Why Hillary Clinton’s abuela campaign backfired with Latino voters

Hillary Clinton wants to win the Latino vote. And that’s not a bad thing. Endeavoring to run a kindly, inclusive campaign is much more noble than running a divisive, fear-mongering one.

But the Latino vote isn’t a real thing any more than the white vote is. Latinos aren’t a monolithic group that rally around a single issue…unless the issue is grandma.

Grandma is sacred. Grandma is untouchable. And Hillary Clinton just learned that the hard way when she published an ill-advised listicle on her webpage Tuesday comparing herself to a Latina abuela.

7 things Hillary Clinton has in common with your abuela” was an attempt to further hone Hillary’s image as a matriarch for the country. But it immediately backfired as “hispandering” by Latinos who are calling for a campaign focused on real issues—immigration reform, jobs, healthcare, housing, security—and not a tone-deaf appeal to cultural heritage.

The abuela article starts with the toe-curlingly bad assertion that Hillary “isn’t afraid to talk about the importance of el respeto.” It goes downhill from there.

Latino Rebels says after the opening declaration, it “spirals into a pit of Hispandering despair.”

At the bottom of that pit is this gem.

Everybody loves abuela—even this guy.

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Fusion reached out to the Clinton campaign for comment on the social media backlash, but didn’t receive an immediate response.

Since her first presidential bid in 2008, Clinton has become a doting grandmother who frequently talks about her granddaughter on the hustings.

The granny thing was hammered home in Clinton’s closing statements during last Saturday’s Democratic debate in New Hampshire:

“You know, I became a grandmother 15 months ago, and so I spent a lot of time thinking about my granddaughter’s future. But as president, I will spend even more time thinking about the futures of all the kids and the grandchildren in this country because I want to make sure every single child has a chance to live up to his or her God-given potential.”

The abuela listicle was an attempt to adapt that message to a different audience. Unfortunately for the Clinton campaign, its failure went viral.

The hastags #NotMyAbuela #NotMyGrandma and other variations of the same trended on Twitter all night.

The criticism is understandable. It’s hard to imagine a campaign publishing a similar listicle pandering to other groups “7 ways Hillary is like your bobeshi“, or “7 ways Hillary is like your 祖母”

That stuff just doesn’t work. And it shouldn’t.

Everybody loves grandma, but few of us want to put her in charge of free world (although I, for one, would much rather have grandma in office than grandpa). The point is, we’re electing a president, not an ancestral forebearer.

So leave abue out of this.

 

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