It's hard to believe that, for many Americans, Donald Trump didn't become real until his landslide victory in New Hampshire. For us Latinos, he was real from day one.
The media is going all out with its condemnations of Trump now, and I don't just mean progressive media. The GOP establishment has formed a MegaZord with liberal pundits to take him down. Remember when "leading Republican intellectuals" published that "manifesto" against him in the National Review?
But it won't work. It's too late now. The window of time for the media to nip Trump in the bud has come and gone, spent not on a legitimate effort to stop him, but on a honeymoon: Trump was the biggest driver of traffic in digital journalism. He was the most discussed topic on every TV news network. He was legitimized over and over again until media was so saturated with his face and with his campaign message that it became the norm.
So spare me the "Welcome to Trump's America" articles. If you're referring to an America where rich old white men stir up hate to win elections, then most of us were living in it before Trump. If you're referring to an America where unapologetic racists have found their mascot in Trump, well, the media shares the blame for that one.
In any case, we've been locked in this room with him for far too long. Even if his campaign were to collapse tomorrow, he has already made his impact.
While contemplating his ubiquity, I was reminded of a brief, beautiful time when he seemed stoppable: The day Univision dropped him for his hateful comments about Mexicans.
It was a great day in a great week. Marriage equality had just become the law of the land, and Trump, who was more a court jester back then, had received his just desserts.
"For maximum enjoyment of the past four days, be an LGBT Latino," I remember tweeting. The excitement was different from the one that followed President Obama's executive action on immigration in 2014. That was a tempered high, a "finally" mixed with a "meh." We knew it was a Band-Aid. We still had no permanent solution on immigration.
But Univision dumping Trump felt like a victory that was truly ours. The outrage from the Latino community after Trump's disparaging remarks can only be described as a fever pitch. High profile Latinos both in America and abroad called for action. Mexican news outlets didn't hide their disdain, and American news outlets with large Latino readerships marched in lockstep.
Then, un milagro: it worked. Or so we thought. Univision stood with us. They ended their contract with Trump, and for the first time, I felt it--this "Latino power" everyone is always talking about. We had united together and said ¡Ya Basta! Enough! We had been heard, and we had won, and the victory had come from us.
This was before Jorge Ramos was kicked out of a Trump press conference amid shouts of "Go back to Univision!" Before Latino protestors started getting beat up in front of Trump Tower and dragged out of rallies. Before Trump became what he is today: a seemingly unstoppable force who is not just surviving without our support, but thriving.
What Trump means to Latino people is not on the forefront of the media's mind anymore. When it was, he was a novelty item. Now that he's threatening to topple the establishment, he matters, and high-ranking Republicans are doing everything they can to keep him from the nomination and to protect their investments.
Maybe if the GOP had spent more time building trust with the Latino community they'd have cared from the jump that a potential nominee was alienating a significant Republican voting bloc. As it stands, though, it seems like they only got upset when a Pied Piper with a better tune started stealing their rats.
But back to Univision.
Maybe that day was a myth--the day where we thought, yes, if we unite, if we shout, if we flex our strength, we can make a change in this country. Maybe that day wasn't the day where everything we've been told turned out to be true--that we are a powerful, growing demographic. That no one can win without us.
Since that day, we have been continually demoralized. As our protestors are beaten and our very best journalists tossed out of Trump rallies like they don't matter at all, Trump has continued to rise on a platform that was built off our backs, off hatred against us. And progressive media, a supposed ally, isn't very interested in what we have to say about it anymore, our outrage a passing phase in the endless Trump news cycle.
Even before Trump, we had every reason to feel disenchanted. Raids against Central American families are happening under a Democratic president. Private prisons are making record profits off of bed quotas, off of detaining Latino refugees, many who are LGBT. Even our allies can't resist equating us with cheap labor, our humanity reduced down to our worth in the economy. We're still here in the margins of this democracy, even as the pundits say time and again, "You are powerful, you are a growing voting bloc, you matter."
But I submit that it's not too late for us to pull off another milagro. There's still plenty of time for us to score a victory, one that is ours, one that comes from us.
The GOP establishment is scared that Trump will drive a record number of Latino out to vote. I can think of no better way for Latinos to reject Trump than to make that Republican nightmare a reality. Register. Vote in record numbers.
Vote in record numbers. Send the message that we won't let this happen again. That if politicians want to make it in this country, they will have to respect us, they will have to keep their promises to us, they will have to actually sit down with us and tell us what they plan to do for us.
Resources are available through organizations like VotoLatino We should also urge our families and those in our local communities to, if possible, register to vote.
The GOP establishment won't acknowledge it. Progressives seem to have moved on from it. But we are still angry. Today, we have the opportunity to turn that anger into strength. We have the opportunity to make a change and transform the political landscape of this country.
I say we take it.
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General Election: Nov 3, 2020
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