Despite the importance of the Latinx vote, Latino outreach is still not where it should be. From failing to understand that we’re not a monolith to solely focusing on immigration, campaigns still haven’t figured out how to speak to Latinxs. In turn, it ends up appearing more like Hispandering – that is, pandering to Latinxs – instead of addressing us in an authentic way.
The 2020 presidential candidates are not exempt from this. This year, in the very packed Democratic field, several candidates have had embarrassing gaffes. And because we’re sure that there will be more to come, we’ve created a running list of the worst Hispandering moments this election season. Check them out below.
Editor’s Note: This article will be updated to include new entries.
Badly translated sites
Having a Spanish-language version of your site is a good thing, and we definitely encourage it. This shows that candidates care about engaging Spanish speakers.
What we don’t advise is that you just copy and paste the English-language text into Google Translate because it’ll be a big old mess. And while we can’t say this is what went down, we do know some of the sites were bad. Since many outlets called them out, some candidates have fixed their sites, which means that there are now some well written Spanish-language campaign sites out there.
Awkward uses of Spanish
Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke speaks as Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Elizabeth Warren during the first night of the Democratic presidential debate on June 26, 2019 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
On the first night of the Democratic debates, Beto O’Rourke set the tone for the night: We were going to be in for some awkward uses of Spanish. This was followed up by Cory Booker, who also decided to sprinkle in some Spanish during the night. This became a huge topic of conversation online, as people wondered why they had randomly switched to Spanish.
Speaking Spanish is a positive, because it means they can connect to a larger number of people, but it should be employed more thoughtfully.
Jokes about learning Spanish
While the Spanish didn’t go over well with many viewers, Marianne Williamson decided to make a joke, stating she needed to learn Spanish by the next day when she would join the debate. The comment may seem harmless, but it further shows that candidates do not always earnestly try to connect with the Latinx community.
"Hasta la victoria siempre"
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stands for the Pledge of Allegiance during a dedication ceremony for the new Statue of Liberty Museum, May 16, 2019 on Liberty Island in New York City. De Blasio announced on Thursday morning that he is launching a campaign for the presidency. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
When visiting Miami, Bill de Blasio lent his support to the airport workers protesting low wages and working conditions. “The eyes of the world are on this airport, the eyes of the world are on Miami-Dade — and we are not going to let these workers down,” he said before fumbling. “Hasta la victoria siempre!”
Those last four words, attributed to Che Guevara, ended up souring his visit. In a city that has as big a Cuban population as Miami, using the words of Guevara, who was closely tied to Fidel Castro, is a complete blunder.