Monica Lozano, former publisher of La Opinión, discussed the 2016 presidential race from a Latino perspective during a talk at the Ronald Tutor Campus Center hosted by the USC Price School of Public Policy’s Tomas Rivera Policy Institute.
Lozano worked for 30 years at La Opinión, which was founded by her grandfather and became the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the United States. She also served on the USC Board of Trustees and is currently a member of the Board of Regents for the University of California.
Professor Roberto Suro, director of the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, led the discussion, which was sponsored by the USC Price Latino Student Association, USC El Centro Chicano and USC Graduate Student Government.
“Presidential campaigns oblige us to reflect on where we are as a nation, a society and a university, and Monica Lozano was an ideal person to help start that conversation, given her great stature as a Latino leader and her long connection to USC,” Suro said.
Addressing anti-Latino sentiment
Much of the talk focused on an anti-Latino sentiment coming out of this Republican primary cycle, particularly from Donald Trump.
“I think it’s deeply ingrained in a sense of loss and a sense of fear,” Lozano said. “It’s a small minority, and at the end of this, I don’t think that’s the wave that can carry you to victory in a presidential race.”
Trump’s inflammatory remarks in regard to Latino immigrants haven’t stopped him from being among the leaders in the polls, but Lozano noted that pressure from the Latino community did lead to NBC firing Trump as host of The Celebrity Apprentice and ending involvement with his Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants.
“I do think there have been consequences,” Lozano said. “Really, the question is why does it have traction?”
Lozano believes that Trump’s policy statements about building a wall between Mexico and the United States and deporting undocumented immigrants with little to no amnesty will be a big motivator for mobilization of the Latino vote, calling it this generation’s Prop 187.
Meanwhile, Lozano noted that this election marks the first time there is a viable Latino presidential candidate, and there happens to be two in senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), both of whom are conservative Republicans.
“It’s interesting that they’re both of Latino descent, but neither has opted to run as Latino candidates or represent the Latino agenda,” Lozano said. “It’s good to have Latino representatives on both sides of the aisle. It’s good for us to have a Republican party who will cultivate Latino candidates. The fact that there’s a spectrum of opinion is very important.”
Lozano proclaimed that the most Latino-friendly GOP candidate has actually been Jeb Bush, who met his wife when he was teaching English in Mexico in 1970. Bush is fluent in Spanish, and his three children consider themselves Latino.
A debate between whomever is the Democratic candidate and Jeb Bush would move this back to the middle from where it is today.
“A debate between whomever is the Democratic candidate and Jeb Bush would move this back to the middle from where it is today,” Lozano said.
Lozano also discussed her own background, including how she approached being a woman of color in business leadership roles. She is on the board of directors for the Walt Disney Co., Bank of America and the Rockefeller Foundation. She also recently helped launch a Latinos and Society Program at the Aspen Institute.
“It’s not always a welcoming space, but you have to tell yourself there’s a reason you were invited,” Lozano said. “You’re not there to be like them. You’re there because you have a voice and a perspective, and you need to remind yourself to own that and not be afraid that you need to fit in or be like them.”
Students in attendance had the opportunity to ask Lozano questions for more than half an hour.
“Having her here means so much,” said Mario Enriquez, a second-year MPA student who serves as co-chair for the Price Latino Student Association. “I enjoyed her take on politics, particularly how she believes in bipartisanship and sees value in Republicans and Democrats working together. What really stood out was when she talked about the authenticity of being grounded in who she is, which is not only good advice in the boardroom but anywhere you go in life.”