There I stood in sheer disbelief.
I was floored.
I almost wanted him to repeat what he said.
But no, I’d heard his words.
“You should run for mayor. I’d vote for you.” he said.
Early last year, at one of my previous bartending jobs, I had the pleasure of engaging in an extended conversation with a guest (call him J). His wife was out of town, and thus he was dining alone and it was a slow night so I was able to chat with him for some time. IIRC (If I Recall Correctly), this was around the time of the Sochi Winter Olympics (J’s wife was involved in some sort of security detail related to the Olympics). Anyway, we discussed a host of topics, from the possible danger his wife might face to the rumors of an increase in sex trafficking with the massive influx of people going to the Olympics. From there we branched off and discussed sexual assault statistics, Rape Culture, and more. I began to notice that J was more interested in learning about me, which was evident by the fact that he kept posing questions; questions that seemed quite genuine. I never got the impression that he was feigning interest or trying to lead our conversation in any particular direction. Over time, we came to discuss my worldview. J asked me what my religious beliefs were. I was hesitant to answer his question. After all, I live in the South, which is deeeeeeply religious. And there I was, a bartender, dependent upon the good graces of guests to make a living. If I said anything untoward or potentially offensive to a guest, I could risk losing a tip (or worse, since the state of Florida allows employees to be fired for anything).
It seemed like an eternity, but in reality it was probably just a few seconds before I responded with “I’m a nonbeliever”. Yeah, I chose to avoid the word “atheist”, even though that was a perfectly applicable label (and one I typically embrace, just not with guests at work). J began asking questions about that and again, he seemed sincerely interested. And, thankfully, not at all offended. I told him why and how I came to be an atheist. He then asked me what I believed in, which is a question many atheists-including myself-have been asked. I told him that while I don’t believe in a higher power or powers (by virtue of insufficient evidence), that I am a Humanist. He seemed genuinely interested to learn that I believe in using science, logic, and reason to inform my opinions, and that with no evidence of any deities, I feel it is the responsibility of humanity to solve our own problems. I also told him that I believe that all human beings-all human beings-have basic rights and that those rights should not be suspended because someone has committed a heinous crime or because a government chooses to torture a suspect in the hopes of acquiring information. From there I segued into my reasons for supporting a woman’s right to choose, which is an extension of my support for human rights (specifically the right to bodily autonomy). As we approached the conclusion of our conversation, I realized that it sounded like I was selling myself. In a way I guess I was, which was why J asked me if I ever had political aspirations. I told him no, but he reiterated that he was serious; that he liked what I had to say and was impressed with how well I was able to articulate my thoughts in a comprehensible manner. That’s when he said it: “You should run for mayor. I’d vote for you.” As I said above, I was floored. I’d had compliments before, but never had anyone suggested something like “dude, run for mayor”. I thanked J and informed him that I really didn’t have an interest in any political office. I remember going home that night feeling good about myself, having received external confirmation that I was a good person with a strong sense of morality. I haven’t seen J since that day last year, but his words still resonate with me.
I’m still not interested in running for any political office (largely bc I’m not at any point in my life where that’s a realistic consideration anyway; also bc I don’t see myself as being a leader), but J’s words sprung up from the corners of my mind recently, but with a twist. What if, instead of talking to me, J was conversing with someone like, oh, this guy?
Can you imagine how that might have gone?
J: Mr. Trump, what are your beliefs?
The Donald: Well, I believe that Obama is not an American citizen!
J: Ah, so you’re one of those birther types who irrationally believe that President Obama could have become president without being vetted extensively. What else do you believe?
The Donald: I believe in traditional marriage.
J: Ok, but you’ve been married three times. What is traditional about that? Nevermind, CNN host Jake Tapper already called you out on that. No need to mock you any further for that inconsisten stance. Can you answer this: what’s your stance on marriage equality?
The Donald: I believe in traditional marriage.
J: Oooooook. I see this is going nowhere. How about this, how would you handle the threat of ISIS?
The Donald: Oh, I have the perfect answer.
J: Ok, let’s hear it.
The Donald: I’m not going to tell you.
J: What are you…12? Forget it. Let’s move on. What are your thoughts on handling the issue of immigration?
The Donald: Ah, this one I have a plan that I am willing to share.
J: Cool! Let’s hear it.
The Donald: A wall. I’m going to build a wall at the Mexican border. Or maybe I’ll have Mexico build a wall at the border. I don’t know. I haven’t really thought this through. Let me get back to you.
J: Oooooooook. But why would you want to erect a wall at the Mexican border? What is the point of that?
When do we beat Mexico at the border? They’re laughing at us, at our stupidity. And now they are beating us economically. They are not our friend, believe me. But they’re killing us economically.
The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.
Thank you. It’s true, and these are the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
J: Yeah, ok. No dude. You should never run for public office. You’re an irrational, racist, xenophobic, conspiracy theorist. If you ever did run for office, I would never vote for you. You’re unhinged. See ya.
In all seriousness, I almost can’t believe Trump went there (*almost*-I’m well aware of his history of being a double-dipped douchebag). He actually characterized millions of Mexican immigrants as drug runners, criminals and rapists. But hey, he said there were some good people too, so that completely mitigates his racist statements. Except no, it doesn’t (and if suffer from the same empathy deficiency as Trump, try substituting Europeans in place of Mexicans in his speech and that might give you some idea of the offensive nature of his comments). The man presented no evidence for his assertions (no surprise there, given that Republicans so often present no credible facts to support their reality-challenged views). He just made unfounded, sweeping generalizations that demeaned and disparaged Mexican immigrants. As if that weren’t enough, Trump thought it a good idea to paint Mexico as the enemy of the United States by claiming “they are not our friend”. That’s a great way to kick off your candidacy. Not only that, but his racist remarks are in stark contrast to the goals of the GOP. In their 2013 Growth and Opportunity Book, the GOP recognized that one of the many reasons they lost the 2012 presidential elections was their inability to reach the Latinx community:
If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies. In the last election, Governor Romney received just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote. Other minority communities, including Asian and Pacific Islander Americans,also view the Party as unwelcoming. President Bush got 44 percent of the Asian vote in 2004; our presidential nominee received only 26 percent in 2012. As one conservative, Tea-Party leader, Dick Armey, told us, “You can’t call someone ugly and expect them to go to the prom with you. We’ve chased the Hispanic voter out of his natural home.” We are not a policy committee, but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, must be to embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only. We also believe that comprehensive immigration reform is consistent with Republican economic policies that promote job growth and opportunity for all. Younger voters are increasingly put off by the GOP. A post-election survey of voters ages 18-29 in the battleground states of Virginia, Ohio, Florida, and Colorado found that Republicans have an almost 1:2 favorable/unfavorable rating. Democrats have an almost 2:1 favorable rating.For the GOP to appeal to younger voters, we do not have to agree on every issue, but we do need to make sure young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view. Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be. If our Party is not welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out. The Party should be proud of its conservative principles, but just because someone disagrees with us on 20 percent of the issues, that does not mean we cannot come together on the rest of the issues where we do agree.recommendations:1. If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them,and show our sincerity.2. As stated above, we are not a policy committee, but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond must be to embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only. We also believe that comprehensive immigration reform is consistent with Republican economic policies that promote job growth and opportunity for all.3. When it comes to social issues, the Party must in fact and deed be inclusive and welcoming. If we are not, we will limit our ability to attract young people and others, including many women, who agree with us on some but not all issues.
If the GOP really wants to reach more of the Hispanic demographic (while I believe they do, they haven’t the faintest clue how; they too out of touch with any group other than old, white, heterosexual, cisgender, Christian men), they could start by repudiating Trump, or better yet, ditching him completely as he’s already proven to be a liability. The GOP doesn’t need someone alienating potential voters this early in the pre-election season. Although I must say I’m fine with that. The more people alienated by the GOP, the more people that may pay attention to the progressive messages of Bernie Sanders, or even his opponent Hillary Clinton.
In any case, you can’t malign and impugn an entire racial or ethnic group without consequences. And while the Donald has the right to say what he wants, he is quickly discovering the repercussions of his racist comments. The fallout took on many forms, beginning with this rebuttal from Adriana Almanza, a Mexican-American woman who took issue with Trump’s racism-laden speech:
“Dear Mr. Donald Trump,” she wrote, “I’d like to take a minute to introduce you to my father, Raul Almanza. As you so eloquently put it, he is one of the many that Mexico ‘sends’ to this country.”
She continued: “Yesterday, I turned 28 years old and I was blessed to have had the opportunity to share my special day with my dad as it was Father’s Day, as well… In fact, yesterday wasn’t about me at all… It was about him. Let me tell you why.”
She went on to explain how 30 or so years ago, Mexico “sent” her father to the United States. She says he came here undocumented. “He worked his ass off in the fields.. traveling from state to state to find work. He helped provide for his parents and 9 siblings back home. And when I was born, he no longer held the title of just a son, brother, provider, and migrant worker- he finally earned the title of Father,” she wrote.
Almanza says her father doesn’t have a formal education, but he always helped her with homework, stressed the importance of education, and exemplified a good work ethic.
“My dad has worked 5-6 days a week since I was a child and I’ve never heard him complain about it one time. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t use drugs. He is certainly not a criminal, rapist, or drug trafficker, as your speech suggested,” Alamanza said, in response to Trump’s offensive generalizations.
She wants trump to know that her dad is “the best” and that she wouldn’t have a bachelor’s and master’s degree without him.
“The best, to me, are those that work hard and still remain humble. That is exactly what my father embodies; that is exactly what the other millions of Mexicans embody. “
She concluded: “Perhaps you should get to know more people like my dad; there are millions just like him. Then, you’d see for yourself .. & instead of bashing Mexico.. you’d thank Mexico.. for sending us their ‘best.’”
Great response. Sadly, I don’t foresee Donald Trump taking any time to get to know any of the millions of immigrants he disparaged. He doesn’t appear to give a rat’s ass how those who are on the receiving end of his racism feel about his disparaging words. Another latina who took justifiable umbrage to his comments was Roselyn Sanchez, the now-former co-host of Miss USA:
“I was very excited and proud to have been invited to participate in Miss USA, but as a Latina, that is now inconceivable,” Sanchez told Billboard. “Although I am not Mexican, I am Puerto Rican and a proud Latina, and his comments were an insult to our culture. I won’t sponsor anything produced by Donald Trump.”
The public outcry over the Donald’s words did not stop there. Popular Spanish language USAmerican television network Univision recently declined to televise the July 12 Miss USA pageant. Citing Trump’s racially inflammatory comments, the network then went a step further and severed its business relationship with the Miss Universe Organization, which is co-owned by NBC Universal and Donald Trump:
Today the entertainment division of Univision Communications Inc. announced that it is ending the Company’s business relationship with the Miss Universe Organization, which is part-owned by Donald J. Trump, based on his recent, insulting remarks about Mexican immigrants. At Univision we see first-hand the work ethic, love for family, strong religious values and the important role Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans have had and will continue to have in building the future of our country. We will not be airing the Miss USA pageant on July 12th or working on any other projects tied to the Trump Organization.
Univision News and the local news division will continue to provide comprehensive coverage of all candidates, including Mr. Trump, to ensure our audience continues to have access to all points of view.
Rather than apologize (bc this is the Donald we’re talking about and I’m likely to turn heterosexual before he apologizes for anything he says or does) Trump got all huffy that anyone would be outraged at his comments, declaring “We’ll be bringing a major lawsuit against Univision for defamation, and also they owe us a lot of money,” Taking to Twitter, Trump decided to continue his unrighteous indignation:
Mexican gov doesn't want me talking about terrible border situation & horrible trade deals. Forcing Univision to get me to stop- no way!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2015
Univision wants to back out of signed @MissUniverse contract because I exposed the terrible trade deals that the U.S. makes with Mexico.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2015
I love Mexico but not the unfair trade deals that the US so stupidly makes with them. Really bad for US jobs, only good for Mexico.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2015
That last Tweet is rich. “Really guys, I love the country whose population I just demeaned. And that whole wall thing I talked about building? It’s because I love Mexico. I’m doing all of this out of love.” Can he really think people are stupid enough to fall for such crap?
Perhaps he’ll rethink this lawsuit as well as his racist-as-fuck comments in light of NBC’s recent decision to terminate their partnership with him:
“At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values,” NBC said in a statement. “Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump.”
The network will no longer air the annual Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants that were part of a joint venture with Trump, the statement added.
Remember, all of this fallout stemmed from the Donald’s comments about Mexican immigrants. He chose to make those demeaning comments, without attempting to verify whether they were true or not. Had he done so, he might have found that while some individual immigrants may be criminals, rapists, or drug dealers, it’s strains belief past the breaking point to believe that of the millions of Mexican immigrants in the United States.
I have to say, I love how this is playing out. Don’t get me wrong, Donald Trump is free to express whatever ignorant, bigoted beliefs he chooses. But just as he has the right to make such comments, so too do his critics have the right to excoriate him as vocally as they want. They have the right to petition NBC to end their affiliation with Trump. The Donald might not regret his words (and he doesn’t), but he is learning that freedom of speech does not come with freedom from the consequences of that speech.