At a bar located in Santa Ana, CA (a city with a Hispanic population that hovers around 78%), you can simultaneously numb your fears of a Trump presidential nomination and actively protest his campaign by ordering a shot of Illegal Mezcal. According to Gustavo Arellano of the OC Weekly, Illegal will “donate money to immigrants’-rights groups if you post a picture to social media with the hashtag #AShotAtDonald.” Similar anti-Trump drinking opportunities have popped up in Chicago too, where the Latin American-inspired brewery, 5 Rabbit Cervecería, added fuel to the fire with a “Chinga Tu Pelo” brew (translation: “Fuck Your Hair”).
As Trump’s stump speeches have devolved into unapologetic bigotry—with a particularly crude and ruthless attitude towards the immigrant Hispanic population—grassroots campaigns like the ones above have been used to counteract his prejudice.
— Ilegal Mezcal (@IlegalMezcal) March 13, 2016
There’s a well-established tradition of restaurants and brands creating food products that pay homage to political candidates, like the recent Bernie Sanders ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s CEO Ben Cohen. But Trump’s brand of politics has transformed food—the great democratizer—into a weapon used against him. There are jabs about the shortcomings of his “commander-in-chief” at hot-dog stands, but even stranger still, a gonzo social-media debate about the toupéed candidate’s alleged anti-taco sensibilities. On Twitter, you’ll find a stream of tweets cautioning people that a vote from Trump is essentially the death knell for tacos in America:
The “Vote for Tacos, not Trump” idea reached fever pitch with a viral clip of an eight-year-old boy proclaiming that he hates Trump because “Donald Trump hates Mexicans—and Mexicans make tacos.” To call this tortilla-inspired advocacy a movement would be validating a half-baked idea. But even if it has no real political legs, it does suggest the carnal power the taco holds over Americans. A couple of unauthorized notices taped to Texas restaurants—stating their refusal to serve Trump advocates because, as they point out, “You can’t have your taco and eat it too”—have also touched a larger nerve: There is something immensely satisfying about the potential strength of a taco to overthrow America’s number-one menace.
Trump’s stance on Muslim immigration has prompted others to invoke similar ideas about Halal food—he must not have ever eaten at the lamb-and-rice cart near his tower, the thinking goes, or else he’d never want to deport Arabs. On a surface level, a vote against Trump based on the assumption that he doesn’t like tacos enough to care about Mexicans is good pub banter—a reminder of food as a cultural touchstone that brings people together. But focusing on food is disturbingly reductive; in many ways, the argument stoops to Trump’s level of valuing non-white populations for their services, including “taco-making skills,” rather than opening up a more meaningful conversation about their broader contributions to society.
We asked Arellano what he thought about this complicated strain of anti-Trump sentiment. For him, the “Trump Taco Wars” are indicative of farcical nature of our political process: “I know there are far more people who love tacos than love Trump, and I also know there are many Trump supporters who love tacos. If people only voted with their stomachs instead of their feeble minds, we’d have the Doritos Locos taco in the White House—and frankly, it’d do a better job than any of the candidates.“
Here’s hoping for a Doritos Locos Tacos ticket, with the Quesalupa as VP. The platform? #AllTacosMatter, of course.