NEW HAVEN, CONN. — Several days later, on the train to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia knowing that I should get used to a surprise a day, I nevertheless still have to pinch myself to believe the raw hate and anger that swelled up from the floor of the convention hall and the delegates who nominated Donald Trump in Cleveland. It was shocking.

As astonishing were the odious speakers, culminating in Trump’s wretched ranting about race and ethnicity. His congratulatory stepping away from the podium and self-congratulatory bopping of his head up and down – feeling the fury he had unleashed come back at him in a rush from the delegates – reminded me of Benito Mussolini.  It was eerie, abnormal.

The many commentators on television who tried to equate this 2016 convention to the troubled 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago were engaging in lazy thinking. In Chicago, delegates fought angrily over the war in Vietnam. In Cleveland, the delegates in reality were hurling invective at half of the country that elected Barack Obama President, fearing, of course, that we will elect Hillary Clinton as well. I got a sense that the Republican delegates intuited their defeat come November, metastasizing their rage.

The Clinton campaign team played brilliantly their hand, running again and again the ad featuring the kids watching snippets of Trump at his foulest worst. Kids in commercials are a powerful force. This was LBJ’s daisy ad. For four days the ads began to build a huge virtual jaw into which on the last day the disdainful Trump walked, his ego clouding the reality around him.

But hate is a potent force that has turned elections in the past, and despite the disaster that was Cleveland, Democrats cannot afford to let up and must work to win the election.

Trump, though, has achieved one of the underlying sentiments of his fellow Republican delegates in Cleveland: He has stymied the growth of the political power of Hispanic/Latinos not only at the national level but the local level as well.

Another, more normal GOP nominee would have seen the demographic writing on the wall and chosen from one of a handful of plausible Hispanic/Latino Republican officeholders. Nevada Gov. Ruben Sandoval or New Mexico Governor Susana Martínez or the ever-ready Marco Rubio were well-suited to the office. Either Sandoval or Rubio would have been a nightmare in a normal contest. But Trump chose Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, forcing Clinton to not accentuate ethnicity and thus Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine emerged on the Democratic side.

For the next eight years, then, unless events intrude, Hispanic/Latinos, already disproportionately underrepresented in the Senate and the House of Representatives, will continue their too-slow entry into the American political mainstream. A Hispanic/Latino on the Democratic ticket and as Vice President would have spurred much-needed efforts at the local level to strengthen Hispanic/Latino involvement and engagement in public and civic life.

It should more than matter to Hispanic/Latinos that in the next eight years great decisions will be taken on issues and challenges that involve their immediate future in which they will have limited say. And it should matter that no one in the White House will take personal interest in the further enhancement of the Hispanic/Latino electorate at the local level.

It is no longer acceptable to entrust in a presidential administration our whole destiny. Nothing beats being at the table. Discussions at tables more often than not lead to compromise. And how quickly can fall off the needs and concerns of Hispanic/Latinos! It has been happening for decades.

I traded e-mails with a friend who earnestly supported the idea of Julián Castro being named Clinton’s running mate. He was disappointed but realistic.

“We have to win the election.”


The cost otherwise would be higher than it sadly already is.

Jesús (Jesse) Treviño is the former editorial page editor of The Austin American-Statesman.

Two Parties: Two HispanicLatino Vice Presidents

The attention that the HispanicLatino vote received during the presidential campaign and future demographic projections of its growth have caused the media and obsessive politico-types to speculate about when the first President of HispanicLatino descent will be sworn into office.  The strategic placement of the HispanicLatino population in critical states has made a deep impression on political strategists that appears lasting and could accelerate the election to the Presidency a member of a group that only this year surpassed 10 percent of the national voting electorate.  It seems absurd that people on television are fantasizing about future administrations, but the emergence of the telegenic Castro twins of San Antonio on the national scene had fueled the chatter.

Continue reading

In Tampa: More than a Tropical Storm Named Isaac

As the tropics churn with potential storms, they cast an ominous backdrop for Tampa as it prepares for the Republican National Convention that starts next week.  It is also a stormy time for speechwriters drafting remarks for the lineup of speakers, especially the Hispanic or Latino “stars” of the party.  With only minimal original input from the speakers who will deliver them, the speeches theoretically are intended to provide answers for voters, and so it will be tough going against a stiff wind for speechwriters to compose something for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martínez and senatorial nominee Ted Cruz of Texas.

Aside from the strident attacks on immigrants that are only a charade for how Republicans feel about the changing demography of the nation, these “stars” will have to address a national HispanicLatino audience with a straight face.  Behind the curtain in the convention hall, GOP strategists have put in motion plans to suppress – actively, consciously suppress – the HispanicLatino vote.  These four individuals know they were elected in unique elections with unusual electoral characteristics and that they are part of an organization that seeks not to expand the progress HispanicLatinos make but to limit it – and aggressively so. Continue reading

Julián Castro and the Democrats’ Looming 75-Percent Solution

Could President Obama’s share of the Hispanic/Latino vote – as high as 75 percent according to some polls – be bumped any higher after Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan as his running mate?  Seems unlikely, but the possibility of freezing HispanicLatino support at that stratospheric number alone should make the mouths of Democratic strategists water.  Think of it: Romney, clinging to the anti-HispanicLatino message that he embraced during the primary campaign, puts on the ticket a representative of the tea party – comprised of the most vociferous anti-HispanicLatino Republicans.

If Romney’s campaign already was taking a shellacking nationally – his unfavorable rating among all voters is at an unheard of 49 percent for a challenger to an incumbent President – then among HispanicLatinos Romney has tanked.  That sound you hear should be Chicago going in for the kill to seal the election.  Continue reading

What Ted Cruz Has Wrought

My rip-roaring social life allows me to watch Air Disasters, a program on one of those cable channels skipped over by millions.  Each episode analyzes and documents the cause behind the tragic destruction of a plane loaded with human life.  Each story revolves around a small thing – a screw, a wire, a microscopic air bubble – that over a period of time went unattended and then went on to trigger a series of regrettable, irreversible events.  The screw suddenly pops at the wrong time at the wrong place.  A wire long-frayed blows.  A microscopic air bubble balloons into disaster.  Perhaps the very design of the plane itself lends itself to ruin.

Ted Cruz’ win last night to become the nominee of the Texas Republican Party for the Senate was a hard-earned victory that was a very personal triumph for him.  But it speaks more to what Texas Democrats did – or did not do – years ago to avert catastrophe, which is what the 41-year-old Cruz is for them.  For years, the decision-makers in the party that once dominated political life in Texas began to commit the mistakes that have now caused a historic crash that will reverberate for decades, yes, decades to come.  The beatdown that Cruz gave the incumbent lieutenant governor last night is nothing compared to the beatdown Cruz has given to Texas Democrats who believed that demography alone would bring their state back into the blue column.

Continue reading