Democrats must not take Latinos for granted

Democrats must not take Latinos for granted
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Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Kaine: GOP senators should 'at least' treat Trump trial with seriousness of traffic court Louise Linton, wife of Mnuchin, deletes Instagram post in support of Greta Thunberg MORE is making a bid to shore up Hispanic evangelical support for his reelection campaign in the wake of a scathing editorial in a leading Christian newspaper calling for the removal of the “morally lost and confused” president.

Trump will visit one of the largest Hispanic evangelical churches in the country on Friday in an effort both to reinvigorate his support among evangelicals and make a bid for more support among what will be the biggest minority voting population in 2020.

But will it work?

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As a Latina, I have always held that the more the political parties compete for the Latino vote, the better it is for Latinos, for the parties and for the country.

Under President George W. Bush, Republicans did a tremendous job of speaking to Latinos with relevancy and respect. They understood that Republicans cannot grow into a long-term majority party without additional support from Latinos.

That lasted into 2012, even after Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyKaine: GOP senators should 'at least' treat Trump trial with seriousness of traffic court Des Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Romney: 'It's very likely I'll be in favor of witnesses' in Trump impeachment trial MORE alienated Latinos with his anti-immigration rhetoric and lost the presidency. Post-election, the Republican National Committee authored its famous “autopsy,” which stated that the party had to do a much better job of reaching out to women and minorities, especially Latinos.

Enter Donald J. Trump. All hopes of gaining additional support in the Latino community vanished with Trump’s zealous anti-immigrant stances, rhetoric and policies. 

Trump’s clear strategy was to ignore minority voters and instead try to maximize the older, white evangelical vote.

But after three years of Trump in office – after three years of hateful rhetoric, indecency and indefensible conduct – some white evangelicals are rejecting him as out of step with their values.

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Clearly, these evangelicals are not the majority, since Trump still enjoys broad evangelical support. But importantly, any reduction in Trump's evangelical support could spell disaster, so he is also going after the types of evangelicals he needs additional support from if he is to win reelection in 2020.

So back to the question of whether Trump’s overtures to Hispanics, including Hispanic evangelicals, will work.

I highly doubt it.

What Trump has done to denigrate, denounce, defile and debase Latinos in this country is having an irrevocable effect, not just on support from Latinos for Trump but support from Latinos for the Republican Party in general.

In the latest Latino Decisions research, Trump is stuck at 19 percent support among Latinos. But according Albert Morales of Latino Decisions, the most concerning part of what is going on with the Latino electorate for Republicans should be the finding that 45 percent of Latinos will never consider voting for a Republican again. For perspective, just 18 percent of Latinos said the same thing about the GOP when Mitt Romney was its presidential nominee.

This disparity should come as no surprise given that the head of the Republican Party and the president of the United States implements a policy that separates babies from their parents at the border simply for seeking asylum. (Hundreds of children have been lost and may never be reunited with their parents.)

It should come as no surprise when a shooter drives 600 miles and guns down 22 Americans of Latino descent to get rid of the “Latino invasion” using rhetoric inspired by Trump’s own words.

It should come as no surprise when a white Iowa woman mows down a young 14-year-old girl simply because she “was a Mexican.” 

It should come as no surprise when the president equates those fighting for social justice, equality and against hatred with those pushing a white supremacist agenda.

These things are not coincidences and do not happen in a vacuum. These actions are the result of a leader who has encouraged hatred, division and violence against those who look different than his preferred white Anglo-Saxon heritage. 

None of this has been lost on Latino voters. They know they are not welcome in Trump’s America. They know their children are not safe from bullies chanting “Build the wall!” at schools or playgrounds. They know they must think twice before speaking in their native tongue if they happen to be in a Trump state. 

Latinos know and feel that this is not the America or the dream that either they or their parents or grandparents fought to come to in order to build a better life. They know America’s promise is for everyone, not just the people Trump sees as the “best people.”

But they also know that America’s promise and her dream will never be fulfilled or fully attainable for them as long as Trump is in the White House and as long as Republicans are in lockstep and in a mind meld with his morally bankrupt values and pernicious policies.

That is why 2020 is so important for Latino voters. And that is why Trump’s attempts to attract Latinos will be futile.

There are more eligible voting Latinos in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan than the margins Trump won by in those states. They can make the difference.

That’s why Democrats cannot take anything for granted and need to fight like hell to ensure Latinos know they have a home in their party.

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.