OPED: Trump's appeal is based on racism

Tribune News Service

I started my voting life as a registered Republican. When I turned 18, my dad took me to register to vote. He was a Republican. My mother was an independent and a member of her union. We had heated political discussions in my household. I like to say we had politics for breakfast.

Donald Trump is critical of the PGA Tour for its decision to take its World Golf Championship event from his Doral course near Miami to Mexico.

The Republican Party my dad belonged to is not the same party we see today under Donald Trump. My dad's party was the party of Ronald Reagan, the president who gave amnesty to many people in 1986, a sweeping act that made my paternal grandmother a citizen. At some point, my father switched his party affiliation. Now both my parents are registered Democrats.

When Trump declared that Mexico sends its worst people to the United States, calling them "rapists" and criminals, I thought about my hardworking family members. They worked for Maytag and John Deere in Iowa. They fought in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. They went to Iraq and Afghanistan. Their offspring have become nurses, doctors, teachers, school psychologists, lawyers, paralegals and policemen. They work in finance, for nonprofits and have run for office.

Now Trump has come out against U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, declaring that because the judge is a Mexican-American, he is not fit to preside over a lawsuit against the defunct Trump University. He claims the judge will surely be biased by Trump's plans to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.

Trump is a blatant bigot and, frankly, not a nice person. He is not fit to serve as president of the United States and not someone who should have access to weapons of mass destruction. He has alienated people all over the world, including Muslims and women, and even mocked a person with disabilities.

Trump will not even release his tax information. This should be a red flag. There is a reason he is against documents being revealed in the Trump University suit. The media has a responsibility to force this issue out in the open. Show us your papers, Trump. Or are you afraid?

What Trump's candidacy has revealed, along with much else, is that racism is alive and well in the United States. He has even unleashed violence at his political rallies. I was at his rally in Janesville, Wis. Most of the thousands of people who came could not get in. The police broke up supporters and protesters when things got heated. A young woman was pepper-sprayed in the face by a Trump supporter, and the police quickly acted to assist her and to wash out her eyes.

I know racism is alive and well, and I see it every day in how justice is meted out differently to people from different ethnic backgrounds. We have much work to do. We are at a tipping point in many ways. Where we go next is crucial for the country and the world.

— Angie Trudell Vasquez is a Mexican-American poet, writer, performer and activist who lives in Madison, Wisconsin.