine put it, not even the “specter” of Trump was enough to scare Latinos into mobilizing during the 2016 election.
… The failures of the Democratic Party (and those who cater to its candidates every election cycle) when it comes to Latino voters rest in its lack of forward-facing vision. Until Democrats enshrine issues like immigration reform into the core of their “progressive” values and learn how to talk ― honestly and truthfully ― about the complex issues affecting Latinos, I fear the party will continue to be disappointed by our civic participation.