Latino Thursday: Let’s Play Presidential Hardball

Image by mediaite.com
Image by mediaite.com

As the Republican nomination circus rolls through cyberspace, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Yesterday, Donald Trump reposted a tweet with a variety of anti-Latino images featuring rival presidential candidate Jeb Bush posing with his Mexican-born wife and wearing a photo-shopped mariachi outfit. The retweet included the following caption, “ADIOS, JEB aka JOSÉ.”

I love the reference to “José,” the standard Mexican slur. That’s a good one, Mr. Trump. Very original.

Actually, the 2016 presidential race is starting to get interesting for Latinos.

Republicans continue to dismiss the fastest growing voter bloc in the country. To satisfy the Racist Right, new Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has already announced that comprehensive immigration reform will never see the light of day. The party doesn’t have the courage to refute Trump’s racist taunts. Same old you know what, different day.

On the other hand, Democrats remain strategically quiet on immigration reform. They appear supportive, but the support is lukewarm at best. None of the candidates for president has made reform a cornerstone of their campaigns. We might be subject to another election cycle when the latte liberal left takes Latinos for granted because the other side is so terrible for us.

There are some interesting developments that may put Latinos in the driver’s seat of the 2016 presidential race.

If the wacky base of the GOP comes to its senses and figures out that someone who has never served in public office would be a disaster for our country, the party’s best chance to win in November just may be a Latino, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. The Bush team calls him “the GOP Obama.” It was meant to be an insult, but that could be bad for Democrats. Remember, President Obama is undefeated in presidential elections.

Latinos are a large voting bloc in the states with a bunch of the Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency: California, Florida, Texas, Illinois, and New York. Experts believe that Republicans need to win at least 40% of the Latino vote for a chance to win. President George W. Bush has been the only Republican able to poll those kinds of numbers since Latinos have emerged as a key voting bloc.

Only 18% of Latino registered voters are Republican. That means all registered GOP Latino voters have to cast a vote for their party’s nominee and over 20% of registered Democrats and independents have to crossover for a Republican to win. If Republican Latinos vote against their party for any reason, the GOP has big problems.

However, if the bilingual Sen. Rubio gets the Republican nomination and moderates his stance on immigration reform, the Democrats could be in trouble. He could saturate the Spanish language airwaves in his own voice to woo Latino independents and some conservative Democrats. This could be enough to get to the elusive 40% the GOP needs to secure a home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

So what does this all mean? Latino voters have a shot to decide who will be the next President of the United States.

Let me explain.

Last week, a group of Latino GOP leaders made an ultimatum to the party. Stop disparaging the Latino community or else. The threat was directed to Mr. Trump, but it was clear that the demand could include others. Rosario Marin, the former Republican Treasurer of the United States, said, “Heed our warning, don’t expect us to come to your side during the general election…If you are not with us now, we will not be with you then.” These are tough words, indeed.

A Latino Republican rebellion could cause them to stay home on Election Day or vote Democrat. In both cases, the GOP has no chance to win. Of course, this probably won’t happen if the group of influential Latino Republican leaders gets its way or if Sen. Rubio is the nominee

If the GOP gets its act together and heeds Ms. Marin’s warning, things could get awfully close in the General Election next fall. In that case, Latino Democrats have to come out in big numbers for the Democratic nominee to prevail.

That brings us to the Democrats.

The Democratic Party historically has been favorable to Latino issues, but only as a sideshow. Let’s be honest, the party has taken the Latino vote for granted since the “Viva Kennedy” campaign in 1960. For more than a half century, we’ve been a loyal and automatic yes vote for the Democratic ticket.

President Obama’s 2008 campaign promise for comprehensive immigration reform took a back seat during his administration, yet Latinos voted for him overwhelmingly in 2012. Our community can’t let the Dems slide anymore. This time is different. The Democratic Party needs Latinos.

I tip my cap to former Treasurer Marin and her cohorts for having the courage to tell the GOP the way it’s going to be. If their party listens, it has a chance to win back the White House.

Latino Democratic leaders should take a cue from their Republican counterparts and let the party know that we no longer want to be relegated to the back seat. Comprehensive immigration reform is our issue. It crosses party lines. People need to safely come out of the shadows, families need to stay together. If the Democratic ticket won’t make this issue the centerpiece of its platform, Latinos should consider staying home next November.

Then, as we Latinos like to say, “Let’s see what happens.”

 

 

 

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Monday Meanderings: Donald Trump is the Voice of the Racist Right

Image by Red-carpet.de
Image by Red-carpet.de

I’m taking a page from the Trump playbook. I won’t be politically correct and give in to the PC police. I’ll just tell it like it is. Donald Trump is the voice for the Racist Right in America.

He’s a smart guy. The average person isn’t worth $10 billion. It takes some brainpower to make that happen. So what gives? He really wants to be President of the United States. Who knows what was behind his initial motive for running for the highest office in the land. Now, he thinks he can win.

Trump has sustained his standing in the Republican polls despite comments that are seemingly at odds with conservative icons. At a family conference, he said that he didn’t need God’s forgiveness for his sins. He called war hero Senator John McCain a loser for getting captured in Vietnam and belittled conservative news celebrity Megyn Kelly at the Fox News debate. Not one of these incidents resulted in a slide in his support.

Shrug off God, Mr. Trump. That’s okay according to the religious evangelists on the right. Proclaim that John McCain isn’t a war hero. No problem, say some veterans. Insult the star of a conservative news show. Wagging their fingers, the PC police scold women for being too sensitive.

That’s where the racist thing comes in. Trump revived the racially divisive term “Silent Majority” in a speech at a rally last month in Arizona. That term is not without historical significance. To exploit the civil unrest of 1960s urban America, Richard M. Nixon coined “Silent Majority” to rally the racist Deep South to support his election. Angry and frustrated by civil rights gains, southern voters swept Nixon into the White House in the 1968.

Trump is trying to bring that racist anger and frustration back as a political strategy. He hopes to replicate the Nixon landslide. The thrust of his message is “make America great again.” For the Silent Majority types, this means going back to the days when Blacks knew their place and Mexicans stayed in Mexico. That explains why conservatives give Trump a pass on trivializing Republican stalwarts like God, Senator McCain, and Megyn Kelly.

When he outlined his immigration proposal, Trump solidified his support in Racist America. The lynchpin to his plan is to abolish the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Supreme Court has cited the amendment to rid our nation of the evils of racial segregation, ensure voting rights to all Americans, and guarantee equal treatment under the law for everyone. Repealing those values has always been the goal of the Racist Right.

Trump wants to take away the birthright of American-born citizens guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. He believes that their parents don’t belong here, so those born in the U.S. don’t have the right to be American citizens. There’s plenty of legal and constitutional precedent that demonstrates that Trump might be drinking too much Southern Comfort. That doesn’t matter though. He just wants to rally the Racist Right to go to the polls and vote for him. It worked for Nixon.

Fortunately, the group of Americans who want to return to a nation that provided equal treatment for just a few white folks is shrinking. These people scream at the tops of their lungs that they want to “take America back.” During a Trump rally in Alabama last weekend, his supporters heard shouts of “white power” coming from the crowd. The Silent Majority is really the vocal minority. They now have a self-proclaimed champion in Donald Trump.

While his poll numbers continue to hold steady with those who yearn for an America of yesteryear, we’ve come a long way since 1968. The rest of the country has moved on. Poll after poll shows that a vast majority of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers. We are part of a reasonable majority that sees the true greatness of America, not in the past, but just on horizon.

Despite the belief shared by most Americans that our nation is better off with cultural diversity, Trump will continue his assault on immigrants, especially those from south of the Rio Grande. With each promise to build the Trump Wall to keep Mexicans out and every proclamation that all undocumented immigrants and their American-born children “have to go,” the vocal minority will cheer with enthusiasm and hope for the return to the racist America they loved.

The Trumpnado, as his followers call his campaign, will soon pass. Sadly, it will leave a trail of destruction and bitterness in its wake. When the winds of primary season calm down, Americans will go the voting booth and elect a president who will govern from the center. For 225 years, Americans have always found a way to elect thoughtful leaders that have kept us on the road to equality and justice.

After Election Day 2016, I’m confident that we’ll continue on our journey to make the United States the “more perfect union” that our Founding Fathers envisioned. I believe in America and I have faith in God that He will lead us down the right path.

Latino Thursday: The Border Crisis, Here We Go Again

Children sleeping in a detention center at the border (photo courtesy of latino.foxnews.com)
Children sleeping in a detention center at the border
(photo courtesy of latino.foxnews.com)

In 2008, President George W. Bush signed a law requiring that unaccompanied immigrant children from Mexico and Canada be screened within 48 hours and sent back home. The law goes on to state that children from countries that don’t border the U.S. must be turned over to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and go through a time-consuming immigration hearing process.

Over 50,000 children from Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Honduras have crossed several international borders to arrive in the U.S. without their parents. According to the law, U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) officials have handed the kids off to the HHS. The sheer number of children has overwhelmed HHS and immigration hearing officers. In the meantime, the kids are here.

Some people want to kick them out of the country immediately. Others want our government to welcome them with open arms. Congress wants to change the law to require these kids to be treated like Mexicans, a 48-hour screening and back to where they came from. President Obama wants more money to secure the borders and care for the children while the HHS processes them.

What a mess!

However this thing turns out, as a nation that wants to continue making progress on our journey to true democracy and freedom, we need to look at the impact of this border crisis from three perspectives: (1) The Humanitarian Crisis, (2) The Public Policy Crisis, and (3) The “Here We Go Again” Crisis.

The Humanitarian Crisis

It’s been all over the news. Children stuck at the border are sleeping in warehouses and prison-like military facilities, and eating less than nutritious meals. The HHS has attempted to provide more humane accommodations and healthier food. This has proven to be challenging as some local communities have expressed their disgusting desire to not welcome the youngsters.

In Murrieta, California, protesters turned them back by blocking federal buses, spitting at them, and spewing racist diatribes. We have to stop paying attention to these heartless people and take care of the children while the mucky-mucks in Washington try to figure it all out. That sounds humane to me.

The Public Policy Crisis

This is a tough one. Take away the political fringes of militarizing the border or opening it up to all comers, and the public policy answer is somewhere in the middle. Comprehensive Immigration Reform is the only way to get that done. If it’s up to our Tea Party conservative friends in Congress, that’s not going to happen in our lifetime.

Resolving the immediate issue is a challenge too. The President and cooler heads in The Capitol want to address the humanitarian issue before doing anything else. Others, including Latino Democrat Congressman Henry Cuellar from Texas, say that we need to change the law to stem the tide from Central America first.

I don’t know the correct answers to these questions. For the sake of those scared and lonely children, I can only pray and hope that our leaders do something soon.

The “Here We Go Again” Crisis

Every time it gets dicey on the border or in poor Latino neighborhoods, the Latino community is painted with one wide degrading brush.  Read my  June 19th blog post to see how this phenomenon started: https://esereport.com/2014/06/19/new-feature-latino-thursdays/.

As images of kids gathering at the border fill the 24-hour news cycles, the anti-Latino crowd starts singing the same old song about drug smugglers, gangsters, and disease-carrying vermin that come along for the ride.

I saw Congresswoman Michelle Bachman and Congressman Rich Nugent on CNN express their “fear that gang members are invading our country” when discussing the current crisis. Here we go again! What a shame.

From Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to newly appointed U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro to a kid sleeping on a cot in some warehouse tonight, Latinos exemplify what it means to be American.

Can the fear mongers just cut it out already? Negative stereotyping doesn’t do anything to help the kids at the border, nor does it do anything to help America. As my dad used to say, “first things first.” Let’s take care of the children.

NEW FEATURE: Speaking Engagements

Speaking to a group of community leaders
Speaking to a group of community leaders

I’ve written about failing at my first try at college and suffering a health crisis that nearly took my life 25 years later. Both episodes resulted in life-changing transformations. I eventually earned a degree and had a dynamic career in executive management and public service, and after that awful summer in the hospital, I got the gift of time to reflect on my experiences. In the reflection process, I found purpose in life.

Growing up in a working-class family, coaching basketball at my high school alma mater, serving as board president of a large school district, working as a vice president of a major U.S. company, and serving as senior staff to public officials have provided me with a treasure trove of stories and anecdotes. These stories are my inspiration for writing East Side Eddie Report.com.

Along the way, I’ve learned a few life lessons about failure, despair, hope and the power of perseverance. The purpose behind creating East Side Eddie Report.com and writing Summer in the Waiting Room is to share these stories to inspire others to achieve their dreams and aspirations. With that in mind, I’m now available as a motivational speaker at conferences, corporate meetings, school activities, and community events.

For my talks, I draw from a broad set of experiences to engage audiences with inspiring, amusing, and colorful stories. My signature keynote address is called, “From Working-Class Family to Corporate Executive, Life in the ICU, and Beyond.”  In this speech, I share the inspiring story of persevering through failure, a life-threatening illness, and hopelessness to find success and redemption.  I’ve also developed a series of talks on the following topics:

  • How to Navigate the Executive Office and Achieve Success in the Corporate World
  • Creating Educational Equity to Provide Leadership for Diverse School Systems
  • Organizing and Empowering People for the Good of the Community
  • Be Your Own Advocate: Managing Personal Healthcare in the 21st Century

In addition to being an engaging keynote speaker for any breakfast, luncheon, dinner, or fundraising event, I’m available for presentations as a panelist, seminar presenter, or moderator specializing in corporate, non-profit, and education conferences.  My areas of expertise include:

  • Education Policy and Leadership
  • Executive Leadership
  • Healthcare from a Patient Perspective
  •  Coaching Athletics
  • Organizational Development

Speaking fees are reasonable and negotiable in order fit any budget.  I’m also available to speak to middle and high school students at no cost.

To learn more about speaking services and to schedule a speaking engagement for your next event or conference, click on the “Speaking Engagement” tab at the top of the East Side Eddie Report.com page, e-mail eddie.m.garcia@comcast.net, or call 408-426-7698.