Looking for a true Latino in the presidential race

Is Sen. Marco Rubio a Latino? He is as a Cuban American. But like Sen.Ted Cruz, he is not really a Latino from a political perspective. What do I mean? First of all, I believe in the wide diversity of the Latino community composed of Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Central Americans, Cuban Americans, Caribbean Americans, and South Americans. I also believe in Latinos reflecting a variety of views, as long as they have the best intentions of the Latino community in mind.

Rubio, like Cruz, may be ethnically Latino, but he does not have the best interests of the Latino community in mind. As a card-carrying Tea Partier, he has staked out positions that, rather than helping Latinos, would hurt them. His position on immigration is as radical as Trump's and Cruz's in that he would support deportation of families and does not acknowledge that most undocumented immigrants are hard-working and law-abiding people who deserve to have their status legalized and have an opportunity to become citizens. In wanting to eliminate Obamacare, Rubio would deny millions of Latinos health insurance. He would deny federal educational programs aimed at Latinos and other inner-city students. He supports measures to lessen voting opportunities, measures that impact Latinos citizens' right to vote. And he supports an interventionist foreign and military policy that would lead to more Americans, including many Latinos, being sent to unnecessary wars. Nothing of what Rubio supports would advance the interest of Latinos' further integrating into the American system. Instead, Rubio supports unregulated "free capitalist enterprise" that would only benefit the wealthiest of Americans and shrink the middle class further -- it would maintain working groups such as Latinos as pools of cheap labor.

So is Rubio a Latino? Not in my book. To be Latino you need to identify with the Latino community and advance the interests of that community. This is what in the African American experiences used to be referred to as "race men." That is, those African American leaders who supported civil and human rights for African Americans. Rubio is not a "race man." Can a conservative Latino be a Latino? Yes, if he or she at a minimum recognizes that Latinos are not fully integrated in American life -- not because of their own deficiencies -- but because of racism and class exploitation, and that this mandates federal involvement in civil rights protections. Rubio, like Cruz, is not this type of Latino conservative. As a result, if Rubio were to become the Republican nominee for president, in my opinion, he would not be the first Latino to achieve that honor, and if by chance he were to be elected president, he would not be the "first Latino president."


Join the Conversation

Send your thoughts and reactions to Letters to the Editor. Learn more here

Advertisement