Editor’s Note: This post was published last week on the HuffPost blog. Alvaro is a regular contributor to Latino Rebels and he gave us permission to publish his latest opinion piece here.
Dear Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
On March 5, 2014, during an interview with Tavis Smiley, I predicted that you would become the 45th President of the United States. This doesn’t mean that I endorse your campaign, primarily due to your centrist political position, neo-liberal agenda, deep Wall Street ties and hawkish foreign policy positions. For example, in your op-ed (Washington Post, September 4, 2014), you expressed fondness for the war criminal and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. This probably explains your disastrous handling of the 2009 Honduran coup d’état, where the democratically elected president, José Manuel Zelaya, was overthrown. If the U.S. believes in democracy in Latin America, why didn’t it cut diplomatic and military ties with the post-coup government?
Since you’ll most likely face reality-television star Donald Trump in the general election —unless the GOP “fires” him during the Republican National Convention— refer to my below advice to ensure victory against the more dangerous candidate.
Learn from Mistakes of Defeated GOP Candidates
Given that the defeated GOP candidates, such as former-Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Chris Christy, Sen. Marco Rubio and Dr. Ben Carson, were mostly cordial towards Trump and failed miserably, you should be relentless against Trump. While Trump appears to be a wounded candidate due to recent controversies related to women, he’s still a formidable candidate.
Apart from unleashing a relentless attack against Trump, be cognizant of his childish name-calling tactics. Some of his victims include “Low-energy Jeb Bush,” “Little Marco,” and “Lying Ted Cruz.” In the case of women, he’s had really nasty things to say. Negative labels often work in politics and elsewhere when they’re repeated and when some people perceived them to be true or when there’s some truth to them.
Since Trump doesn’t play fair, don’t play by his rules. Just ask “Little Marco.” Also, don’t try to make sense of his rhetoric or logic. He probably doesn’t believe many of the things that he says, since he often says outrageous things to simply rattle his opponents.
Develop an Effective Campaign Slogan
Part of Trump’s appeal centers on his ability to simplify his message to a loyal segment of the Republican base. This starts with an effective campaign slogan, like “Make America Great Again!” This represents a problematic slogan for Latinos, Blacks and Native Americans, since America hasn’t always been great to them in the past (and present). Yet, politically speaking, it serves its purpose. You can just copy a slogan from previous campaigns. For instance, during Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign, Reagan used “Make America Great Again” slogan in political buttons and posters. Trump isn’t the only one, however. In 2008, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama copied his effective “Yes We Can” slogan from the United Farm Workers’ “Sí se puede.”
Being more experienced and knowledgeable on domestic and foreign issues isn’t enough. You must also be able to connect and communicate succinctly with common people with a hopeful and inspirational message.
Counter Trump’s Message to America’s AWP Problem
Trump’s strength among Republicans is based on AWP or Angry White People. To appeal to this core group, Trump launched his campaign with his infamous attacks against Mexican immigrants, referring to them as “drug dealers,” “criminals” and “rapists.” Trump is no dummy. He’s playing into the fears of Angry White People whom are experiencing many of the same problems that racialized groups are all too familiar with: wage-stagnation, unemployment, offshore outsourcing of jobs, rise in drug addiction and unacceptable levels of premature deaths. Oh, I almost forgot: many Angry White People also have a pet peeve with the browning of America.
To counter Trump’s pseudo-populist message, you must fully embrace Sen. Bernie Sanders’ political platform to help explain why so many working-class and middle-class individuals are suffering under American capitalism. By the way, don’t forget to incorporate institutional racism. While you might have to take a pay-cut from your “huuuge” Wall Street speaking fees, you must do what’s morally right for the vast majority of people in this country.
Don’t Pander to Latinos
Since the “Viva Kennedy” presidential campaign of 1960, when then-Senator John F. Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon, Latinos have been loyal to the Democratic Party. This includes then-Senator Barack Obama’s presidential election of 2008 and re-election and 2012, where Latinos played a pivotal role in these campaigns. So what have we, as Latinos, received in return for our loyalty: residential segregation, poor public schools, lack of access to higher education, rampant cases of police abuse, high rates of youth unemployment and incarceration, etc. And, speaking of President Obama or the Deporter-in-Chief, let’s not forget that the Obama administration has deported over 2.5 million undocumented immigrants.
It’s not enough to speak Spanish during elections or have famous brown people speak on your behalf. Also, it’s not enough to denounce Obama’s inhumane deportation policy or Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric. It’s more about transforming the institutions and policies that perpetuate a profit-driven system at the expense of los de abajo / those on the bottom.
To conclude, if the aforementioned advice fails, to rattle Trump and watch him self-destruct, lie and tell him that you’re going to appoint Fox News anchor and former attorney Megyn Kelly to the Supreme Court.
Alvaro Huerta, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Urban & Regional Planning and Ethnic & Women’s Studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is the author of “Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Towards a Humanistic Paradigm,” published by San Diego State University Press (2013).