Reports that Donald Trump almost matched Hillary Clinton in raising money for the month of August for his campaign should alarm everyone. In the end, the news could overshadow the events leading up to and after the Republican and Democratic national nominating conventions.
The money Trump raised in July, about $82 million, came mostly from small donors. If Trump can harness the full potential of his base, he could turn around a race he is currently losing. If it is about the money, Hispanic/Latinos need to take note.
Trump has made religion and the color of one’s skin a cornerstone of his campaign though he might deny it. He is close enough to the White House for Hispanic/Latinos to make a trip to the credit union if necessary. After all, as I have said before, this election is an existential matter. It was and is for the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan.
Trump as President is an immediate, direct threat to the existence of many in our community. More so, he endangers the existence of the republic and our democratic form of government that in the end could endanger the very existence of humankind itself were he to get his hands on the handles and gears of war or delay us in making hard decisions about climate change.
Forget the rising oceans for now. It should be enough for Hispanic/Latino parents to worry about their sons and daughters once again being shipped out to war to return mangled or killed or their skins and minds damaged in more ways than one.
It should be enough for Hispanic/Latinos — especially veterans who have voted Republican — to be repelled by someone who mocked a Gold Star mother; got his hands on a Purple Heart even though he got five deferments from serving in Vietnam; denigrated prisoners of war; and called a general who served all of his life in the military a failed person.
Imagine Donald Trump meeting flag-draped coffins at Dover. Of what possible comfort could he be to a family in tears, this man for whom empathy is so distant? Imagine the rage for any war-deaths that result from the decisions of a President who knows nothing about foreign policy but can command troops into battle. How long before a constitutional crisis would ensue?
Against that backdrop and in tandem with our lower voter and electoral participation rates, Hispanic/Latinos have never contributed in any significant way to political campaigns. Most Hispanic/Latino households do not have $25 lying around to give to anyone, much less a presidential campaign. Worse still, high-net-worth Hispanic/Latinos have not been especially supportive either.
It is time for everybody to give. This race could turn.
Bernie Sanders raised tens of millions of dollars in small sums from millions of contributors, many of whom never had given to a campaign. Likewise, Trump’s campaign coffers could explode overnight despite his plunging poll numbers. Hillary Clinton since her convention has opened up a significant lead over Trump in national surveys of registered and likely voters. But that should neither excuse nor preclude us from giving. Candidates with larger leads than Clinton’s today have lost.
As a group, Hispanic/Latinos cannot give much, but one million Hispanic/Latinos averaging $25 now and in September and October amounts to $75 million. That is a lot of money but hardly enough. Nevertheless, it will be money well spent, especially if the economy and the stock market were to tank were Trump to win.
Instead of giving up two hours of wages or so, many Hispanic/Latinos might have to give up their jobs — or much more.
Like the Khans, we have a lot of skin in the game.
Jesús (Jesse) Treviño is the former editorial page editor of The Austin American-Statesman.