Adios to Trump, the Pendejo-in-Chief
Our long national nightmare is over – well, ya mero. And ya era tiempo.
And Latinos played a positive role in putting an end to a presidency that inflamed hatred of immigrants, kindled racist attitudes toward people of color, ignored science to a degree that a virulent killer, COVID-19, ravaged the country because of the president’s neglect and ineptitude.
Donald J. Trump was soundly defeated at the ballot box. Fair and square. And where are we at the moment? We’re in a place that could easily have been predicted given Trumps wild assertions made at his rallies – rallies, which put many people in danger of contracting the deadly virus. (I call it the cabronavirus.) Remember what he said over and over again at those Leni Riefenstahl-reminiscent rallies. “If I lose, it’s because of fraud, it’s because the election was rigged.”
So, his refusal to concede was predictable, but it is still outrageous and dangerous. And during the presidential campaign he told reporters over and over that he wouldn’t commit to a “peaceful transition of power.” So, here is where we are. A crybaby of a president just refuses to go; he won’t leave the sandbox and he wants to keep his toys to himself. This country is the laughingstock of the civilized world. His baseless and ridiculous claims of “voter fraud” would be funny if they weren’t so dangerous to the well being of the country. Que verguenza.
What would normally be a fundamentally smooth transition from one administration to a subsequent one has been turned sideways. Or upside down, really. We have to invent a new word to replace “unbelievable” in the context of Trump’s words and behaviors. Who would have thunk we’d be in a situation such as this. But, let’s be calm. No matter how much he flails and grabs onto the curtains of the Oval Office as they drag him out, he will eventually be gone from the White House.
Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and their team have a lot to do, during the troubled transition and beyond. So does this country. Participation in democracy (with a lowercase “d”) is important in order to make it work. Sure, big money and powerful manipulations make a genuine democracy hard to secure in this country. But we’ve got to do the very best we can. And it starts with voting, but it doesn’t end there. Active participation in the political process is essential.
Latinos did their part when it comes to voting and getting the prevaricating president out of office. Heck, this whole country got off the couch and voted. Some 160 million people in this country voted. About 78 million voted for Biden. Yet, more than 73 million voted for Trump, the fabricator-in-chief. Unbelievable. Oh, we need a new word. Everything associated with this guy seems unbelievable.
That Trump would get that many votes is shocking and scary to me.
Demographers, statisticians and political strategists will be parsing and dissecting the numbers for some time to come. But a few general facts and trends are already evident. Latinos voted as if their lives depended on it. And, in many respects, their lives did depend on it. About 20 million Latinos voted!
Most of them, but certainly not all of them, voted for the Democratic Party candidate, Joe Biden. A good chunk of the nationwide Latino community voted for Trump. That’s difficult for me to accept. But that reveals my personal prejudice.
This points out, again, that we are not a monolith. Not in voting, not in lots of other realms. As Latinos, we come from different places (geographically and philosophically) and we sometimes have very different concerns. Chicanos from California have more in common with working class African Americans than, say, recently arrived folks from Argentina or Paraguay, for example. And people from Spain, well they’re the only genuine “Hispanics.” Chicanos, overall, have more in common with puertoriqueños in New York and San Juan than we do with cubanos in Miami. Chicanos are often in solidarity with brothers and sisters from Central America – but not always.
These are generalizations, of course. But they remind us that we Latinos look at the world through different prisms. Prisms constructed from specific histories and contemporary experiences.
So, politicians who try to “woo the Latino vote” have their work cut out for them. There is diversity within diversity. So how did we vote in this presidential election and why?
I see a Ph.D. dissertation by someone down the road. I hope she is honest as well as perceptive in her overview and analysis.
Well, at the moment, looking at the numbers from the perspective of a journalist and a longtime observer of the Latino political landscape, we can draw a few conclusions.
Let’s look at issues that, apparently, motivated Latinos to go to the polls, or send in their mail ballots. Immigration and the corollary DACA issue was a factor for Latinos to vote, and presumably vote against Trump and his pernicious immigration policies. Renewal of the Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals was something was perceived as a reason to vote for Biden, and certainly a reason NOT to vote for Trump. No matter how many years or generations we have been here, Chicanos (or Mexican Americans) are still very concerned about the general issue of immigration. Hey, we have history. Exclusions. Lynchings. Repatriation. Forced sterilizations. Bracero program deceptions. Kids in cages. Hey, as I said, we have history when it comes to immigration and its corollaries.
Yet, certain results are sure to baffle observers. Not all Latinos voted for Biden, as we said. Immigration is not an immediate, personal issue for Puerto Ricans. They are automatically United States citizens. Something tapado Trump does not seem to understand. (“Hey, Puerto Ricans, here catch some paper towels, you foreigners.”) Yet, many Puerto Ricans and other Latinos understand the necessity for reasonable immigration reform. Cubans in Florida have a unique perspective on immigration because of their particular experiences and the laws and policies that affected those experiences.
Yeah, Cubans are generally persuaded by the Republican Party. But, guess what? Some Chicano/mexicano folks voted for Trump. An interesting result was way down in Southern Texas, in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. I have been there. It is a singular environment. It’s right on the border with Mexico – an often-permeable border when you consider the linguistic and cultural osmosis you find there. Hey, even the gringos speak serviceable Spanish and eat chilaquiles. For example, Hidalgo County, which is right smack on the border, is 90 percent Chicano/mexicano. Irony of ironies, lots of them earn a good living by working for – wait for it – ICE and affiliated federal immigration agencies. Well, Latinos in Hidalgo County voted for Trump, by a sizeable margin. Yeah, we are not a monolith when it comes to voting, party affiliation, or much else.
So, some Latino-majority communities at the border voted for Trump in big percentages. Hard for some of us to digest. But, again, an indication that we don’t all behave the same. One reporter pursuing this inquiry got a response from a Chicano who was tired of answering the question “Why don’t all Latinos vote for the Democratic Party.” He told the reporter, essentially, “Why don’t you go investigate why it is that white people vote for the Republican Party.” “Nuff said.
Why did most Latinos vote for Biden? There will be lots of opinions from lots of sources. But a couple of things are pretty clear. Immigration, in all its permutations and images and philosophies was on the ballot. Latinos went to the polls with recent images of what Trump and his minions have done. Tearing nursing babies from their mother’s breast at the border. Separating families as if they were livestock. Putting kids in cages. (And you don’t have to be Latino to be appalled at that.) It conjures up the totality of the pendejadas by Trump over four painful years. In the final TV debate of the campaign Biden castigated Trump for putting immigrant children in cages. And Trump’s kneejerk idiotic response was: “Well, you built the cages, Joe.” Wow!
Ding-dong the witch is dead – sort of. The Wicked Witch of the West Wing will be gone, despite the kicking and screaming and tantrums.
Like our African American brothers and sisters we have had the institutional jackboot on our neck by out-of-control, unaccountable police departments for generations. Fundamentally reforming police institutions is a complex task and one that isn’t really done at the federal level. But directions and resources from the federal government can contribute to the kind of change required in cities and counties. That’s another motivation for Latinos to vote, and to actively participate in the political process. That’s another reason for Latinos to vote, and to vote for someone other than Trump, the guy who would apparently like to have 24-hour martial law where it would suit him.
Also, I think Latinos – like so many people in this country, irrespective of their color or ethnicity or gender or religion – were just so fed up with an unethical, lying, belligerent bully who only cares about himself. The country be damned. That’s motivation for voting.
And Latinos voted for action in confronting the deadly COVID-19 virus, reacting to Trump’s denial and inaction.
Furthermore, the public should understand that Chicanos and Latinos of all stripes don’t just care about “Latino issues.” We are fully integrated into the political/social/cultural milieu of the estados unidos. We care about immigration and the need for criminal justice reform, yeah. But we also give a damn about the rape of the environment, the need to confront the pernicious aspects of climate change, partly by abandoning the extraction of fossil fuels. We give a damn. Yes, we want a robust economy, with meaningful jobs and fair wages. (Some of that will come from a restructured Green economy, driven by smart technology and smart decisions.)
We give a damn about the social and political institutions of this country. We respect them. That’s why we (most of us, anyway) were so outraged by the non-stop pendejadas of Trump. The lying. The racism. The misogyny. The xenophobia. The rejection of logic and science, with its fatal consequences. Hell, nearly a quarter of a million people in this country have died from COVID-19. Right now, in the middle of November 2020 we are in the midst of the deadliest phase of this pandemic. We give a damn about that. And not only because Latinos are among the biggest casualties. (Reminds me of the Vietnam War.)
So, we are part of the political and cultural fabric of this country. That’s why we voted in such huge numbers. More than 20 million Latino votes. Sure there are differences among us. That should not surprise observers of the political landscape. There is diversity within diversity. But there’s no doubt that we are a big voice and getting louder and turning that voice and momentum into action. Where are we headed? Sabrá dios. But we ain’t going away and we are a force to be reckoned with.
Still, because of the damage Trump has done to our institutions and our norms (and because he has so many blind followers) I continue to fear for the future of the republic.
Copyright 2020 by Luis R. Torres. Mexican street scene copyrighted by Barrio Dog Productions, Inc. All other photos in the public domain. Veteran journalist Luis Torres is at work on a biography of former Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina. To contact Luis, write: firstname.lastname@example.org