If Republicans learned anything from Mitt Romney’s staggering loss in 2012, it was that the middle-aged, middle-class white Christian male demographic was no longer large enough to carry an election. In the year-and-a-half since, the GOP has been trying–desperately and hilariously–to appeal to the country’s largest ethnic minority: Latinos.
Much to their annoyance, this plan has met with stunningly limited success… mostly because of shit like this:
not surprise you to learn Latinos were unimpressed with California gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly’s attempt to woo them with Spanish-speaking chiquitas, sultry language, and a chihuahua named Tequila. Apparently, they consider that kind of thing racist.
Both Donnelly and Conchita Alonso, the swooning morena at Donnelly’s side, have become objects of scorn within California’s vibrant and multitudinous Latino community, which essentially means Donnelly now has no chance of winning the governorship.
In a feeble attempt to salvage what remains of his ruined campaign, Donnelly clarified for CNN that he is not, in fact a racist:
The candidate, who is also a state assemblyman, touted his Filipina wife as evidence that he’s not prejudiced.
“If I am a racist, I’m not a very good one,” Donnelly said Thursday on CNN en Español’s “Directo USA” show. “I must have gone to the wrong school where you learn how to be a racist because I married a woman with dark skin. As a matter of fact, her skin’s darker than Maria Conchita’s.”
Alonso agreed, saying, “Tim is married to a Filipina. His daughter-in-law is Mexican. He is not a racist and neither am I, as we are now being accused.”
And this is why Republicans continually fail to win over Latino voters.
Donnelly may have married a Filipina. He may love her very much. There might not be a single drop of hateful blood beneath his pasty-ass Casperian skin. But you don’t have to hate someone to dehumanize them. To marginalize them. To reduce them to a cartoonish stereotype.
Republicans just don’t get this. They think that if they show up in front of a camera and utter a few short sentences in broken Spanish about how much they love tacos, tequila, and banda music, that Latinos will just roll the fuck over and replace ignorant hillbillies as the Republican base for the next hundred years. Unfortunately for men like Donnelly, Latinos are human beings. They happen to be intelligent, and there are major political issues which affect many of them directly. Republicans have categorically failed to win over the Latino demographic not because they don’t speak Spanish or hang out with Conchita Alonso, but because they are on the wrong side of virtually every issue concerning Latino voters.
Hanging out with a Mexican beauty queen isn’t going to erase the fact Donnelly joined a Minutemen vigilante group in 2005, and took to patrolling the Mexican-American border with a locked-and-cocked M1911 tucked into his belt.
LA Weekly News reporter Gene Maddaus reported in 2010:
He had been pushed to this point by a fourth-grader. The boy, the 10-year-old son of Mexican immigrants, had been accused of sexually harassing a white girl at Lake Arrowhead Elementary. In the weeks since the story appeared in the local paper, Donnelly had grown obsessed with illegal immigration. When he tried to talk about it, people looked at him like he was crazy. The next thing he knew, he was driving eight hours straight to Tombstone, Arizona.
In an interview over the summer at his house in Twin Peaks, outside Lake Arrowhead, Donnelly showed a visitor his entire rifle collection. It’s in a small room behind the garage. He carefully unloaded each weapon before handing it over. Here’s an antique Winchester .22. Here’s a replica of a Henry repeating rifle, which he won at a National Rifle Association dinner. Here’s an M14, which fires .308 rounds.
“The round on this is full metal jacket,” he said. “It’ll go through a tree at 100 yards and still kill a man.”
Nor will a few moments of Spanish dialogue make Latinos more comfortable with a candidate who wants to give police free rein to harass them under an Arizona-style anti-immigration bill.
Latinos are keenly aware of their status in this country. After almost two centuries of discrimination, defamation and abuse, they are now in a numerical position to make demands from their government. And the government, it would seem, is now in the position where it must listen. Pandering isn’t going to cut it anymore. If you want to win over Latinos, you need to do more than show you’re willing to tolerate a few seconds’ of spoken Spanish or guzzle down a glass of horchata. You need to think of them as people, not demographics.
Donnelly doesn’t understand this. And that’s fine by me, because it means he won’t win.
So, here’s to another soul-crushing four years under Jerry Brown.