Marco Rubio has changed his mind about the Arizona immigration law, which he now supports whole-heartedly, to the point of actually advocating the deportation of children to Latin American countries where he admits the culture would be alien to them. In doing so, he may be joining an ignominious club, and so marginalizing himself in the quest for the votes of hardline conservatives that he loses all hope of gaining ground among Florida moderates.
Rubio has locked up conservative Republican votes for November. But to win, he needs to expand his base to include independents, who in Florida tend not to be nearly as right wing as Rubio's new BFF, Jim DeMint (of South Carolina), or even as the state's legislature, whose minority rule is cemented by gerrymandered districts. By moving to the far right in the immigration debate, Rubio may make Ann Coulter happy, but he could harm himself with fellow Hispanics (Rubio is Cuban-American, but the fastest growing group of Florida Hispanics are Puerto Rican, and their numbers are numerous in the critical central portion of the state) as well as with suburban whites, and younger voters, who tend to hold more moderate views.
And it can't be stated enough that Rubio's new stance on immigration ends, probably for all time, the possibility that he can be the right's fishing lure to reel in Hispanic votes in 2012. Nearly seven in ten Hispanic-Americans are of Mexican origin, and the vast majority (just like the majority of all Americans, including Republicans) favor the "path to citizenship" that Rubio now stringently opposes. Thanks for playing, Mr. Rubio.
From Sara Haile-Mariam at Campus Progress:
"And that’s why I’ve always believed that, no matter how well-intentioned it is. I understand the human stories that we’re going to…We’re gonna….There are going to be stories of very young kids that were brought to this country at a very young age who don’t even speak Spanish that are going to be sent back to Nicaragua or some other place. And it’s gonna feel weird and I understand that. The goal here is to have an immigration policy that works."
It's "gonna feel weird"? Really, Marco? That's all you've got??? Campus Progress, your witness:
Rubio’s scenario of an ideal immigration system would require securing federal funding to deport over 65,000 young people who are undocumented citizens. It would require some sort of system to identify them, hunt them down, and facilitate their deportation. The proposal doesn’t sound weird as much as it sounds wrong.
Tell me about it. Rubio's revised position on the Arizona law puts him squarely in opposition to himself, since he used to be considered a moderate on immigration, and even was accused by rabid anti-immigrationists in Florida of slow-walking related bills when he was Speaker of the House. This was Rubio in December:
"They're God's children, but they're here illegally," he recently told a Republican club in northwest Florida. "You can't round up 11 million people because we don't live in a police state. But you can't grant amnesty either because if you do, you will destroy any hope of having a legal immigration system that works. You will send a message that all you have to do is come into this country, stay here long enough and we will let you stay."
But Rubio now says you can indeed round them all up and deport them, and we should do so right away, including children who came into this country illegally without their knowledge, because they were kids, to which Ms. Haile-Mariam asks:
What I’d like to know is what I’m supposed to tell young people like Juan, Felipe, Gabby and Carlos collectively known as the Trail of Dream Walkers. These four young people walked from Florida to Washington, D.C., in support of immigration reforms like the DREAM Act, federal legislation that would provide three of them with a path to citizenship through education or military service.
Incredibly, Rubio has now taken a position to the right of Linda Chavez, the conservative, self-described "most hated Hispanic in America," who wrote a stinging rebuke of the Arizona law this month, even attacking it's grammar. Rubio had denounced the law for a time, too, with back-up from Jeb Bush. And not for nothing, but the law's sponsor has ties to white supremacists and anti-Hispanic bigots, something obviously lost on Mr. Rubio, who now appears to be taking different advice than that offered by Jeb. He is, apparently, oblivious to the irony that his people, Cuban-Americans, have had the most liberal immigration policy applied to them, including allowing them to enter the U.S. without visas, via Mexico.
In South Florida, among the strongest supporters of immigration reform, including more liberal rules for admitting Haitian refugees into the country are Cuban-Americans, including all three Cuban-American members of Congress. Rubio has now also placed himself to the right of his own community.
Is Rubio becoming the Latino Clarence Thomas?
There is a reason why more blacks and Hispanics don't join the Republican Party and the "conservative movement." It's not just their ideas, which often seem hostile to people of color, and which have had very real, negative consequences, not just for minorities, but for America. It's that in order to be in the club, you have to sell a little too much of your soul, by becoming an ethnic parody (see Michael Steele) or by openly repudiating your own ethnic group in the strongest, harshest terms, in order to prove that you have more fealty to their notion of America, which often translates to a particular white historic and corporate elite, than to people who look like you. In an ideal world, there should of course be no ethnic tribalism in a pluralistic, multi-ethnic society. But America has not reached that ideal, and empathy for others, whether in your own ethnic group or not, is at minimum, a sign of civilization. To the right, however, empathy is seen as a threat, particularly when those being empathized with are not, to be blunt, white.
Well think about the African-Americans who have earned favor among right wing Republicans: Alan Keyes, whose bug-eyed denunciations of Barack Obama (and his supposed threat to the republic) and zealous advocacy of the founding fathers, with no reference to the fact that had he been among them, they would have considered him a rank inferior, and enslaved him, have not stopped him from being taken seriously on the right; Clarence Thomas, whose self-pitying malevolence extends not just to affirmative action, which he grouses at having benefited from, but to anyone who isn't at the economic apex of society; plus the equally bitter Ward Connerly, the reverse Robin Hood of affirmative action politics, who was indirectly responsible for Jeb Bush's imposition of "One Florida" on this state.
Other conservative African-Americans, like Star Parker, excel at banging on about "welfare queens" and "race hustlers," while contributing nothing, beyond the books they're trying to sell (and the occasional long shot run for Congress), to the cause of improving struggling inner city communities.
There's Allen West, whose clownish performances as the lone black member of the "tea party movement" have a Dave Chappelle quality to them that really make me miss the former Comedy Central show.
And let's not even get started on Michelle Malkin, an Asian-American supporter of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II...
Likewise, conservative Hispanics are prized by the right for their willingness to condemn fellow Latinos for daring to come to this country and mow the lawn and pick tomatoes. But that has proved to be a brand of cognitive dissonance most people find difficult, if not impossible, to accept. In fact, there are notable exceptions; people who refuse to be the spokesmen for bigotry or extremism just to please the far right (think Michelle Bernard of the Independent Womens Forum, JC Watts, who left Congress saying he was tired of being a photo-op, and Gen. Collin Powell, the one Republican of any ethnicity with the cojones to denounce Rush Limbaugh without fear or apology).
Which brings us back to Mr. Rubio, who by the time we get to November, might not have much of his soul left to sell, or for that matter, much of a path to victory.