Last night on the Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham led with “Si se puede”, an expression whose meaning and message seem to have been lost in translation.
The segment focussed on the Democratic party’s appeal to Hispanic voters and how, Ingraham claimed, the community’s support appeared to be skewing Republican.
In an attempt to get her message about “Hispandering” across, the Fox host started with a slogan in Spanish – “Sí, se puede” – which originated with the United Farm Workers of America and has since spread to other activist groups.
But what’s the meaning of the phrase and did Ingraham get it right?
What is the meaning of ‘Sí, se puede’?
“Sí, se puede” is the motto of the United Farm Workers of America and it originates from the early 1970s labor rights movement. In 1972, American civil activist César Chávez went on a 25-day fast in Phoenix, Arizona in protest against the state governor’s crackdown on farm labor unions.
It was during the fast that UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta came up with the slogan, which served as the organization’s guiding principle and became a federally registered trademark of the UFW.
In English, the meaning of “Sí, se puede” translates to “Yes, it’s possible” or “Yes, it can be done.” Since its origins with the UFW in the 1970s, it was adopted as a rallying cry during immigration reform protests and by a number of activist organizations.
President Barack Obama adopted the English version, “Yes, we can”, leading up to the 2004 senate elections and it later became his campaign slogan during the 2008 presidential elections.
Did Laura Ingraham get ‘Sí, se puede’ right?
Almost. During her Fox News segment last night, host Laura Ingraham adopted “Sí, se puede” to make a point about what she called the Democratic party’s “Hispandering”. Ingraham’s take was that the party’s “bad Spanish” and “empty rhetoric” were driving away Hispanic voters.
However, as some viewers pointed out, Ingraham herself got the slogan wrong.
There is a substantial difference between “Si se puede” – which means “If it’s possible to…” or “If it can be done” – and “¡Sí, se puede!” – which means “Yes, it can be done!” or even “Yes, we can!”.
It’s understandable, however, that a relatively small difference like accent and punctuation would be lost on someone who doesn’t speak Spanish.
However, in adopting an incomplete form of “Sí, se puede”, Ingraham may have inadvertently committed the same faux-pas she accuses the Democratic party of.
Ingraham is known for her harsh stance on immigration
In the past, the Fox host has spoken out against the US’s immigration policies, especially from south of the border.
In a 2019 episode of her podcast, Ingraham and a guest criticized “illegal” immigrants from Mexico and Central America for speaking Spanish in public, which, in the guest’s opinion, made them “unassimilated,” Newsweek reported.
“When I go in town, and I go to my cleaner, and everybody’s speaking Spanish… And people walk out of the cleaner’s, and they throw their McDonald’s sack right in the gutter, it gets me really angry,” said her guest, military historian Victor Davis Hanson.
“Oh no, I get enraged,” Ingraham concurred.
More recently, the Fox host has claimed that Democratic candidates “talk down” to Latino voters, whom they “take for granted.”