You can think of handsome devil on the left as Ted Rubio, if you want; I like to think of him as Marco Cruz. He is my pathetic Photoshop attempt to combine Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz in one photograph. But there’s something that these two guys have in common. It is pretty obvious, but give that some thought while I give you a little personal history.
When I was 8 or 9 years old, my family took a trip to Texas to visit relatives. We stopped at some little dinner along the highway one night. There we all were: mon, dad, and four kids. My father is Portuguese. In California, he doesn’t look exotic. He could probably pass as Italian. But he certainly isn’t pasty white. And in Texas, apparently, he looked downright foreign. At the dinner, two good ol’ boys began discussing my father’s ethnicity very loudly. They couldn’t decide whether my dad was Spanish or Mexican. Eventually one said, “Hell, I don’t matter anyway.”
He was not indicating that all of us—Mexicans and Spaniards alike—are brothers and so it didn’t matter what my father was. Rather, he was saying that regardless of what my dad was, he was one of “them” and therefore not to be trusted. It was a very tense time. We paid our bill and left. The good ol’ boys followed in their truck. They tailgated the car all the way to country line. Then I guess they got bored, having struck a blow for the white man in their little town.
My point with telling you this is that my father’s last name (Moraes) had nothing to do with that little interaction with the “real” America that Republicans like so much. It had everything to do with the fact that my father’s skin is a little dark. He’s got that ethnic look.
Now look at Marco Cruz above? Do you think that he would be the subject of good ol’ boy speculation? I don’t. I think the only thing ethnic about him is his name. And that gets right to the heart of one of the many problems that Republicans have in reaching out to the Latino community. These guys are the future of course: in not so many decades, there really won’t be much of a correlation between skin color and ethnicity. They are on the leading edge. But I don’t think it is any accident that the two major Latino Republican figures are only slightly less pasty than Newt Gingrich.
So let’s see. The Republican Party has a economic platform that Latinos generally hate. They have a pretend immigration plan that most of their party hates in a very public way. And they have Latino candidates who look like they grew up in Chelsea. How’s that Latino outreach going, guys?