|Conservative activists are distributing these anti-Rubio buttons|
Remember all that excitement among Republicans and the media just after the 2012 election about how Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was going to "save" the GOP from demographic decimation in future elections? Rubio, whose family came to America from Cuba after escaping the casinos, girls, and gangsters that populated the American tourist trap prior to the downfall of Fulgencio Batista, has milked America's ignorance of Cuba, and convinced Republican and media rubes alike that he is some sort of freedom fighter. Never mind that Rubio's family came to America two years before Fidel Castro's takeover. Why let that get in the way of a good political back story?
But I digress...
The far right of the Republican Party (aka The Tea Party) may say nice things about Rubio, but they clearly do not want more of his kind coming to America...and voting. GOP mouthpiece Rush Limbaugh interviewed Sen. Rubio and made his case for being opposed to any immigration reform. “I know that you say the political aspects of this are not yours, but so many people are scared to death, Senator, that the Republican party is committing suicide,” Limbaugh said. “That we’re going to end up legalizing 9 million automatic Democrat voters and that’s why the Democrats are so adamant...I see polling data again that suggests 70 percent of the Hispanic population worldwide or in the country believes that government is the primary source of prosperity. I don’t, therefore, understand this contention that Hispanics are conservatives in waiting."
For political reasons, I understand Limbaugh's assertions (as factually challenged as they may be). They are wrong, of course, as I doubt there is any actual polling that shows Hispanics believe government is the "primary source of prosperity." But few look to Limbaugh for facts. What I find strange is that for the last two decades, the line coming from the GOP has been that "Hispanics are natural Republicans." After asserting that Hispanics are religious and have strong families, professional Republicans then make the leap into believing it is natural for them to vote Republican. Yet they rarely do.
Pres. George W. Bush did the best electorally of any Republican president in his re-election in 2004. His attempt at immigration reform failed miserably because most of his party was opposed. Not just opposed, but violently opposed. It was about that time when the term "amnesty" became the go-to word when Republicans talked about Latino immigration. Every conservative talker on radio and TV railed against amnesty, and how anything short of mass deportation of the estimated 11 million folks in the country illegally was, in fact, amnesty. Following the amnesty craze, we got the term "anchor baby" and, of course, the threats of Al Qeda invading America via Mexico. This was in addition to the recommendation of numerous Republican office holders and candidates that we build a 20ft high electrified fence to keep out "illegals."
No matter how you slice it, when you accuse every person with brown skin of being a potential illegal, and pass laws requiring Hispanics to carry their "papers" (see Arizona), and then accuse them of only wanting to come here in order to get "free stuff," it is hard to get them to turn around and vote for you. That is the Republican dilemma.
Most Hispanics are not going to hear anything you have to say about lower taxes and smaller government when the people doing the talking are calling them wetbacks and referring to the Spanish language as the "language of the ghetto." They just aren't. And who would blame them?
American conservatives have shown an open hostility to the Latino community in the US, while Democrats and liberals have not. Hell, the Republicans even filibustered the Dream Act, which was Bush-era idea in the first place!
Rubio has a very tough sell to his tea party friends in the Congress. Most of them have invested quite a bit of their political capitol talking tough about illegal Mexicans invading the country. They can't turn back now, or they will find themselves being on the losing end of a primary election with an even more right-wing candidate in the next election cycle. So, as the conservative movement in America becomes even more insular and xenophobic, its chances of winning national elections becomes increasingly difficult. Like gay marriage (a formerly successful Republican wedge issue), the issue of Latino immigration is wedging the GOP right out of the electoral mainstream.
Is Marco Rubio the GOP savior? Can the party even be saved? Does it want to be saved? I suspect that NO is the answer to all three questions.