Latinos who vote against Clinton are repeating bad history

by Mario T. García

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Although the large majority of Latinos, according to polls, are supporting Hillary Clinton in the election against Donald Trump, there are still some, especially young people who "felt the Bern" and supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries, who may be holding back despite Sanders' call for his supporters to vote for Clinton. Some may be looking at alternatives such as the Green Party. But they are mistaken. Not to vote for Hillary is to, in effect, vote for Trump. They may harbor suspicions and even dislike of Clinton, but the stakes are too high not to vote for her.

Trump represents a significant threat to American democracy, and the racist, nativist and even fascist aspects of his campaign manifest themselves more and more. His campaign now is being run by self-proclaimed extremists aligned with the Alt-Right movement that call for this country to be "white" again. Given this threat, one cannot sit out this election or seriously consider an alternative. There is no alternative.

The idea of not voting for Hillary reminds me of the 1972 election, when Chicanos as part of a third-party movement, La Raza Unida Party, refused to support Sen. George McGovern against President Richard Nixon. Their decision was made under the false notion stressed by Corky Gonzales, one of the movement leaders, that the Republicans and Democrats represented a two-headed monster. One was as bad as the other. But that wasn't true. McGovern was not Nixon, and the Democrats were not Republicans. McGovern was against the U.S. war in Vietnam, the same war that was killing many Chicanos, and the Democrats were the party of civil rights.

Of course, Nixon won in a landslide, meaning that the Chicano vote would not have played a major role in the election regardless. However, what the issue was and what was wrong was a naïve or at least simplistic idea that there were no differences between the two major parties. There was, and in retrospect Chicanos should have supported and voted for McGovern. The same applies now. The gulf between Clinton and Trump is immense, and it is in Latinos' self-interest to vote for Hillary -- and at a minimum vote against Trump who will attempt to build that wall, which is symbolic not only with respect to immigration, but shows how he would attempt to wall in the rest of us in what would become the closest to a fascist government this country would ever -- but hopefully never -- see.

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