The media has decided that Marco Rubio is the GOP's very best hope of changing into a winning political party. Last night the party used him to rebut Obama's State of the Union message. Time magazine even put him on its cover, boldly labeling him the savior of the GOP. He is, the media claims, young, fresh, well-spoken, pleasant, and a Latino who can bring the Latino community into the GOP fold.
Nonsense. The only thing that is true in the above laundry list of Rubio attributes is that he's young. He isn't fresh. Or at least his ideas aren't. He mouths the same old stale GOP dumbness, as he did in his rather pathetic effort to rebut Obama Tuesday night. He isn't well-spoken. How can someone who has nothing to say be considered "well-spoken". Terms like "smooth" or "snake oil" come to mind instead.
Well, maybe he is actually "pleasant". I'll let him have that one because it doesn't matter much.
But a figure who can bring the Latino vote to the GOP?! Nay, no, never!
First of all, Rubio is not "Latino" in any sense of the term that matters in politics. He is a Cuban-American. Leave it to the GOP (and the media) to get this wrong. They think that anyone who is from "south of the border" (or whose ancestors were) is someone Latinos can identify with. Not true. The vast majority of Latinos don't identify with Cuban-Americans at all and especially not with Republican ones.
The reasons are simple. First, non-Cuban Latinos have been Democrats for a long time because they have perceived that the Democrats have been on their side on many issues beyond immigration, all the way back to Bobbie Kennedy on the grape strike. And they remember Ethel Kennedy coming to a vigil outside the Salinas California jail where Cesar Chavez was imprisoned because of union organizing activity. By contrast, except for George W and his bill for immigration reform, the GOP hasn't cared a rat's ass about Latino issues. And it was George's fellow Republicans who doomed his bill. No single Republican is going to shift the Latinos' choice of party.
Besides party affiliation, there's another way Rubio does not share the political history of Latinos. His community is present in the USA largely because of Castro's takeover of Cuba in the late 1950s. Even though Rubio's family apparently left Cuba before Castro's takeover, many others came here as refuges from Castro's Communism. The enemy of the Cuban-American community's enemy was their friend. And the GOP really played the anti-Communism card, even to Ike authorizing the Bay of Pigs invasion. When JFK refused to use American air power and land forces, the anti-Castro Cubans became passionately Republican. That lasted until the current younger generation. (The same has been true of the Chinese here who fled the Communist takeover in China in the 1940s.)
No such affinity exists between the non-Cuban Latinos and the GOP. So why would they fall in line behind Rubio because he's a Cuban Republican? They won't. He is, in short, nothing to them. In the old days, he would have been called an Uncle Tomasito, a docile house slave, trying to make it by being on the master's team. Or "an Oreo", i.e. chocolate on the outside and white on the inside.
Not pretty? Racism never is, and one of the great harms it does is produce such attitudes within a group towards those they perceive as traitors. But, after all they have been through and still suffer (and I've seen some of it up close), Latinos may have the right to be bitter toward those they see as sell-outs.
In their ignorance the GOP and the media pundits have grossly insulted the Latino community. First, they have assumed all Spanish-speaking people are the same, and thus the Latinos will see Marco Rubio as "one of them". Second, they have assumed that Latinos have the memory of a leaf and will giddily overlook all the insults, hatred, and hostility heaped on them by the GOP in recent years. All the Republicans need do, they seem to think, is push one of their "boys" forward who speaks Spanish while the rest make nice noises about immigration reform. The GOP thinks that will do it.
How dumb can you get? That's the worst insult of all, to assume your victim never noticed your hatred and that you still have a clean slate. Hey, GOP! I've got a nice bridge you might want to buy.