It wasn’t a question of if, but when. When would demographics become destiny for political candidates hoping to lead an increasingly diverse America, and require outreach more than a photo op with a taco bowl?
‘When’ has not yet arrived.
Despite the Republican Party’s calls for reconciliation with minorities after a 2012 presidential loss, President-elect Donald Trump used a different winning strategy. From the start of his campaign, he disrespected Hispanics, Muslims, African-Americans, women and nearly every group except whites.
Though it wasn’t a deal breaker for the voters who turned out, it was for many black and brown folks who make up much of the working class that was deemed Trump’s army. Their families also struggle. Yet though their numbers were down from Obama-era totals, most did not join their white working-class brothers and sisters in the revolution.
The day after, many must be wondering why it was so easy for Trump supporters to buy into his vague plans to “make America great again,” which have included not only jobs, but also, expanded “stop and frisk” and Muslim bans.
In victory, Trump pledged to be “president for all Americans.” What about advisers with white nationalist ties who may want payback after eight years of Barack Obama, the president whose citizenship Trump long denied?
But ‘when’ may be coming. California GOP Gov. Pete Wilson was re-elected after supporting Proposition 187, a 1994 ballot initiative that blocked public services from undocumented immigrants. However, Wilson’s short-term gain motivated young and minority voters, leading to a blue California and, as of Tuesday, a new senator: Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat with a Jamaican-American and Indian American background. Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto is the nation’s first Latina senator and Oregon’s Kate Brown the first openly LGBT governor elected.
Hillary Clinton’s failure with parts of the Obama coalition sunk her chances. How will Trump’s GOP maintain and expand a fragile coalition of its own?
Roll Call columnist Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun and The Charlotte Observer. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.