President’s Blog – October 2015

The Trump Effect

Luis AThe presidential candidates have generated considerable media coverage the past couple of months. With only a short break during the Pope’s visit, news stories about the candidates, particularly the wealthy Republican candidate from New York, have dominated the media.

Without getting into partisan politics, we take notice this month in our newsletter how that particular candidate has impacted Latinos. Because Donald Trump’s comments were directed specifically at “Mexicans,” it’s been almost impossible to avoid discussion and debate on how his comments have affected our community.

We asked a cross-section of our newsletter readers – local Latino elected officials from throughout the four county region – to weigh in on this discussion and offer their comments. Again, we want to emphasize we’re not viewing this through a partisan lens, but rather, a “Latino lens.” How do we as Latinos respond when such a high-profile individual makes such incendiary remarks? And how, as Latino policymakers, should we react?

What we learned from comments submitted by our friends and colleagues, is that if nothing else, the volatile language that has emerged from the presidential campaign, is generating considerable debate and even activism in our community.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. We experienced it before during Pete Wilson’s Prop 187 campaign in 1994, which was approved by nearly 60% of California voters. In addition to generating increased Latino voter turnout, that initiative also sparked the birth of what some have called, “The Children of 187,” a generation of Latino activists who became motivated and politicized by the controversial measure. We know some of you are members of that generation.

Given the dismal Latino voter turnout from recent California elections, many of us believe, even hope, the controversy surrounding Mr. Trump’s comments may generate a similar reaction. Perhaps it can motivate Latinos who aren’t registered or who don’t vote regularly, to get involved. It is certainly generating considerable discussion and debate about immigration reform.

And maybe, on some high school or college campus, it has already sparked the birth of yet another generation of activists, young people who will one day be the leaders and policymakers that will follow in our footsteps.

Luis Ayala is the Board President of the Southern California Latino Policy Center and the Mayor of Alhambra.