The dust has settled on the chaotic novella otherwise known as the Republican National Convention. There were among other things, allegations of plagiarism, refusal to endorse the Republican nominee and material to create an unlimited number of memes. Yet, there were also several issues of concern to Latinos one should not ignore. Here are five takeaways from the RNC for Latinos.
1. Positive Immigration Reform is in Peril
Donald Trump’s acceptance speech verified not just a tendency, but a direct willingness to buck what many consider to be the standard rules of political conventions. Conventions are supposed to be a time not only to energize the base, but also move towards a more centrist position as you pivot to a general election. Not today’s GOP. On immigration alone, they pushed forward on a xenophobic, criminalization-first platform that looks to shut the door on anyone coming from a country “compromised by terrorism.” In an era of reboots, it looks like the GOP is trying to dip into America’s toolbox of pre-1965 discriminatory policies like the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Immigration Act of 1924 and Japanese internment. What’s next? Laws that suppress the right to vote – wait, maybe what’s old is new after all?
Of course, the Donald and the platform are short on details and to what we already know about certain policies. What does “compromised by terrorism” mean? Don’t we have enough evidence on the dangers of mandatory minimums from our failed war on drugs? We know from places like the American Immigration Council that even undocumented immigrants add 11.8 billion in local and state taxes so why would we penalize a community that in places like Cleveland is jumpstarting local growth and job opportunities?
Then again, it’s hard to field those questions when you are always speaking in ALL CAPS.
2. White Mainstream’s Last Stand
A constant theme throughout the GOP convention was fear – fear of immigrants, fear of foreigners, fear of race, fear of protest movements like #BlackLivesMatter. With its constant chants of USA! USA! it was an affirmation of self-worth for many who fear that they will be on the short end of the stick of America’s demographic shift.
That fear is real and ironically based on some level of understanding of how America treats its minorities. Although some dismissively label the terms of (white) privilege and white supremacy as divisive, they also understand, on some level, the sense of power that one has when being of a particular shade. Or of not having to learn the cultural nuances of others because yours is the one that sets the standard. What if people of color start to treat the white mainstream as they have been treated over near 400 years of interaction on this continent. While plenty of people and facts say that dichotomy is unlikely, logic doesn’t make these fears any less real.
So Cleveland was in some ways a public call to keep America stuck in the past. It was the mainstream telling the rising majority ‘We like the way things were/are. We like embracing your culture, but not incorporating it for all. We like reaching for democratic and free market ideals, but limiting who gets to receive the benefits. We like deciding who gets to sit at – and wait on — the table. We love the idea of America – as long as we get to define America looking mostly like us.’