Why Lati­nos aren’t flock­ing to Hil­lary Clin­ton

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - Ruben Navarette Jr.

— Given how in­tensely Lati­nos de­test Don­ald Trump, many Democrats prob­a­bly as­sumed that Amer­ica’s fastest-grow­ing group of vot­ers would flock to Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton — and by such mar­gins that Democrats run­ning for Congress could ride her coat­tails.

This is not hap­pen­ing. With just a few weeks un­til Elec­tion Day, Democrats must look at the level of en­thu­si­asm that Lati­nos have for Clin­ton and won­der: “Where’s the love?”

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent ar­ti­cle in The Wash­ing­ton Post, with sup­port lag­ging among Latino vot­ers for Clin­ton and con­gres­sional can­di­dates in key races, Democrats are


wor­ried that they’re squan­der­ing the op­por­tu­nity to lock down the Latino vote as a per­ma­nent part of the Demo­cratic coali­tion.

Clin­ton still holds a roughly 4-to-1 lead over Trump in polls, with nearly 80 per­cent of Lati­nos dis­ap­prov­ing of the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee’s words, deeds, poli­cies and char­ac­ter.

But what has Democrats con­cerned is that Clin­ton isn’t mea­sur­ing up to where Pres­i­dent Obama was with Latino vot­ers in 2012. And that en­thu­si­asm gap could trans­late into a lower-thanex­pected turnout among Lati­nos that would re­ally hurt Clin­ton in bat­tle­ground states with sub­stan­tial Latino pop­u­la­tions such as Florida, Ne­vada, Ari­zona and Colorado.

When it comes to sell­ing Lati­nos on her can­di­dacy, Clin­ton just can’t close. Here are six rea­sons why:

— Lati­nos are more cyn­i­cal than they were eight years ago be­cause Obama be­trayed them. While run­ning for pres­i­dent in 2008, Obama promised to make im­mi­gra­tion re­form a top pri­or­ity and blasted the George W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion for de­port­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants. But once he got into of­fice, Obama put the is­sue on the back burner dur­ing his first term, and ratch­eted up de­por­ta­tions to record levels.

— With Lati­nos, a lit­tle re­spect goes a long way. The Clin­ton cam­paign had early stum­bles. First, it likened the for­mer sec­re­tary of state to a Latino grand­mother, hop­ing that the emo­tion that Lati­nos have for one would trans­fer over to the other. That back­fired be­cause many Lati­nos would just as soon leave their grandma out of pol­i­tics. Then Latino Democrats be­gan to call her “La Hil­lary.” That didn’t work ei­ther. All the while, Clin­ton kept men­tion­ing to Latino crowds that she loves hot sauce.

— Lati­nos never for­get. Clin­ton was once a hard­liner on im­mi­gra­tion, boast­ing to a con­ser­va­tive New York ra­dio host in 2003 that she was “adamantly against il­le­gal im­mi­grants.” And of course, in 2014, when more than 80,000 refugees from Cen­tral Amer­ica — most of them women and chil­dren — crossed the bor­der, Clin­ton sounded cal­lous when she said, dur­ing a CNN town hall, that the young­sters “should be sent back.” She later soft­ened her stance.

— As Clin­ton has noted, a Mex­i­can proverb says: ”Dime con quien an­das y te dire quien eres.” (Tell me with whom you walk, and I will tell you who you are.) Vot­ers are right to ask whether she shares the views of her hus­band, for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, who mil­i­ta­rized the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der in 1994 through Op­er­a­tion Gate­keeper and signed into law a dread­ful im­mi­gra­tion bill in 1996 that made it eas­ier to de­port folks and harder for them to re­turn.

— Lati­nos know they’re be­ing ig­nored so Clin­ton and her sur­ro­gates can spend time court­ing work­ing-class whites in Rust Belt states like Ohio, Penn­syl­va­nia, Michi­gan and Wis­con­sin. The se­lec­tion of Tim Kaine as Clin­ton’s run­ning mate, as op­posed to a Latino like Hous­ing Sec­re­tary Ju­lian Cas­tro or La­bor Sec­re­tary Tom Perez, sym­bol­ized the Democrats’ pri­or­i­ties.

— Fi­nally, ac­cord­ing to the Post, many Latino Democrats com­plain that the Clin­ton cam­paign was late rolling out Span­ish-lan­guage ads in key mar­kets. The cam­paign was more pre­oc­cu­pied with woo­ing English-speak­ing Latino mil­len­ni­als who, iron­i­cally, are now the least ex­cited about Clin­ton. Con­trast that with Obama’s 2012 cam­paign, which tar­geted im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties and nat­u­ral­ized vot­ers through ap­pear­ances on Span­ish­language ra­dio and tele­vi­sion.

Democrats are learn­ing a hard les­son. They as­sumed that the fact that Lati­nos hated Trump would trans­late into them lov­ing Clin­ton. But, in pol­i­tics, it does not al­ways fol­low that those who op­pose your ad­ver­sary are nec­es­sar­ily your al­lies.

You make al­lies by treat­ing peo­ple with re­spect, and not ap­proach­ing them as an af­ter­thought. Votes are earned. Like other Amer­i­cans, Lati­nos don’t like be­ing taken for granted. And, be­fore they give their sup­port, it’s al­ways nice to be asked.

Which brings us to the main rea­son that Hil­lary Clin­ton isn’t get­ting a warmer re­cep­tion from Latino vot­ers. Look around. She hasn’t earned it.

Ruben Navarette Jr. is a syn­di­cated colum­nist from the Wash­ing­ton Post. His email is reuben@ruben­navarette.com.

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