There has been much conversation among political pundits, including some Latino leaders, about the “Trump Effect.”
Many believe the unprecedented level of insult and racial bias espoused by Donald Trump toward Latinos, particularly Mexicans, will result in overwhelming increases in Latino turnout in November. Some commentators estimate the increase could be as much as 17 percent. In my opinion, these arguments are based on two false assumptions:
- Latinos are a monolithic group that responds in the same way to all political events.
- Reinforcing feelings of stigma in marginal groups creates anger, rather than despair.
This popular narrative assumes every Latino who feels insulted will absorb the insult in the same way. What this narrative overlooks is that one-third of Latinos in the U.S. are not of Mexican origin. Latinos who are of other national origins, myself included, are aware that insults to Mexicans often are applied to them as well. Yet, as I show in my book, “Latino Politics,” these different origins and migration histories affect how Latinos interpret and respond to attacks on different parts of their community.
This narrative also ignores the ongoing, destructive effects of being a member of a marginalized group within U.S. society. These negative experiences affect Latinos’ attitudes toward politics and political engagement. People often lament low levels of Latino turnout, such as the fact that only 48 percent of eligible Latino voters turned out to vote in 2012. These turnout numbers most often are framed as an individual failure of Latinos, rather than as a reflection of how Latinos, as a group, are socialized into U.S. politics.