Viewpoints

Ruben Navarrette: Congressional Hispanics take a (trivial) stand

SAN DIEGO – Dear Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus:

Thank you for zeroing in on the controversy over Donald Trump hosting “Saturday Night Live” – and making a federal case out of it.

I’ve often criticized the 26 of you for failing to pull your own weight, worshipping at the altar of re-election, putting your personal interests above those of your constituents, and siding with your party against your people. You’re Democrats first and Hispanics second.

Given that you collect an annual salary of $174,000 to work an average of 137 legislative days a year, I’ve often noted that – since none of you is going to write the Great American Novel or start the next Google – this is the best job you'll ever have. No wonder you’re so desperate to keep it.

Water under the bridge. Although I’ve sometimes wondered if you have anything at all to contribute, I couldn’t be happier that you finally joined the chorus of Hispanic groups calling for NBC to “dump Trump” from “SNL.”

And what a statement you put out: “Trump’s racist remarks and his continued rhetoric demonizing Latinos and immigrants has created fear within these communities around the country, many of which are represented in Congress by members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.”

All true. But here I thought that what your constituents were really afraid of is that you might never leave office.

The statement went on: “Therefore, be it resolved that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus calls upon NBCUniversal, Broadway Video, and ‘SNL' Executive Producer Lorne Michaels to disinvite Mr. Trump from hosting ‘Saturday Night Live' because racism is not funny.”

No, it’s not. And neither is shabby leadership.

What was really grand was the way you sauntered into the fray. Brave souls like Felix Sanchez, co-founder of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, started pressuring NBCUniversal to oust Trump shortly after the announcement was made on Oct. 13 that the billionaire would host “SNL.” I’m sure Sanchez could have used your support early on. But you were smart enough to wait – until just a few days before the show aired – to lend your voice to the cause. Imagine how rattled Trump must have been when he heard you were demanding his removal just as he was being fitted for wardrobe and rehearsing his lines. Way to get into his head.

Sure, Eva Longoria – actress, Democratic Party activist, and co-chair of President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign – defended the right of “SNL’s” producers to invite whomever they want to host the show, including Trump. And sure, GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio – who has more reason than most Hispanics to despise Trump, now that the real estate developer is treating the Florida senator like a pinata – advised Latinos to simply change the channel. But you don’t get respect by turning a dial. You get it by making demands. So what if people ignore them?

But the real reason I’m so pleased that you joined more than 40 organizations in their campaign to drop Trump, which included online petitions with more than 500,000 signatures, is that it must mean that you’ve conquered every other major issue and policy challenge facing America’s largest minority. I mean, you’d look silly if you found the time and effort to intervene in such a trivial controversy over a television show if you hadn’t completed your legislative duties.

So I take it, you’ve prepared an angry critique of Obama’s atrocious immigration record, which includes more than 2.5 million deportations and the detention of hundreds of child refugees from Central America in draconian holding facilities in Texas. And I can assume that you’re ready to fight the administration over its retreat on something that has benefited Hispanic students – high-stakes government-mandated testing that holds schools accountable for not teaching kids what they should be learning. And I’m sure you’re readying a financial plan to help Latinos recoup the personal wealth they lost due to failed economic policies coming out of Washington. And I can’t wait to see what you’ve done on public safety, health care, job creation, tax reform, national security and the multitude of other policy priorities that you’re paid to work on for your constituents.

Again, gracias, Congressional Hispanic Caucus for taking on Donald Trump and “Saturday Night Live.” Someone has to fight the important battles. And that’s what we pay you to do. You make us proud.

Ruben Navarrette’s email address is ruben@rubennavarrette.com.

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