The first Republican National Conference (RNC) head of Hispanic media relations, Ruth Guerra recently resigned in protest over the racist anti-immigrant remarks that presumptive nominee Donald Trump has made a cornerstone of his campaign. Her successor has placed the RNC in an awkward position, highlighting the enourmous problem facing the Republican Party when it comes to Hispanic relations.
Guerra resigned because, as a woman of Mexican heritage, she felt “uncomfortable” working for Trump. Her replacement, Helena Aguirre Ferré, has been virulently attacking Trump on Twitter up until a month ago – but now has been forced to compromise her views to conform to a party that values beating Democrats above all else. Ferré has since deleted her anti-Trump tweets. Unfortunately for her, the internet never forgets.
The RNC will have a lot of work to do trying to repair relations with Hispanic voters, especially when their own heads of Hispanic media relations are so opposed to Trump and his ethnonationalist rabble-rousing.
Trump continues to attack and alienate Hispanics on a regular basis, from his opening speech in which he called Mexican immigrants “rapists,” to his more recent smear campaign against U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel. Curiel, born in Indiana, was publicly slandered by Trump for his Mexican heritage after he ordered the unsealing of damning documents relating to the elaborate scam posing as a real estate seminar known as Trump University.
This is just the latest conflict of interests in the long and tumultuous history between the GOP and Hispanic voters. The Republican party has struggled to appeal to Hispanic voters for decades, despite the conservative values many Hispanics hold, preferring instead to pander to white working-class Americans. Unsurprisingly, Hispanic voters are rightfully still wary of the GOP. In 2012, 70% of Hispanic voters in the general election voted for Obama.
The primary issue keeping Hispanic voters away from the GOP is immigration. Conservative discussions of immigration can quickly turn nativist and downright nasty. Romney alienated many Hispanics in the 2012 election by vowing to convince illegal immigrants to “self-deport” by reducing their quality of life in America.
This was shocking at the time, but Trump has wildly outdone Romney. His anti-Hispanic, anti-immigration rhetoric has reached a point where even Hispanics within his party’s elite cannot support him. The Republicans need to confront their party’s entrenched racism and xenophobia if they ever hope to connect with the more than 27 million Hispanic eligible voters. Guerra’s resignation and Ferré’s Twitter scandal just serve to highlight the fundamental hypocrisy of reaching out to an ethnic community that is constantly demonized by their own nominee for the Presidency.
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.