Trumping His Way to the Presidency

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

As Joshua Pinho pointed out in a recent post, Donald Trump has surged to the top of several presidential polls recently.  But not everything has been going well for the famous blonde magnate.  After his official announcement, Trump has also reached the highest spot in the “most-hated-personality” list of several media companies (i.e., Univision, NBC, Televisa) and of some Hispanic organizations.  These companies’ reaction has been to cut professional and business ties with Trump after he stated in his announcement speech:

The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody elses problems.

Thank you. Its true, and these are the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, theyre not sending their best. Theyre not sending you. Theyre not sending you. Theyre sending people that have lots of problems, and theyre bringing those problems with us. Theyre bringing drugs. Theyre bringing crime. Theyre rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

But I speak to border guards and they tell us what were getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. Theyre sending us not the right people.

Trump’s words have created a domino effect in which various networks and companies have made public their discontent with Trump, one after another.

First, Univision abandoned a mega deal signed earlier on the year with the Trump Organization, in which they had agreed to air the Miss America and Miss Universe telecasts on their network, stating they would not have any business relations with the candidate (it’s worth noting that Univision is the most watched American Spanish-language network and as of 2013 had the most viewers in the 18-49 age block, more than FOX, NBC, ABC and CBS, which means a lot of prospective voters watch this network).

Then came NBC’s turn (the co-owner of the Miss Universe franchise), which also backed away from their joint ownership and telecast of the beauty pageants.  Finally, Televisa (the world’s largest Spanish media company and owner of the Miss Mexico pageant) decided they wouldn’t televise nor have any kind of commercial ties with Trump and his events.  In support of these networks’ decisions, many Hispanic celebrities from all over also criticized Trump’s insensitive comments about Mexicans.

Trump’s response has been a barrage of media tactics that speak more to his thirst for media attention than to his willingness to rightly backtrack from his inflammatory remarks and resolve the controversy once and for all.

For example, rather than apologizing, he published this personal letter penned to Univision’s president and later got into a spat with the most renowned Hispanic journalist in the world, Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos. When Ramos attempted to get an interview with Trump, the journalist instead found his handwritten note and personal cell phone number shared with the world via Trump’s Instagram account, a maneuver Trump later argued was used to highlight Univision’s lack of consistency in their previous actions.

The dangerous outcome of this saga between moguls is that it may not have a decisive end soon. Trump has filed a lawsuit against Univision alleging they are violating his freedom of speech, and Univision has stated once again they will stay firm in their decision to cut ties with him. Many other companies are now doing the same, such as Macy’s, which this week became the latest to join the club of Trump’s ex-business partners.

As interesting as this tabloid-esque story is, it has the potential to make a profound and long-lasting impact on Republicans’ political campaign this election cycle.  While the other candidates seem uninterested in having anything to do with this melee, the lack of condemnation of Trump’s comments is disheartening for conservative Hispanics hoping that the GOP does a better job of courting the Hispanic community before the 2016 elections.

Let’s be clear here: I am not saying that the party or the candidates are called to act because of the public pressure imposed by the networks or by left-leaning celebrities.  But Trump’s generalizations and false depiction of immigrants directly affects how he, and the GOP, are perceived by the more than 30 million people of Mexican origin living in the U.S. and the Hispanic-American population in general.  Behind his words, there are bigoted sentiments that in no way should reflect the feelings and attitudes of the Republican Party or any of its representatives or candidates.

Considering the faint-hearted response that our party members have given to Trump’s comments, it appears not many people within the party understand how important the Hispanic media is within the community in shaping their views and attitudes.  For example, Israel Ortega persuasively wrote last year about the influential role Univision and its reporters play in our nation.  Instead of running away from this issue, it is imperative that all conservative spokespersons and candidates tackle Trump’s erratic discourse and loudly condemn the incorrect and offensive characterization he has made of the Hispanic community.

As conservatives, we cannot allow the perception that the GOP and its candidates are anti-Hispanic to become reality for the coming elections. If it does, we might as well start the crowning ceremony for Hillary Clinton, who at this pace will be our undisputed 2016 queen.

Carlos Mercader is Deputy Director of American Principles in Action’s Latino Partnership.