A PR Failure: The Republican Party’s refusal to defend Latinos
For years now, one of the Republican party’s main strategic goals has been to attract minority voters, especially Hispanics as they are the largest minority population in the country. Also–trying to rebrand away from the party of rich, old white men. The shellacking at the polls was too evident to be ignored, and Latinos voted overwhelmingly Democrat in 2012. I see no reason why those numbers should change anytime soon as long as Donald Trump remains the face of the party.
Donald Trump rhetoric has been going on now for over a month, since he launched his circus bid for president. Right out of the bat like a loose dog, he proclaimed the majority of immigrants from Mexico and Latin America are rapists, drug dealers and, in general, criminals.
It took the Republican party two weeks to formally rebuke him for those racist remarks—heck, the majority even called him brave and rallied around him for speaking out of the left field on immigration. His poll ratings went up (25% by most recent count), he drew large rallies, no one in the Republican camp said he went too far and it took two weeks for even their main presidential candidate to make a statement. He seems a legitimate candidate in the eyes of the Republican party. In essence–no one took an ash tone on him and instead used it as an opportunity to talk about immigration, hell bent on the false fantasy of deporting the entire estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants.
This Donald Trump circus was the perfect opportunity for the Republican party to step up to the plate and show Hispanic voters that it does care, and that their contribution to this country is of high value. Instead, they used it to remind their main base (rich, old white men scared of their racial decline) that they are still ‘talking tough’ on immigration. The Huffington Post’s demotion of anything Trump related to its entertainment section could not even slow the fireball coming out of Trump’s mouth, or bring the GOP members round to condemnation.
The circus continued last week, when Trump called into question Senator John McCain’s POW status, and the flurry of rebukes came within hours–not weeks–from most prominent members of the party, including Romney, Lindsey Graham and other notables. For most right wing commentators, it was finally the time to confirm that Donald Trump had gone too far. The fact of the matter is that Donald Trump had gone too far when he made those statements about Latin immigrants.
It seems very ironic to me. Here’s a party trying to rebrand its image and move beyond its traditional voting block to one more reflective of the America of today, and yet still not welcoming to those it seeks to attract. If the comments about McCain make him unfit for president, why don’t the comments about Hispanic immigrants make him equally unfit? Our veterans do deserve respect, so too the many Hispanics who have served this country and the many hardworking and upstanding in the general Hispanic population. But, aside from being cruel and absurd, it also seems a public relations debacle that the GOP chose to stand up for one white man and not an entire ethnic group.