Joseph Cotto, 4/7/2015 [Archive]

Marco Rubio: Style Over Substance

By Joseph Cotto

Over the last several months, Marco Rubio has been mentioned by the national media so many times one might think he was just elected president.

In reality, Florida's junior U.S. Senator and former favorite son of America's conservative movement — his waffling on immigration amnesty cost him crucial support, it would seem — has yet to even formally announce his campaign.

Now is a good time to ask Rubio's supporters the following: What has he done that is so remarkable? After all, having been in the Senate for less than a full term, the man must have accomplished something tremendous to deserve such consideration, right?

Not from my point of view. In fact, while Rubio was serving his two terms as speaker of Florida's House of Representatives, I do not recall a great deal of his legislative accomplishments being discussed. The man's ambition, however, was spoken about at length.

Indeed, bucking all the odds and taking on a popular incumbent governor in a senatorial primary reeks of nothing less. Not that such a thing is inherently bad, of course. I was and am no fan of Charlie Crist, mind you, but he and Rubio seem to share a peculiar quality; elevating style over substance and the will to power over rational consideration.

Going back to the question of why Rubio is a serious candidate for president, it appears that there is an easily explainable answer. The Republican Party has been trying and failing to get a majority of the Hispanic vote for decades. Now, due to Rubio's Cuban heritage, many power brokers apparently believe that the GOP stands a viable chance of breaking through.

Of course, this is a plan destined for failure due to the simple fact that there is no such thing as a "Hispanic" voting bloc. The term "Hispanic" itself was brought to prominence by federal employees during the late 20th century. This was done for the purpose of finding a convenient label to stick on individuals having ancestry from lands colonized by the Spanish Empire. In terms of race and ethnicity, it carries no significance whatsoever.

Attempting to generalize about such an enormous share of the American electorate's voting habits is not only ignorant, but insulting. Should many in the conservative base and Republican hierarchy alike think that those of Mexican or Argentine descent will simply vote for Rubio because of his "Hispanicness", then they are in for a well deserved rude awakening.

This is precisely why politics should be issues, rather than ancestry, oriented. Anything less only promotes socioeconomic conflict and patently tribalistic tensions.

So, with that being noted, I refrain from supporting Rubio's ascent to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue strictly on the basis of his inexperience. Mike Huckabee once called him "our Barack Obama with substance."

As a Republican, I agree with the first three words of that quote. One Obama is quite enough for my liking.

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Copyright 2015 Joseph Cotto, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at joseph.f.cotto@gmail.com.

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

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