by Abel Guerra
Abel Guerra was associate director of public liaison in the George W. Bush White House from 2001-2004.
Sept. 15 was the start of Hispanic Heritage Month — a time that celebrates a community built on faith, family and a strong work ethic. We are teachers, doctors, lawyers, judges, members of the military, police officers and even astronauts. All contribute greatly to America.
The feeling is not reciprocated by today’s Republican Party. It is no place for Latinos. We don’t feel welcome in a party that condones racism and looks away while the current president degrades our community and destroys America. The once-proud party of Lincoln, established to abolish slavery, has been transformed into a comatose crew brainwashed by white identity politics and narrow-minded nationalist nostalgia.
I know a little about this. I am a Republican. I worked in the George W. Bush White House. And I say to my fellow Latinos: I’m not asking you to become a Democrat. But I am asking you to vote President Trump out of office.
Some of us have already left the GOP, of course, disgusted by Trump and his accomplices. Others among us remain alienated and aloof, waiting out the Trump tornado.
But the wait-him-out approach is no longer viable. Republicans have lost control of the monster they helped create. Trump hasn’t changed. From day one, Trump spewed his white-supremacist views, promising to halt the invasion of immigrants and spurring a rhetoric of resentment and retaliation against the “other.” No matter our background, we have been vilified as invaders, marked as illegal and degraded as subhuman. The silence from prominent Republicans is deafening. They have allowed Trump to normalize bigotry and use it as a winning strategy for their benefit. They enabled him to turn racist rhetoric into racial conflict, dividing our nation.
In a postmortem after Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 campaign, GOP leaders concluded: “America is changing demographically . . . If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them and show our sincerity.”
Less than seven years later, while Trump fixes Latinos in his crosshairs, GOP leaders stick their heads in the sand, complicit by their cowardice. Worse than saying nothing or tolerating his tantrums, some even protect Trump, colluding with the devil for fear of political demise.
And now, they have blood on their hands. The Walmart shooting in El Paso on Aug. 3 was the inevitable outcome of 30 straight months of hate speech coming from the White House. Fueled by the president’s vitriol, a killer sought out immigrants to slaughter. The shooting isn’t just a tragedy, it’s a massacre, a direct hit against our community. Do not imagine we do not all feel the consequences. I have a friend who lives in Austin. She says she no longer feels comfortable going to a store to purchase diapers for her child.
Republicans will pay a price for this situation and for their silence. By the 2020 election, Hispanics will be the largest racial or ethnic minority group in the electorate — 32 million will be eligible to vote. At the same time, 1 in 10 eligible voters will be Generation Z, those between the ages 18 and 23, who are socially liberal and more racially and ethnically diverse.
As Hispanics, we need to get more voters registered and to the polls. We need to understand that our votes matters, more than ever. A vote against Trump is a stand for human freedom and a future where America is again known for its ideals and not ignorance.
Republicans need to dust off their moral compass and remember what they stand for — and what they stand against, If they do not, they will lose Latinos forever and relegate themselves once more to minority status, likely unable to regain control of Congress or the White House again. If countering racism is not motivation enough for the GOP to act, perhaps its looming political demise will be.
The United States is a great country. Hispanic Heritage Month honors the contributions the community has made — and will keep making — to keep it that way. And without Trump, America will be even better.