Marco Rubio's Clueless Boosters

He’s cute as a button. He’s a charismatic speaker. He’s young and he’s brown. And the moment the election was called for Obama on Tuesday night, he was immediately anointed as the Republican savior for 2016. "If there's a winner tonight,” George Will opined as ABC News analyzed the results, “it's the senator from Florida, Marco Rubio. Because all eyes are now going to be turned to him as a man who might have a way to broaden the demographic appeal of this party." Charles Krauthammer—one of the few pundits whose election predications were as risibly off-base as Will’s—also began to get starry-eyed about the Tea Party hero. And hey, next week he’s speaking in Iowa!

But the conservatives who are promoting Rubio as their magic ticket for wooing Latinos are only demonstrating that they still haven’t got a clue about what it actually takes. As Ta-Nehisi Coates points out, “Diversity isn't simply giving Mia Love a plum speaking spot. It is finding a Mia Love who represents the interests, and will advocate for policies, of other Mia Loves.” Same goes for Rubio: Even his own ethnic group in his own state, Cuban-Americans in Florida, are tilting Democratic in spite of his supposedly magnetic appeal.

The Republicans’ idea of diversifying has always been, quite literally, skin-deep. In the 1980s and '90s, when they decided it would be smart to woo more than the handful of inexplicable African Americans who supported the party, they recruited candidates in the J.C. Watts mold—Reaganites who were wholehearted supporters of the white man’s agenda. The farcical parade of what George H.W. Bush might have called “brown ones” at the GOP National Convention this summer showed that the party's approach to winning Latinos is exactly the same: Out were trotted down-the-line conservatives like New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, Texas Senator-elect Ted Cruz, and Rubio himself. (Only Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval  somewhat breaks the ideological mold.) Other notable Republicans of color—the list is brief—like Love (who lost on Tuesday) and Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal are, like Rubio, Tea Partiers.

These “diverse” Republicans support a social and economic agenda that benefits white privilege—by benefiting the already privileged. Latinos know that. And as all minority voters showed emphatically on Tuesday, they support an activist government that helps other people, you know, DREAM. Rubio will have none of that. In the unlikely event that Republicans actually run him for president in 2016, the surprise they’ll have on Election Night will likely be that Latinos (partly because of the implied insult involved in trying to get them to vote purely on the basis of skin color) voted for the Democrats in even greater numbers.

Wait. Come to think of it, maybe Rubio for president is a swell idea!

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