Why Some Latinx Communities Voted Trump 2020

President Trump often spews anti-Latinx rhetoric, so why do some members of the community still support him–even now?

When TikTok star Amanda Fago went on live for her near-3 million followers on Election Day, her comments section suddenly flooded with calls to cancel her. She was filming at a Trump-themed election party, where people in attendance mocked the Black Lives Matter movement (don’t be too offended–she and her party-mates live in the receptacle that is Staten Island) and barked racial slurs from across the room.

For Gen Z–the largest demographic of users on TikTok, and who collectively represent the most socially progressive generation yet–Fago’s warm “Auntie” image, in which she fully embraces her bisexuality (and the identities of her young fans) and, more pertinently, her Puerto Rican heritage, seemed at odds with the company she kept that night, and the candidate they were supporting.

After all, Trump has targeted Latinx communities throughout his presidency: In 2015, he called Mexicans rapists and drug traffickers; in 2018, he implemented tax cuts that overtly favored white families over Latinx ones; his administration’s failure to contain the spread of the pandemic has reportedly caused disproportionate harm to Latinx Americans; and, lest we forget, he threw rolls of paper towels at displaced Puerto Rican families after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

Despite this, some members of the Latinx community, like Fago, have chosen to stand behind the president, even today. Florida exit polls, for example, show that 47% of Trump’s voters identify as Latinx, second only in representation to white voters–leaving many to wonder: how could this be?

Fear of communism

Historically, Democratic presidents in America–more often than their Republican counterparts–have developed socialist programs, from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal following the Great Depression to Bill Clinton’s reformations on welfare programs in the ‘90s, as financial safety nets.

But for some Cubans, for example, who escaped Fidel Castro’s decades-long regime, such programs represent government overreach. And memories of a crumbling, communist Cuba forged deep-seated distrust of governmental intervention — a perfect storm that surely stoked support for the traditionally Republican precept of smaller federal government.

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Racism

Earlier this year, editors of The Miami Herald published an op-ed, arguing some Latinx communities had failed “to grapple with anti-Blackness that exists in our own community.” They continued,

“We have remained silent when our tias have encouraged us to partner with people who have lighter skin than we do so we can mejorar la raza (improve the race). We have hated ourselves for our skin color, hair texture, our curves and our accents. Our faith traditions, the schools we attend, the families we love, the music we listen to are anchored in Blackness and our indigenous roots, but we obscure that with whiteness.”

As of September, 66% of Hispanic/Latinx Americans support the BLM movement, leaving a third of the population more likely to align with GOP rhetoric about the organization, which paints BLM as anarchist and “un-American” — and perhaps to some, unworthy of attention or support.

The takeaway

The Latinx community cannot be treated as a monolith. In an interview with NowThis Politics, political strategist and former Bernie Sanders advisor Chuck Rocha (who is of Mexican descent) says the community’s microcosms differ vastly in their values:

“There’s the Puerto Ricans who [are] totally different than the Cubans, which, there’s 800,000 of them in [Florida] and they supported Donald Trump at only about 20% while Cubans supported Donald Trump at almost 59%. They’re in the same state. They’re both Caribbean Latinos, and you could drive a car three hours to be in the population center of both. And they act totally different.”

Written by

culture writer and creative based in NYC | IG & Twitter: @iamthomasford | he/him

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