Sen. Ted Cruz, Republican from Texas, a few days ago became the first formally declared presidential candidate for next year’s election. Although Cruz is a Latino of Cuban-American background, I want to give five reasons (there are more) why most Latinos will not or should not support Cruz, who was just elected two years ago.
The first reason is that he seems to have little affinity with Latinos, including the large Mexican-American population in his own home state of Texas. Indeed, Cruz is an anomaly in that state due to his Cuban-American background. He was raised outside of the state and educated at Harvard. I don’t decry this but only point out that he has no historical roots in Texas as a Latino, much less as a Mexican-American. This does not mean that Cuban-Americans can’t identify with Mexican-Americans. Many do but Cruz does not appear to be one of these. Mexican-Americans and indeed other Latinos support candidates whom they feel truly represent their interests and whom they can feel an affinity toward. This does not just pertain to Latino candidates but to all candidates. Latinos including Mexican-Americans were enchanted with John F. Kennedy and even today revere him almost as a secular saint. They felt a bond as well with Bill Clinton who seemed to feel their pain and aspirations. They certainly have felt the same for President Obama, having overwhelmingly voted for him in 2008 and 2012. I don’t see the same reaction to Ted Cruz. If anything, most Latinos will support Hillary Clinton.
Secondly, Cruz is out of step with most Latinos on immigration. He supports a tough but insensitive approach that would continue deportations of undocumented immigrants, including those with U.S.-born children. He does not support the Dream Act that would give a pathway to legalization and citizenship to those young Latinos who were brought by their parents into the country as infants, and who have grown up as Americans, except that they do not have documents. Of course, Cruz opposes President Obama’s executive actions that would protect nearly five million undocumented with U.S.-born children from being deported, and which also increases the number of Dream Children who can qualify for temporary residency and a pathway to legalization and citizenship. Instead, Cruz plays up to the worst elements of our society, who seem to hate Latino immigrants (documented or undocumented) and who want to retain a predominantly white society.
Third, Cruz, since going to Washington, has been crusading to repeal Obamacare, totally insensitive to the fact that it has helped provide health insurance for thousands if not millions of previously uninsured Latinos, many of whom still need to be insured. These are working class people who previously could not afford health insurance and consequently did not go to doctors for themselves or their children. The only time they sought medical care was by going to emergency rooms where their costs were picked up by taxpayers, raising the costs of emergency care. Obamacare has helped to rectify much of this and Cruz seems to care less. It’s okay for him to have government healthcare as a U.S. senator, but not other Americans, including Latinos. Cruz’s position on healthcare is not only politically wrong: it is morally wrong.
Fourth, Cruz is opposed to other federal programs that assist Americans, including Latinos, in areas such as education, job retraining, home loan support, food stamps, the right of women for equal pay and the right of women to control their own bodies. He would do away with Medicare as we know it and endanger the Social Security system. All of these programs benefit Latinos, like other Americans, and Cruz would endanger them or eliminate them entirely.
Fifth and finally, Cruz believes in an American foreign policy that would lead to more military interventions in other parts of the world such as in the Middle East. Such interventions have taken a large toll on Latinos, since many are in the armed forces and pay the ultimate price through loss of lives or physical and mental injuries. With Cruz as president, more Latinos would be put in harm’s way by a president whose main response to foreign crises would be military intervention. Latinos cannot pay this price again.
There are other reasons why Latinos will not or should not support Ted Cruz or any other Latino candidate who works against their interests. As I have noted before, Latinos do not just instinctively vote for a Latino candidate. They don’t vote that way. They understand who feels for them and who supports programs that benefit them. Senator Ted Cruz does not qualify as one of these candidates.