Unlike all other Latinos, Cubanos get preferential US immigration treatment: there is no illegal Cubano immigrant problem. Not by coincidence, the GOP's two star 'Latinos' Rubio and Cruz are Cubanos. I cringe every time I see them characterized as Hispanics or Latinos, which they are in name only. It is a source of some satirical fun that 'Rubio' is Spanish for blonde.The distinction between Cubanos and other Latinos is lost on most Anglos. Selling them as Latinos may make GOP Anglos feel better. It does nothing for other Latinos, however. Daniel Larison:
Put another way, most Hispanics aren’t likely to identify with conservative Cuban Republicans, which makes the attempt to appeal to them on the basis of identity politics even less likely to succeed than usual. It is an attempt to practice identity politics without really understanding the identities involved. It’s pandering without going to the trouble of paying lip service to the issues that matter to most of these voters, which is just half-hearted pandering.For Cubanos, refugee status is automatic, uniquely among Latinos. While citizenship is neither 100% automatic nor immediate, the vast majority do get citizenship, though, and much faster than any other Latinos via the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966.
One who makes it to shore ("dry feet") gets a chance to remain in the United States, and later would qualify for expedited "legal permanent resident" status and, eventually, U.S. citizenship.But in this way they are typical of the GOP: we got ours, f--- you.
As Maria Santana says, there are some specific ways to woo a Latino voter.
"Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres," which means, "Judge a man by the company he keeps... He was a darling of the tea party and at times has adopted positions that Latinos consider extreme on issues of concern to them and has prompted many to label him a traitor."More on the LINOS below the fold...
Ana Marie Cox says, "Marco Rubio isn't the 'Republicans' Obama', he's a Latino Rick Santorum. Republicans made Senator Rubio their frontman on a speech [last month] on GOP ideas to end poverty. It was laughable and sad."
In 2012, Santorum outlined the exact same three-point anti-poverty plan: promote marriage, eliminate federal poverty programs in favor of block grants to states, and "something something America hope-dream-optimism something".The majority of people living in poverty are Anglos, but Latinos are a larger fraction than they are in the general population. So although anti-poverty programs, safety net programs, and public education programs help more Anglos than Latinos, disproportionate Latino (and African American) poverty feeds the GOP's racism and resistance to those programs. 25 million Anglos have to suffer to make sure that 12 million Browns and 9 million Blacks don't get 'entitlements.' When we get to children in poverty, though, African Americans almost outnumber Anglos (4.8 million to 5.0 million), and Latinos (6.1 million) do outnumber them. If Rubio believed in helping the needy generally, or children, or helping Latinos particularly, he would do better than Santorum. He does not.
Rubio at least speaks Spanish well and has ties to the large Florida Cubano community. Cruz has much more tenuous ties to Cubanos or any other Latino community - which is surprising in that 38% of Texas' population is Latino, primarily Mexican-American. In August 2012, Roque Planas wrote:
“He doesn’t appear to have a great deal of interest in becoming a Hispanic politician,” Jones said of Cruz. “He wants to be a Republican politician.”...and a contrarian one at that. As a Cubano-Canadian he is a couple of generations removed from Cuba and any significant ties to its expatriot community. He is to the right of Rubio, for instance completely against immigration reform
“I think it would be a mistake if House Republicans were to support amnesty for those here illegally,” he said when asked about the proposal to be outlined in the House GOP's immigration principles.More recently, there was the Senate vote to waive the debt ceiling until March 2015. Cruz alienated his own party further by calling out the 'vote no, hope yes' Senate GOP leadership. McConnell is particularly vulnerable to his wealthy Tea 'Party' primary challenger, Matt Bevin. Cruz triggered a filibuster, which meant that some GOP votes were needed to bring the issue to the floor. McConnell blinked. Afterwards, Cruz called him on it, in a rare display of political candor:
“An awful lot of the Republicans wanted exactly what Barack Obama wanted … which was to raise the debt ceiling [without reining in spending], but they wanted to be able to tell what they view as their foolish, gullible constituents back [home] they didn’t do it and they’re mad because by [my] refusing to consent to that they had to come out in the open and admit what they are doing and nothing upsets them more,” Cruz said.If Rubio aspires to be a Cubano Rick Santorum, Cruz aspires to be the next Barry Goldwater. Or Jesse Helms. Or Joseph McCarthy. Regardless, he is doing nothing to help Latinos, much less the majority of Americans.
Rubio at least has a Latino identity politically; Cruz lacks even that. It doesn't matter, though, because far from advocating on behalf of American Latinos, they have turned their backs on Latinos to advocate GOP policies harmful to most Latinos and to most other Americans. That's the GOP's idea of outreach. That's the GOP's idea of re-branding. That's the GOP's idea of House - and Senate, and Presidential - Latinos.
El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido.
This is a cumulative response to criticisms I have read from Armando and others.
The original title, "Cubanos - like Rubio and Cruz - are the GOP's House Latinos" was mistaken in painting all Cubanos with the same brush. Better would have been omitting the hyphens (which were a last-minute addition), to do this: "Cubanos Rubio and Cruz are the GOP's House Latinos," and I wish I had done so. I am sorry, and have changed it.
As a writer, I made a larger mistake of focusing on the wrong audience. At times I imagined I was talking to some Anglo Republicans of my acquaintance and adopted some language accordingly, like LINO refers to RINO. My audience is really other progressives advocating for all Americans, regardless of origins. For that I also apologize.
How best to convey that Rubio, and to a lesser extent Cruz, would not be where they are today without GOP tokenism - a token without substance behind the notional identity of the token? a token of ethnic identity? a token with rich historical precedent in the treatment of African Americans?
I was pleasantly surprised to see a community spotlight designation last night - and then dismayed this morning to see it pulled as bigoted. I intended the reference to House Latinos to allude to House Servants being a better class of servants but still servants, and I went back and forth on using it at all. I could also have used 'gilded cage,' but I wanted a more powerful phrase, and am willing to live with the flack I am getting for using it. If you don't like it, that's fine, but it is no less true.
It is an analogy, not an equivalence - a heavy one, to be sure - and on reflection is exactly what I meant. Uncle Tom is another term I could have used, but I didn't want to be that heavy. Several people thought of the African-American experience. I was and am mindful of it, having spent most of my childhood in Oklahoma. But I am also thinking of my family's experience: my father, his father, and his grandparents grew up on a sugar plantation in Hawai'i, which didn't have slavery but had field workers and house workers with the same distinction common to the American South.
Things are changing within the Cubano community. But it is more Republican than any other Latino group, and have been for over half a century. It is not surprising that the highest-profile GOP Latinos are Cubano. If Obama won the 2012 vote among Cubanos - and I have seen some results either way - it was the first time.
As reported in the Wall Street Journal, "The president captured 48 percent of the Cuban-American vote in Florida -- a record high for a Democrat."Also, as a commenter said elsewhere in these comments:
Democratic presidential nominees went from 25 percent of the Cuban-American vote in 2000, to 29 percent in 2004, to 35 percent in 2008 to 48 percent on 2012.
In the West and Mid-West where most Latinos are of Mexican and Central American origin rather than Caribbean the "preferred immigration status" is a raw wound. I don't have any facts and figures but my experience is that Mexican Americans have a problem with Cuban AmericansI live in Oregon, and most of the Latinos here are Mexican-Americans, from Sonora and Michoacán, and I definitely hear this one.
Finally, this is my first step into controversy, however inadvertent, and I am grateful for so very much thoughtful commentary on the pros and cons of what I said and how I said it. It is an honor to be able to write here!
Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 4:58 PM PT: Changed the title to say "Model Latinos." I apologize for using the previous term.