I have a news tidbit for Beltway journalists: Latinos are not all the same. Crazy, I know, but I swear it's true. We actually are not Barbies, easily fitting into one another's costumes or convertibles or dream houses. We don't necessarily mix and match, like an ethnic version of Garanimals. We're all different. And for the love of God, this particular Latina is getting mighty tired of being mistaken for Latinos I Am Not. Case in point: Marco Rubio. Dear Mainstream Media: I am Latina, and I will never vote for Marco Rubio.
He announced his presidency yesterday, and since then, I have heard repeatedly, across the media spectrum, that He Will Appeal to Me as a Latino. I expect to hear this mantra for many days, weeks, and months to come; it's clearly a narrative that many Beltway types have committed to memory. Well... certainly, I understand why non-Latino journalists might be confused on this issue. As I walk down the streets of my hometown, I - like all other Latinos - just love and adore every Latino I meet. We experience an instant spiritual and cultural connection with each other, constantly, all 50.5 million of us counted in the 2010 census! I guess we're clannish that way, or tribal, or however you'd like to imagine it. Pluck any Latino out of his or her neighborhood, and I will immediately greet that person: "!Familia! ¡Amigo! ¡Compadre! I give my vote to YOU!" I won't even have to think - why would any politician wish me to do that - but rather, just stroll into the voting booth seventeen months from now, look for the Spanish surname on my ballot, and click. ¡Mi voto es tu voto, hermano! ¡Claro que sí!
I read Rubio's platform as it's provided on his senate website, "Reclaiming the American Dream." I don't disagree with every stance he takes. But I disagree with enough of them, and feel strongly enough about an important handful, that voting for him will never be an option. His views on foreign policy, specifically as to what would constitute grounds for U.S. military intervention, are non-starters for me. The same goes for his views on gay marriage, which I see as code for "your gay friends and loved ones should not have the same rights as your straight friends and loved ones." No thanks, hermano -- that ship sailed long ago for me. The environment? Nope, no agreement there. His stance on immigration seems... lukewarm, muffled in response to his party's ongoing hostility. He even signed the infamous Iran letter, along with 46 other senators who desired to undercut the president's foreign policy efforts. I, on the other hand, signed the White House "We the People" petition asking that said senators be investigated for treason. So you see... Senator Rubio and I view the world differently. And yet, we're both Latino. Will wonders never cease?
Finally, I cannot shake how profoundly, for me, the Republicans are the Party of No. The Party of Taking Things Away, Shutting Doors, Shaking Heads. Curtailing voting rights under the guise of guarding against fraud; supporting "religious freedom" legislation that insults my Catholic values of compassion and tolerance; refusing to face up to the fact that we share a land border with a poor and conflict-ridden nation -- itself a geographic gateway to other poor, unstable nations - and that their citizens, Latinos, will never just go away, no matter how many police you send to the border or walls you build there. Republican politicians, to me, are those who pass Right to Work legislation that they admit does nothing to attract jobs. (Thanks for your honesty, Rick Snyder.) They are mercenary pols taking calls they think are from the wealthy Koch Brothers while refusing to speak with thousands of ordinary citizens protesting outside their doors. (I haven't forgotten that one, Scott Walker). They practice "small government" by telling individual school districts which ethnic studies classes they may and may not teach. (Still avoiding you, Arizona). Republicans are the callous cads yelling out "You lie!" at the State of the Union address or "Let him die!" while discussing health insurance at 2012 presidential debates.
As of today, the main voice of the party does nothing to disabuse me of this impression: I look at the RNC website, and it features a "Stop Hillary" campaign. Nothing pro-Rubio, pro-Ted Cruz, pro-Rand Paul, or for any of their declared candidates. Nothing that tells me what the Republicans as a party are passionately for -- only what they hate and are against. Thanks, but I don't live in a cave, and I pay attention to the news -- I am fully informed about what Republicans hate. And I say, thanks, but no thanks.
I am so tired of being reduced to a demographic. There is no algorithm that defines me. (Well, maybe there is, but it's probably Amazon that owns it, and not the GOP and Dems. Vote for Amazon!) I don't care that Rubio and Cruz share a language with me -- all of the candidates, regardless of party, share with me this language I use right now, and this alone does not sway me either. Don't assume that Cubano issues are Boricua issues are Tejano issues are Chileño issues and that you needn't try to find me where I am. Woo me, pols: Tell me what you love and hold dear, not what or whom you hate. Don't try to raise me up while putting down my friends. Don't tell local teachers what they cannot teach, or local workers that billionaires in other states matter more than they do. Don't stack the deck against a middle class that is already struggling, or pile on poor folks barely hanging on. And whatever you do, so help me: Don't speak to me in your stodgy, faux "down with it," hanging-with-my-peeps Spanish. Don't go there, compadre. Just don't.
Oh, and I'm not voting for Ted Cruz because he's Latino either. Just for the record.