Marco Rubio still struggling on being a Latino in Congress


LatinaLista — It seems politicians, from both sides of the aisle, have been making gaffes left and right when trying to talk about Latinos. The latest is Sen. Reid.

Sen. Marco Rubio

In all actuality, Sen. Reid made a very innocent mistake that has been seized on by the GOP, run down the field and is in the throes of one of those self-serving touchdown dances. All because Sen. Reid made the mistake of thinking that Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American, a.k.a. Latino, would feel any sense of pride in representing the advancement of Latinos in high federal positions.

The whole ruckus stems from:

Rubio’s opposition to Aponte — a diplomat and Democratic staffer born in Puerto Rico — is now being portrayed by Democrats and some Spanish-language media as a broader attack on Puertorriqueños, a critical Latino voting bloc in Florida and other battleground states.

And after Rubio voted against Aponte twice on a pair of committee and procedural votes, he agreed to back her confirmation in mid-December under pressure from Hispanic groups, a move that struck senators on both sides of the aisle as a rookie stumble.

“He’s struck out twice. I mean, he says he’s for her now, but he [voted] against her twice,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told POLITICO.

“In Nevada, this woman [Aponte] is seen by the Puerto Rican community, the Hispanic community, as really somebody who is an up-and-rising star. … I just think it’s a mistake for someone who is supposedly representing Hispanic issues to do what [Rubio] has done,” added Reid, who said Rubio hasn’t delivered the votes on Aponte that he promised.

What got Rubio and other GOP members pointing fingers and calling out Reid for political incorrectness was the line:

I just think it’s a mistake for someone who is supposedly representing Hispanic issues to do what [Rubio] has done…

Rubio and his friends take great offense that Sen. Reid would assume Rubio represented “Hispanic interests” just because he’s Cuban American. In that respect, it’s a valid argument. What’s not valid is the degree to which Rubio and his supporters have criticized Reid.

It’s a natural mistake that a non-Latino would assume that, if given the opportunity, elected Latino officials would help other Latinos achieve notable positions. Other Latino politicians, regardless of party, would have no problem endorsing Aponte. Yet, Rubio is a novice politician and this stand showcases his inexperience in dealing with being a Latino in Congress. For now, Rubio identifies more with his Tea Party backers than his collective roots.

Some outlets have tried to say that Rubio’s opposition is a broader statement specifically against Puerto Ricans. I don’t buy it. If that is the case, then Florida voters need to make him a one-term politician. The last thing we need is another politician who has a vendetta against one specific demographic and abuses his authority in such a way.

Rather, I see Rubio suffering from what many Latinos suffer from when they break that proverbial glass ceiling. They so much want to be seen as “one of the guys” that they will, for all practical purposes, denounce the fabric of what shaped them.

In Rubio’s case, he wants to be seen as catering more to his Tea Party supporters. In any other scenario that might be slightly admirable but all this situation entails is approving someone to be ambassador to El Salvador, not a vote on raising taxes!

There are a lot more worse things in life that are offensive — like a Latino politician who can’t see past his own personal ambitions to help other Latinos achieve their aspirations.

That is the most offensive of all.