Yesterday, politically savvy Bwogger Tamara Barriot took time to assess whether “The Donald” means what he says about getting the Latino vote. As refreshing as discussing the viewpoints of our two political idols can be, this was not Tamara’s first rodeo. Any debate regarding Donald Trump’s care for Latinos will likely spark controversy, and yesterday’s was no exception.
Recently, the British newspaper The Telegraph referred to the 2016 election as “America’s unpopularity concert,” and yesterday’s full day event “Decision 2016/Yo Decido” hosted by Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in conjunction with Noticias Telemundo went further to prove that point.
The scheduled 10:30 panel discussion, “Trump vs. Clinton: The Battle for the Latino Vote,” soon turned into a pointless debate, much like the actual presidential debate last Monday. Surprisingly (but perhaps fortuitously), 2/3 of the registered attendees were absent.
Jose Diaz-Balart (anchor at Notices Telemundo and the panel moderator) began the discussion by asking the panel to speak on how each candidate planned to acquire Latino votes. Helen Aguirre-Ferre (Spokesperson for Hispanic RNC and Trump supporter) promptly answered that the Republican Party was building a Latino community within the GOP, incorporating them in broader ways than in the past. Aguirre-Ferro added that the Democrats take the Latino vote for granted, a belief which fundamentally undermines the political system.
Freddy Balsera (Democratic strategist/Clinton supporter) began his response by explaining the method by which Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign in Florida had gotten Latino votes, but before he could finish, he was cut-off by Aguirre-Ferre who established that Republicans had crushed the 2014 mid-year elections.
Before a true discussion could emerge from that exchange, Diaz-Balart steered the conversation into the topic of the millennial Latino vote and how the Republican x-ray looked completely different to the one presented at the 2012 elections. Aguirre-Ferre proceeded to talk about how the American people wanted someone who rejected the status quo in Washington and stood against the establishment, just like Donald Trump (or like Bernie Sanders).
Balsera agreed with her, saying that a market for Bernie Sanders was a vehicle for expressing something that was fundamentally wrong since 2008. However, he added, Trump was not the correct candidate for addressing this problems because he insulted people. At this point the panel spun into a 10 minute he said/no he didn’t say “Miss Piggy” discussion (in reference to Alicia Machado and the 1996 Miss Universe competition).
Aguirre-Ferre pointedly stated that people get turned off by politics precisely because no important subjects are covered, like in the presidential debate where no time was allotted to speak about student loans or public policy. This brought up the issue that immigration is not only a Latino issue but an American issue, at which point the panel turned into a discussion about the potential of “Trump’s wall” and whether Mexico would actually be forced to pay for it. Again, Trump’s constant insults were mentioned. Aguirre-Ferro attempted to make the point that Hillary’s public policy would increase debt even more and that Obama, not Trump, was responsible for racial intolerance, since he’d fail to bring the country together. To this, Balsera answered by citing statistics on how unemployment had gone down 4.1% under Obama and how Hillary’s plan for profit-sharing corporations and reduced student loans would help the economy.
Aguirre-Ferre countered this argument by citing a poll that said 70% Americans thought things had gotten worse in the last few years. Then Balsera asked for a description of Trump’s plan for fixing this, saying all the candidate had done in the past was buy federal employees to lobby for him. This resulted in the panel spinning off into a third discussion on Trump’s and Clinton’s separate foundations.
Thankfully, Diaz-Balart cut this short by asking Aguirre-Ferre point-blank what for Trump’s presidential qualifications. She listed that he was a successful businessman, was open to new ideas, and was a job-creator with hands-on experience. Balsera then listed Clinton’s qualifications: she was a Senator during 9/11, a negotiator of both peace and trade agreements, and a former Secretary of State. (This mention of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State led into bickering that went back and forth about Clinton’s e-mails and Trump’s unfiled tax returns.)
The panel then opened to questions, most of them from a rather displeased Latino audience directed at Aguirre-Ferre. Unfortunately, nearly all of the answers she gave were evasive, either directing the subject back to Clinton or giving a partial answer.
All in all, the sad affair lasted barely over an hour, so if you registered and didn’t attend, you didn’t miss anything new or enlightening. We’ve heard this debate a hundred times before, and while the setting and stage were professional, the debate boiled down to a very simple point: does Trump care for Latinos? And if Trump’s rhetoric over the past year is any indication, the answer to that point is shockingly clear.
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