Donald Trump: A Mexican-American's take on businessman's clownish presidential bid

Recently, in Mexico, the candidates for mayor of the Mexican city of Guadalajara included a famous Mexican clown named Lagrimita.

And in the United States, now that Donald Trump has filed the necessary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, the ranks of Republican presidential hopefuls expanded to include an anti-Mexican clown.

“The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems,” Trump said to supporters at Trump Tower where the real estate mogul declared his bid for the GOP nomination. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Given those remarks, it’s too bad we can’t say the same about Trump. As a candidate, he has “lots of problems.” Besides Mexico, the billionaire fired away at China, Japan, South America, and the Middle East. Despite pitching himself as a new kind of candidate, he favors an old fashioned 20th Century protectionism where U.S. companies have to manufacture products within our borders or face confiscatory tariffs and taxes.

As a Mexican-American, it’s easy to take offense at Trump’s comments on Mexico. What’s difficult is taking them seriously.

Consider this a kind of affirmative action for U.S. workers, and a far cry from the no-excuses, highly competitive spirit of Trump’s television show: NBC’s “The Apprentice.”

In some respects, a Trump candidacy promises to be a fun and refreshing break from the ordinary. He criticizes other candidates by name, plays by his own rules, and actually answers questions from journalists — even if the answers are outrageous. 

As a Mexican-American, it’s easy to take offense at Trump’s comments on Mexico. What’s difficult is taking them seriously.

After all, while it’s true that Trump is new to politics, his reputation as a first-rate opportunist precedes him. It’s impossible to know whether he really believes what he’s saying, or just saying it for effect to woo nativists in the GOP — of which there are now, sadly, a sizable number.

The bright spot to Trump’s rant against Mexican immigrants, it may be that it reveals the Devil’s bargain that so many Republicans feel they have to strike to win elective office. Perhaps he believes that, these days, the only way to get ahead in the Republican Party is to throw some rhetorical red meat at the closed borders, closed minds crowd.

Frankly, I’m not worried about Trump and his tantrums. What is of greater concern to me is that there is a whole chorus of 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls who, in January, came
running when Rep. Steve King, perhaps the most anti-immigrant member of Congress, convened an event in Des Moines called the Iowa Freedom Summit. Trump was there. But so was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Ben Carson.

King has suggested using electrified fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border to keep out immigrants because “we do that with livestock all the time” and accused so-called Dreamers, those undocumented young people brought here as children, of being drug mules with “calves the size of cantaloupes.” 

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the establishment favorite, wisely skipped King’s event. Recently, Bush announced his own much more viable presidential bid with a bilingual message welcoming Spanish speakers who value freedom and opportunity.

Yet, there is still a resilient faction of the Republican Party that — thumbing its nose at demographic changes — believes they don’t need diversity and insists they can win the White House with the support of white voters alone.

These hardliners are stuck on stupid. If they were in charge of planning the 2016 Republican National Convention, it wouldn’t be in Cleveland, Ohio as scheduled. It would be in Fantasyland.

If you think the United States is being invaded by people who share an inferior culture, take jobs, commit crimes, lower the U.S. standard of living, and defiantly refuse to learn English and otherwise assimilate into the mainstream, then the GOP has a wide selection of candidates for you.

Trump is one of them. Not that he actually knows what he’s talking about. The fact that he could get through a mini-diatribe on people emigrating to the United States without mentioning that they’re being welcomed by U.S. employers — among them farmers, ranchers, hoteliers, restauranteurs, construction firms, and the American homeowner — proves that, despite his knack for self-promotion, for the latest Republican to enter the presidential race, immigration is just another big word.

By the way, in the Guadalajara mayoral race, Lagrimita the Clown came up short, losing to another candidate named Enrique Alfaro. His U.S. counterpart is likely to suffer the same fate.

But, for now, every election needs a punchline. Mr. Trump, you’re perfect for the job. To borrow a phrase: You’re hired.