Trump campaign's taco truck gaffe underscores Latinos' political power

“My culture is a very dominant culture,” proclaimed Mexican-born Marco Gutierrez on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes,” last week. Gutierrez, who is the co-founder of Latinos for Trump, added, “If you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner.” The #TacoTrucksOnEveryCorner, created to mock Gutierrez’s “warning,” was the No. 1 trending hashtag on Twitter the following morning.

See, food culture and politics are interconnected. On campaign trails in the Southwest, the breakfast food of choice is a breakfast taco -- a palm full of God’s greatness in the form of a scrambled egg, cheese, and chorizo wrapped in a tortilla that could only improve a morning at the typical political campaign office. When most people think of breakfast burritos, they also think of the corner taco truck, which has become one of the fastest growing trends in the food industry, particularly with Mexican or Latino cuisine. Gutierrez’s fear-mongering attempt and the latest mishap from the Trump campaign depicted an abundance of taco trucks, which would never pose a problem and would be “like a dream come true” instead.

Consequently, national campaigns were once again reminded of the key role Latinos and Latino culture play within our nation’s politics. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Shontel Brown wins Ohio Democratic primary in show of establishment strength READ: Cuomo's defense against sexual harassment investigation MORE has spent time assembling a top notch team of Latino professionals to get her message across. Her ads in Spanish targeting critical electoral states will inundate tv to further pledge and secure solidarity with our community. People will continuously hear about her running mate, Senator Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Police officer killed in violence outside Pentagon | Biden officials back repeal of Iraq War authorization | NSC pushed to oversee 'Havana Syndrome' response The infrastructure bill creates more need for workforce training Biden officials back repealing Iraq War authorization MORE and his Jesuit missionary trip to Honduras as a 22 year-old where he learned to speak Spanish. These strategized ingredients have helped Hillary take over 70 percent of the latino vote in battleground states, which will give her the upper hand on Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Missouri Rep. Billy Long enters Senate GOP primary Trump-backed Mike Carey wins GOP primary in Ohio special election MORE.

But even though most of the press is focusing on the presidential election, there are other races showing how the Latino vote will influence many changes in Congress. For example, for the first time in the history of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), a Latino was appointed chairman. Congressman Ben Ray Lujan from New Mexico has positioned the committee to make gains with Democrats and Latinos in Congress. With Donald Trump as the Republican nominee, the DCCC has the opportunity to grow the number of Democratic influence which include Latinos like Pete Gallego in TX-23 and Joe Garcia in FL-26.

The power and organization of the Latino vote is also present within the Congressional Hispanic Caucus through catalyst Linda Sanchez who has played an integral role in advocating for more Latino presence in Congress. She played a crucial role in Nanette Barragan’s advancement to the general election in California’s 44th Congressional district - a majority Latino district currently represented by departing Congresswoman Janice Hahn. Then there is CHC’s Leadership Political Action Committee, or more commonly known as the BOLD PAC. They have heavily weighed in on this year’s Democratic primaries to ensure that Latinos have a voice in various districts. The firebrand Latino Congressman Tony Cardenas, who represents California’s 29th Congressional District, heads the BOLD PAC. With his leadership, BOLD PAC has helped win key primaries in districts with a growing concentration of Latinos. For example, BOLD PAC gave ample support to State Senator Darren Soto, the only Latino candidate running in a race to replace Congressman Alan GraysonAlan Mark GraysonFlorida Rep. Val Demings officially enters Senate race against Rubio Demings raises Democrats' hopes in uphill fight to defeat Rubio Demings planning to run for Senate instead of Florida governor MORE. Last week, he won the primary and is positioned to become the first Puerto Rican elected to Congress. The BOLD PAC has also helped ensure primary victories for Salud Carbajal in CA-24 and Lou Correa CA-46.

It is evident that the ever-growing Latino population is heavily influencing and changing our government. This year, Latinos are positioned to pick up at least five more Congressional seats, with the opportunity to pick up as many as eleven total. Perhaps we should thank Gutierrez for unintentionally reminding us of our love for taco trucks but most importantly, for once highlighting the powerful influence that Latinos and their culture have in the future of our government.

Rocha is the president of Solidarity Strategies, a Latino-owned political consulting firm. Follow him on Twitter @ChuckRocha


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