No one in America, including Donald Trump, believes that Donald Trump could be elected president of the United States. Trump's campaign is all about Trump teasing the media and the nation with his brand of brash, "no apologies" bluntness, and he's generating the media buzz that he so shamelessly savors.
The campaign began inauspiciously with a mean-spirited, anti-Mexicana tirade that lacked substance or truthfulness; it was designed to appeal to an angry Republican base that ironically has much more in common with the average Mexican worker than the egotistical New York billionaire. Trump clearly crossed the line when he referred to Mexican immigrants as carriers of disease and characterized them, in the same sentence as "rapists."
This campaign kick-off is exactly the sort of nightmare scenario that reminds centrist, prudent Republicans of 2008 and the (mild by comparison) Mitt Romney "47 percent" remark in which the Republican candidate basically asked donors to wash their hands of the nation's poor. That remark, surreptitiously recorded before a group of wealthy (mostly) white Floridians, represented the de facto end of his campaign because it confirmed, in the candidate's own words, the conventional wisdom that Romney would govern only on behalf of the wealthy elite.
The Republican establishment and all of the Republican candidates running for president should have immediately denounced "the Donald's" absurd comments, but they did not. In failing to forcefully confront his nonsensical statements, the Republican candidates only gave further credence to the belief that the Republican Party is the party of old white men that does not welcome minorities.
The business and entertainment communities are ahead of these timid politicians: Univision and NBC have already cut ties with Trump and many other companies that had sought Donald's endorsement now see his brand as seriously tarnished, and they want nothing to do with him. Macy's, the PGA, Serta (the mattress people) and NASCAR have terminated their affiliations or contracts with Trump. Why? They recognize that 18 percent of all Americans are of Hispanic descent, and Hispanics tend to rally around other Hispanics when vilified. Eighteen percent of 320 million represents a lot of people, people who buy mattresses, follow NASCAR, and watch the Spanish language television network, Univision.
The PGA, whose fans are 87% white and only 3% Hispanic, understood that its potential for growth is in a population that it likely to double in the next 40 years. Thus, although it had no real current economic risk in alienating Hispanics, the PGA's hope of developing a relationship with this growing demographic required action.
This lesson seems difficult for the GOP to grasp. In mostly gerrymandered House districts and in white dominated states, Republicans were successful in the last midterm election. But in national elections, playing to only the white male core of your party is not a recipe of success. They certainly should have figured it out after losing the White House in 2008 and 2012. In 2012, President Obama won reelection by 5 million votes despite winning only 40% of the white vote because he carried 93% of the African-American and 70% of Hispanic and Asian voters.
The Republican Party has a serious demographic problem. They can't win a national election without some support from minorities. If Trump's unchallenged message of disease-carrying, rapist Mexicans is their agenda for Hispanic outreach, 2016 is looking bleak.
The answer is simple: Trump, of course, will not be the GOP nominee, but someone will be. That someone needs to step up now and lead by not just distancing him/herself and the Republican Party from Trump and his remarks, but by challenging them as contrary to the core values of the party.
A person running for president, from either party, should tell the truth about Mexican immigrants to this country. The vast majority of immigrants are hardworking people who send money back to their native countries to support loved ones. Many undocumented immigrants labor in low wage jobs, employed by unscrupulous law-breaking contractors and businesses.
Jeb Bush, whose wife Columba is of Mexican descent, seems the logical choice to tell this story, to speak the truth about our long, not always illustrious history with our neighbors to the south. He supposedly has built his campaign around the idea that primary voters will forgive his stance on immigration because it shows principle, and that they will trust his overall conservative record. But his recent comment reacting to the Trump controversy, "you can love your Mexican-American wife and also believe that you need to control the border," is hardly the firm stance that Latino voters would like to see and will be unlikely to win him a profile in courage award.
To win the White House in 2016, the Republican nominee must make amends with Hispanics; supporting comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for undocumented folks--which 60 percent of all Americans back--is the logical first step.
Speaking truth about immigrants from Mexico should be easy, but the current and ever-growing crop of Republican presidential candidates seems incapable of looking past the primary and pointing out what is well-known and clearly evidenced: Immigrants--both documented and undocumented--contribute mightily to our society. They pay into Social Security, they open new businesses at a higher rate than non-immigrants, they enrich the cultural fabric of our nation, and they pay more in tax revenues than they take out in services. These are the facts, but regarding these simple truths, the Republican candidates are in a foggy labyrinth of denial.
And, when you're stuck in demographic denial and nonsense Trumps facts, you don't win national elections in America.