Could The Anti-Trump Latino Vote Tip the Scales in the California Primary?
Bernie Sanders has broken with Obama’s legacy of record deportations, which could earn him the support of Latinos who have mobilized against Trump, says writer Gabriel San Roman
JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: With the California primary swiftly approaching, clashes continue to erupt at rallies for a presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. So how will the surging anti-Trump sentiment affect Tuesday’s Democratic primary, which is at a virtual tie, as the business mogul escalates his incendiary rhetoric against Latinos, his promise to build a wall across the southern U.S. border, and deport 11 million undocumented residents. He’s also attacked the judge overseeing the Trump University lawsuit as a, quote, “Mexican.”
DONALD TRUMP: Hater of Donald Trump. A hater. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel. The judge who happens to be, we believe, Mexican.
NOOR: Along with the thousands who have turned out to protest at Trump’s California events in recent days, a high-ranking Latino Republican National Committee official has resigned, and the PGA Tour has moved its Cadillac [goal] tournament from a Trump-owned course in Florida to Mexico.
TRUMP: PGA Tour moved the World Golf Championships from Miami, where they’re furious, to Mexico City. Not good. But that’s okay. Folks, it’s all going to be settled. You vote for Donald Trump as president, if I become your president, this stuff is all going to stop.
NOOR: Latinos make up nearly a quarter of eligible voters in California, but only 19 percent of likely voters. Some officials expect a record turnout. Will it boost Hillary Clinton, who has wrapped herself in Obama’s legacy and got the endorsement of a number of Latino elected officials in California, or boost Bernie Sanders, who has spoken out against Obama’s record deportations, carried out outreach to Latino youth, and needs a big win in California if he’s to have any chance in securing the Democratic nomination?
To discuss all this we talked to Gabriel San Ramon, a writer with OC Weekly. He began by discussing the impact of Trump’s inflammatory remarks, like calling Mexicans rapists, promising to seal the southern border, have had on Latinos.
GABRIEL SAN RAMON: In Latino politics I think that there is definitely a reactive tone, and that has to be accounted for. Because when there is a demagogue like Donald Trump that gets people mobilized, that gets people motivated, because his rhetoric is very divisive, his sloganeering is targeted towards our community, whether it’s, you know, what I saw in Anaheim on my way home from the rally where the convention center parking lot about three levels high was filled with Trump supporters chanting, in a very public echo, saying “Build the wall.” We know what that’s about.
NOOR: I asked why polls show Sanders leading among Latino voters, and why some even protested a Clinton event in Los Angeles on May 5. Ramon says it comes from a movement opposing record deportations under President Obama, which earned him the nickname Deporter-in-Chief.
SPEAKER: You’re not welcome here. You’re responsible for the death of Berta Caceres.
RAMON: Because it represented that, that I believe elevated political consciousness, where we’re not reacting to divisive rhetoric but seeing through and seeing policy for what it is. And you know, if Hillary Clinton wants to continue in the Deporter-in-Chief’s footsteps, that’s something that’s caused a definite form of activism from certain segments of Latino communities, where we did see youth, undocumented youth, protesting in the offices of not Republicans, but Democrats. And pushing for, pushing the agenda forward until there was these concessions for DACA and DAPA that were made from the president.
But definitely I think that there’s a segment of the Latino community that’s politically active and engaged that can see through the rhetoric, or the differentiation, that Clinton tries to present on issues of immigration when we can look to Obama, and what his record has been since he’s been elected in office. Most explicitly in her own case, in terms of being secretary of state, Honduras and the coup.
SPEAKER: You supported the [inaud.] in Honduras. You betrayed [inaud.] rights activists. You betrayed women’s rights activists in Honduras.
RAMON: So I think that that protest in East LA showed that in Los Angeles there is a segment of the activist community, a segment of the Latino community, that can articulate things like Latin American foreign policy with the coup in Honduras, and then also just the legacy of immigration.
HILLARY CLINTON: It was necessary. We did support some fencing where it was necessary. We did add border patrol agents.
RAMON: A lot of the fencing that is up along the Southwest is a result of initiatives born by Democrats, whether it was Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill Clinton, Operation Gatekeeper, which seemed too coincidentally timed with NAFTA, anticipating there would be an uptick in immigration. That definitely had an impact along the California border and parts of Arizona. And then we look at El Paso, where my family’s from, and you look at a Democratic congressman at the time, Silvestre Reyes, who wanted and whose legacy he wanted to leave fencing along the border, along El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico.
So when we do see fencing that’s already up, it is a product of Democrats. And of course, Republicans are more than happy to support.
NOOR: I also asked what will happen to the energy-mobilizing Latino voters for Sanders after his campaign.
RAMON: It depends on the campaign. It depends on the Sanders campaign. I think when, early on in the primaries, where Clinton regained her footing in southern states with the black vote being pivotal, I think we definitely can look at that and say, what can Sanders do and what can his campaign do to make those connections? Because similarly in the Latino establishment in the Democratic Party, the elected officials, especially here in California, in 2008 they all favored Hillary Clinton before the turn in the nomination when to Barack Obama. They were firmly in her camp. And that same sort of dynamic is playing out. But we do have some high-profile Latinos and Latinas who are championing Bernie Sanders, like Rosario Dawson. And even that’s a little bit of a generation divide, versus someone from the, you know, the ‘60s and organizing farm workers, like Dolores Huerta, still being firmly entrenched in the Clinton political machine.
So it’s definitely–I think we will see higher turnout, a higher turnout of votes, just based on the, now that Trump is firmly going to be the Republican nominee I think we’re going to see folks turn out even if there is an enthusiasm gap if the nomination tuns out to be, on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton. It’s just a question of how much his campaign reaches out to us, and what happens in the end. If he’s not the nominee, where does that energy go, and definitely how does it get diverted or redirected is a question not only for Latinos, but white folks who are invested in his campaign, black folks that are invested in his campaign, and other, other populations.
NOOR: For the Real News, this is Jaisal Noor.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.