[lg policy] Arizona:GOP candidates create new language, "American"
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Mon Oct 19 15:13:15 UTC 2015
Column: GOP candidates create new language, "American", confound nation
By Jacob Winkelman <http://www.wildcat.arizona.edu/staff/jacob-winkelman> |
Published 09/28/15 11:25am
As if calls for deportation and border fences along Mexico and Canada
weren’t already sinking Republican chances of winning over Latino voters in
2016, Republican candidates have recently begun championing a new line of
rhetoric concerning the national language of the United States.
To be clear, the U.S. doesn’t have an official language. Various movements
have tried over the years to grant English the honor, but so far none have
been successful, and English, Spanish, Mandarin and every other language
remain equally unofficial.
Carly Fiorina, candidate for president, mistakenly identified English as
the official language in a recent television interview. Although this isn’t
a huge deal, it still seems like something someone running for the most
powerful job in the world should know.
What may become problematic for the Republican Party is that Fiorina’s
gaffe was just the beginning.
Donald Trump criticized Jeb Bush for speaking Spanish at campaign rallies
and Sarah Palin declared on national television that people should “speak
American” in this country. It’s these comments, in addition to constant
calls for deportation from Republican candidates, that lead many to believe
the GOP may struggle quite a bit with Latino voters in 2016.
In a recent MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist poll, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic
frontrunner, led Donald Trump, the current Republican frontrunner, 69-22
percent among Latino voters. Despite winning 44 percent of the Hispanic
vote in 2004, the Republican Party has since seen a steep decline in
support from Hispanics, a phenomenon that can be partly attributed to their
far right positions on immigration.
What’s more problematic than the general inaccuracy surrounding U.S.
language policy is the way in which candidates for president are so quick
to label anything other than English as un-American. The U.S. has long
toted its “Melting Pot” demographics and the diversity that separates it
from other Western countries. A country supposedly rooted in a foundation
of freedom would in theory fight to preserve the right of its citizens to
speak their language of choice.
Whether or not the language mishap actually impacts the election remains to
be seen. But what has become clear is that the Spanish debate is just the
beginning to the GOP’s problems with minority outreach and their quest to
secure the presidency.
In addition to alienating minority voters, Trump’s spat with Univision, Ben
Carson declaring that he wouldn’t support a Muslim president and Ted Cruz
still running on opposition to same sex marriage, leave the GOP counting on
unprecedented amounts of white support to offset the skepticism from
In a 2012 “autopsy” of the GOP commissioned by the Republican Party itself,
repeated suggestions were made for the GOP to soften its rhetoric and
appeal to more minority groups. With shifting demographics toward an
increase in minorities, the Republican Party will eventually have no choice
but to reform its policies.
As the election continues, the issues of immigration, police brutality and
healthcare will keep reappearing, only further hurting the GOP chances with
minority voters. Even if a Republican who hasn’t made such inflammatory
comments, such as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio or Lindsey Graham, wins the
nomination, the Democrats should and probably will knock the GOP candidate
for their party’s past rhetoric.
Comments about the national language probably wouldn’t matter as much if
they weren’t shrouded in talk about deportation, amnesty or lack thereof
and “Americanness.” Nationalism, jingoism and racism have been a part of
American politics since this nation’s inception. Hopefully the ballot box
in 2016 can send a forceful message and put these dangerous and ignorant
sentiments behind us.
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