SAN DIEGO – With Democrats gathered in Philadelphia for their national convention, Latinos must accept the hard truth: The Democratic Party, for which they’ve done so much, has not done right by them.
In fact, Latinos are being humiliated by Democrats, who they assume are in their corner – mostly because, when it comes to Latinos, Republicans alternate between the profane and the offensive.
You might think that a community that has given a majority of their votes to Democrats in the last 14 presidential elections would get some respect from party leaders. You’d be wrong.
Thanks to hacked emails released by WikiLeaks, we know that a clueless DNC staffer named Rebecca Christopher – in a message dated May 6 – flippantly used a Mexican food reference to describe Democratic Latino outreach efforts. Christopher wrote to colleagues:
“Attached is a script for a new video we’d like to use to mop up some more taco bowl engagement, and demonstrate 1 / 8that 3 / 8 Trump actually isn’t trying.”
And the Democratic Party is trying to get Hispanic votes? With what – more “taco bowl engagement”?
That condescending and offensive phrase is Christopher’s alone. She could have chosen any words to get her point across, and she went with those.
This whole food fixation sounds familiar. On Cinco de Mayo, Donald Trump mocked Hispanic voters by tweeting a photo of him eating a taco bowl with the caption: “I love Hispanics!”
A Democrat running for president would never say something so insulting, right? Wanna bet?
In 2008, during her first White House bid, Clinton tried to inspire Hispanics in a Mexican restaurant in Las Vegas by insisting that Americans’ problems are connected even though “we treat them as though one is guacamole and one is chips.”
In the civil rights movement of the 1960s, African-Americans held up placards declaring: “I am somebody.”
Today, Latino voters need to hold up signs that say: “I am not somebody’s favorite food item.”
But as insults go, the taco bowl slight wasn’t the worst thing that Democrats did to Latinos recently. That prize goes to Clinton herself for skipping over rising star Julian Castro and choosing as her running mate Tim Kaine, who is generously described as a boring white guy.
Personally, I’m glad to see a white male get this gig. They never get anything.
All Castro did was campaign with Clinton, try to make her more popular with Latinos, help rebrand her as “La Hillary,” defend her email shenanigans, and dismiss GOP investigations into the Benghazi attacks as a witch hunt.
The housing secretary also praised Clinton during an interview in violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits partisan political activity by federal employees – even those being considered as vice presidential candidates.
I’m not upset that my friend was passed over. I never expected him to be chosen by Clinton. I knew this was a tease.
But I’m furious at the cynical, dishonest and manipulative way in which this whole VP selection process was handled by Team Clinton. Democratic Party insiders were telling me as early as six months ago that Castro was out of the running.
The reason: Trump, who is especially hateful toward Latinos. As it became clear that the Manhattan real estate developer was going to win the Republican nomination, it also became clear that Clinton was going to automatically get 70 to 80 percent of the Latino vote. She didn’t need Castro anymore.
What she needed was someone to make her more palatable to working-class white males. Enter Kaine, who has been lobbying for this job for the better part of a year. To make things worse, the Clinton campaign picked up a line that Kaine’s Senate staffers have been advancing for months – emphasizing that Kaine speaks Spanish.
The point was to undercut the competition. Like many second- and third-generation Mexican-Americans whose parents and grandparents were discriminated against for not speaking English, Castro doesn’t speak Spanish. So what? Today, about 70 percent of Latinos speak English proficiently.
Message to Republicans: We don’t all eat taco bowls. Message to Democrats: We don’t all speak Spanish.
So, if Castro was indeed out of the running months ago, why did Clinton and other Democrats keep dangling his name in front of Latino voters like a carrot put in front of a burro to get it to pull a plow? That’s just cruel.
Why? Because when you’re talking about human beings in terms of taco bowls, burros are a step up.
Ruben Navarrette’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.