Latino Community Rallies Around Clinton

To see what the Trump/Clinton matchup really means, it's helpful to look not just at this week's Democratic convention but to another convention. Earlier in July, speaking to an energized crowd at the annual LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) gathering in Washington, D.C.
07/27/2016 08:36 am ET Updated Jul 28, 2017

Of course, "we the people" don't elect the United States Supreme Court. However, as Hillary Clinton makes history this week in Philadelphia, it's worth noting that we're about to come very close to doing just that, given the ramifications for the high court. For a justice system facing massive decisions on immigration and civil rights, the implications are, well, huge.

Let's remember that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made headlines earlier this month in a New York Times interview where she was very critical of GOP nominee Donald Trump, who responded by saying she should resign and implying her mind was "gone." But amid those comments, she made it fairly clear what's up for grabs. The NYT wrote that the 83-year-old justice "... said she would not leave her job 'as long as I can do it full steam'. But she assessed what is at stake in the presidential election with the precision of an actuary, saying that Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Stephen G. Breyer are no longer young."

"Kennedy is about to turn 80," she said. "Breyer is going to turn 78."

To see what the Trump/Clinton matchup really means, it's helpful to look not just at this week's Democratic convention but to another convention. Earlier in July, speaking to an energized crowd at the annual LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) gathering in Washington, D.C., Clinton delivered the keynote speech and left the group fired up.

LULAC is not just another group. It was was founded in 1929 and remains one of the oldest civil rights organizations in the United States. It has filed numerous civil cases where matters of civil rights, immigration and education were at stake and provided housing to many Latin families.

While always popular within the Latino community, the group has evolved into a mainstream political influence and is exactly the sort of force Hillary Clinton needs. There's no doubt that she begins with an advantage - a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News National Poll indicated that over 75% of Hispanics plan to vote for Hillary.

LULAC wants to help them. Brent Wilkes, the group's National Executive Director, says that working through its local councils "we will increase awareness regarding the importance of voter registration and voting. In addition, LULAC will provide information regarding new ID laws that make voting and registering to vote more difficult. We will be mobilizing hundreds of grassroots councils to help people register to vote and we've launched an 'opportunidad app' to facilitate this process."

Clinton's speech in D.C. was short, but still managed to address her typical themes including education, women's rights, immigration and income inequality. Granted, it was her natural constituency but the reception she received was very passionate and supportive. Roger Rocha, LULAC National President, noted that she "... underlined a clear vision for comprehensive immigration reform and other issues that impact the Latino community."

Trump may be helping. According to Wilkes, the exclusionary message of Trump's "Make America Great Again" has alienated the fastest growing segment of the electorate. Trump launched his campaign with bigoted remarks about the Latino community and a call for mass deportations that would tear millions of families apart. He has repeatedly referred to Latinos as rapists and drug traffickers. It's a tough stance toward of community of 57 million voters with heavy representation in swing states such as Florida, Colorado, Virginia and Nevada.

It's difficult so see how Trump can clot his "Hispanic hemorrhage," but maybe he can shift momentum by using his uncanny ability to convince most people he is a greenback factory. So why not also a purveyor of education? He could be the first candidate to pitch "Real Estate 101" Sin Barreras (play on Inglés Sin Barreras, the bestselling self-taught English tutorial in the Hispanic community) to help empower the community and create the perception that he cares. It would behoove Trump to make a good faith effort to convince the community that his talk of walls and "gotta catch 'em all" was when he mistook his Pokémon Go vocabulary for campaign rhetoric.

I've seen him accomplish far more improbable tasks and it's worth the effort even if it fails to materialize this cycle. Gazing out into the sea of those Clinton supporters at LULAC's convention, one thing was clear: This sea is growing by the day and by 2050 able to swallow those that ignore it. This is not a crowd of people who would be found in that Paul Ryan "cracker gate" Instagram but a community that knows little of privilege but much of hardship and the struggle to make ends meet. They are just one generation away from being the dominant ethnic group in the United States and I am proud to be a part of this group.

With that said, I hope to see Trump at the LULAC Convention in 2017, perhaps seeking redemption from a community whose day in the sun will never set across the wall that will never be built. It remains to be seen if LULAC can meet its goal of helping Democrats keep that from being a presidential visit.