The GOP's Hispanic Candidates: Perfect for Self-Loathing Latinos
They are the new breed of GOP Latino politicians — more conservative than those already in public office, more Draconian in their approach to illegal immigration, likelier to forsake their own language and culture, and more willing to betray their own people in order to please their party's conservative, xenophobic and immigrant-bashing base.
They are the new Uncle Toms. Nowadays we see these Tios Tomas running for anything from local sheriff to governor to U.S. senator. By propping up a few Latino Republicans, GOP leaders apparently feel they can soften the Hispanic backlash they are expected to receive on Election Day for having spent the past few years bashing immigrants.
Instead of trying to appeal to Latinos by softening their hard stance against undocumented immigrants, they chose to go with Latino candidates who can continue to lead the immigrant haters.
If you were asked to define the perfect anti-Hispanic candidate, there is a Republican running for the U.S. Senate in Florida who meets all the qualifications. But amazingly, he's a Latino! And even more amazingly, many Latinos are planning to vote for him!
This Tio Tomas goes by the name of Marco Rubio. Although he is the son of Cuban immigrants, Rubio has spent his entire campaign pandering to tea partyers and other conservative extremists. He could be a poster boy for Latino haters.
Rubio supports making English the official language even though such a measure would deny language rights to Latinos and other immigrants. He supported the infamous racial profiling, anti-immigrant Arizona law, even after its most discriminatory provisions were nullified by a federal court. He rejects giving a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants, including even those who came as children and are looking to attend college or serve in the military. He is opposed to counting undocumented immigrants in the U.S. census even though his state could lose significant federal funding if they are not counted.
The two other Hispanic Republicans running in statewide races have not outlined as many anti-Hispanic positions as Rubio, but Susana Martinez in the New Mexico gubernatorial race and Brian Sandoval in the Nevada gubernatorial race both have taken the extremists' position on immigration. They bash immigrants to score political points with right-wing extremists. For self-loathing Latinos, they are perfect!
Unfortunately, like many Republican candidates who have had to sell their souls to the conservative extremists this election year, these Latino Republicans have felt the need to become Tios Tomas. But it doesn't mean we have to vote for them.
How they are able to take a tough anti-immigrant stance without alienating more of their fellow Latinos is a question that will need to be analyzed by political scientists for years to come. But it obviously has a lot to do with ethnic solidarity and the need Latinos feel to elect more of their own people.
Polls say Rubio will get a majority of the Hispanic vote in Florida, while Martinez and Sandoval will capture close to a third of the Hispanic vote in their respective states. Why? Are Latinos so eager to elect their own leaders that they would empower someone who would work against them? Is our ethnic solidarity turning us into masochists?
"Should Latinos support a candidate just because he is Latino, even if he openly supports laws that are harmful to Latinos and immigrants in general?" That question recently was posted on a Listserv where a group of New Jersey Latinos was discussing the candidacy of a Latino conservative running for sheriff in Passaic County.
It's happening across the country.
Rubio and my fellow Cuban-Americans are the best example. His repulsive anti-Hispanic agenda couldn't be clearer. Yet many Cubans, including some who have serious reservations about his anti-immigrant politics, still are planning to vote for him.
Some of it has to do with an inexplicable loyalty to the Republican Party that goes back to the 1960s, an allegiance that has survived a half-century of broken Republican promises to help the Cuban people regain their freedom. And some of it has to do with a blatant lack of compassion for their fellow Latinos, most of whom were not so lucky as Cubans in the way they were received when they arrived in the United States.
When our fellow Latinos fail to understand the plight of the Cuban people under communism, when they fail to support Cuban-American causes, when they wear Che Guevara T-shirts and when some even flirt with the Castro brothers, we Cuban-Americans (including me) complain about the insensitivities of our fellow Latinos. But when we Cubans support candidates like Rubio, the insensitivity is ours. Rubio is driving a wedge of hatred between my Cuban community and my Hispanic community. It's reprehensible!
Mind you, Rubio, Martinez and Sandoval are much more conservative than most Latino Republicans currently in Congress, including three Cuban-Americans, who support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. If elected, Rubio would replace another Hispanic U.S. senator, Mel Martinez, who is another Cuban-American who courageously battled the xenophobes in his own party and retired without having to sell his soul to conservative extremists.
Frankly, Republicans are insulting our intelligence. They have spent years trying to demonize immigrants, especially Latinos, and it is hard to understand how they could be so stupid by consciously alienating the nation's largest minority and fastest-growing demographic. Yet now they prop up a few token Latino candidates — puppets who unconscionably stand against their own people — and this is how they intend to demonstrate they are our friends?
If it weren't so sad — so shameless — it would be funny!
They may be able to win over a few Latinos who will be blinded by ethnic solidarity, but if Republicans think they can sway Latinos to return to their party in droves — after scaring many away with the face of hatred — they could be in for a huge surprise.
Nevertheless, if these Latino conservatives win with a significant portion of the Hispanic vote, as the polls suggest they will, the GOP will display them as props to demonstrate that some of its best amigos are actually Hispanic. Republicans will be able to claim that some of their most racist and mean-spirited measures are supported by Latinos. And they will assume they can continue to stomp on the Hispanic community — as long as they can prop up a few token Latino puppets on Election Day.
Needless to say, if I lived in Florida, New Mexico or Nevada, my vote would be for the Hispanic community — and against the anti-Hispanic Latinos running in statewide races.
To find out more about Miguel Perez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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