So, the GOP took a beating, losing on every demographic that wasn’t white and male, and the few sane Republicans who aren’t reality-challenged appear ready to anoint Marco Rubio their lightly-brown knight in shinning armor for 2016.
To which I say, bring it on.
Rubio may be attractive to those who think a last name ending in a vowel, an embellished immigrant story and a riding-the-fence Dream Act Lite proposal is all he needs to peel off some Latinos from the Dems. Well, first of all, it is well-known by anyone who has spent a minute Googling the issue that there’s a gulf between Cubans and the rest of Hispanics, and despite his protestations, Rubio’s appeal outside of Florida is debatable. After the record number of Cuban Americans voting for Obama, it’s not even clear if he can deliver Florida.
Among his champions are simplistic folks like Charles Krauthammer who believe it’s all about one issue with Hispanics: illegal immigration. Pacify us on that one and we’ll overlook the minutemen and the fences, the English-only nativists, the Arizona labor camps, the racist conservative radio hosts and everything else. Memo to the just-bring-out-the-brown-guy crowd: it’s not the immigration, stupid:
For the ten weeks the impreMedia-Latino Decisions poll has been taken the most important issue for Latinos consistently has been the economy and the latest release revealed that Romney and the Republican party have been unable to convince Latino voters that they will be better at improving it. Seventy-three percent of Latino voters trust Obama and the Democrats to make the right decisions to improve the economy compared to only 18% that trust Romney and the Republicans.
The other side of the GOP’s old-fashioned idea of Latino outreach is their belief that they are natural conservatives. Family values, highly religious, etc. As Peter Beinart says, they think of us as “Tea Partiers with visa problems”. But the reality is different:
Hispanics do feel that the economic system is “stacked against them” and they do “want stuff” like health care, college-tuition assistance, and other government benefits that might help them get ahead. According to Pew, while only 41 percent of Americans as a whole say they want a bigger government that provides more services, a whopping 75 percent of Hispanics do.
I’ve read more studies and sat in more focus groups studying the U.S. Hispanic market that I care to remember, and if there’s one thing that always comes up is that they admire the government institutions and the social safeguards of the United States. We left behind countries with a long history of plutocrat-led pseudo-democracies favoring the rich (any similarities to Romney aren’t coincidental) and simply put, we’d rather have a strong government that works for us and gives us a level playing field. Otherwise we would have stayed home.
And here’s the other problem with Rubio: he’s the definition of an empty suit. The guy talks a good game, but when push comes to shove, he doesn’t propose anything and doesn’t lead anything. Other than a harebrained populist proposal to not tax Olympic athletes, what has he done? Take the aforementioned Dream Act Lite, how long is he going to be teasing it? His M.O. is to criticize a piece of legislation by saying he agrees with the intent but not with the way it’s written. Then why don’t you propose an alternative, wonder boy? I am convinced that this lack of substance is what kept Romney from picking him as VP and giving the nod to Ryan, who actually had a leading record. (That, or Rubio didn’t want to be part of a losing ticket.)
Rubio 2016? If only.