Friday, September 7, 2012

Rubio Vs Castro, More than One Castro

Now that we've seen both conventions, there is one thing we can be certain of: Both parities are trying to present an Hispanic face.

The Republicans are pinning their hopes on Marco Rubio, while Democrats are going with the far more telegenic  Julian Castro.  Castro, despite his last name, is of Mexican descent while Rubio has Cuban roots, and on the surface, with  far greater numbers of Mexican immigrants, that would seem like a bad bet for the Republicans.

I agree with that, but for different reasons.  Rubio isn't just Cuban, he is a throwback to a community that defines itself as anti-communist and distrusting of government, while Mexican-Americans  are far more likely to look to government as a fair arbiter for full integration into the American mainstream.  And let's face it, with its embrace of Jan Brewer and the politics of anti-immigration hatred, the Repugs aren't exactly endearing themselves to the far larger Mexican American demographic.

But it goes beyond that.  Rubio is a really, really,  big throwback.  Today's younger Cuban-Americans may agree with their grandfathers that Fidel Castro is an evil man and that Cuba should be free and democratic,  (I'm a white, liberal Democrat and I think that too.)  but those young Cuban Americans have never know Cuba and communist oppression.  What they know is increasing college tuition, and high youth unemployment.  And those are issues that are far stronger for Democrats than Republicans.

I found it telling that Cuban-American talk show host Cristina Saralegui chose to endorse President Barack Obama for reelection.  In theory, she should be a Republican.  Unlike Marco Rubio, she was born in Cuba, and she does have memories of Fidel and the revolution.  But in her world view, we look forward to the future, not back to the past.  I'm sure she would love to see a fair and free election in Havana, but she'd also like to see social progress, a progress built on economic justice and opportunity for all, in the United States.

One other note.  In 2004 Illinois State Senator Barack Obama gave the key note address at the Democratic National Convention, and after he was done, many people, myself included, said to themselves. "I've just seen the first African-American president."  How many people said that Rubio will be the first Hispanic-American president?  How many thought that of Castro?  .  Pay attention.  I don't often agree with George W. Bush or brother Jeb.  Their contention that pissing off Hispanics is a good way to destroy the Republican Party is dead on.

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