Marco Rubio: The confused rising star of the Republicans

By Sylvia Rosales-Fike

Senador marco Rubio/Photo

He is the rising star of the Republicans. He is young, ambitious, loved by the tea party and radical conservatives, and he is Latino. He will save the party with the Latino vote in 2016.

I wonder if they may be confundidos, a bit foggy perhaps. Rather, Senator Marco Rubio seems to be out of touch with the top priorities of most Latino voters.

Perhaps it is his youth and inexperience; perhaps he didn’t experience poverty; or perhaps it is the fact that none of his Cuban American relatives or friends lived in fear as an undocumented. Or conceivably, his lack of understanding of the current needs and aspirations of most Latinos is due to his education as a conservative Republican, a group who believes that the working poor are “takers.”

Whatever the reason, Marco Rubio’s views about the needs and aspirations of the U.S. Latinos and related policies at the federal or local level are not being well received by his natural constituency he is trying to bring closer to the Republican world.

Univision, the premier Spanish language media network that reaches virtually every Latino household in America, openly despises Rubio.  One of their representatives said, about Rubio speaking after the President’s State of the Union, “Ask him to do us a favor and stay home that night.” This dynamic between the young Senator and the Latino media signals difficulties he may have in getting the critical votes the Republicans need in future elections.

It seems that Rubio is perceived by many Latinos as confundido or out of touch. And there seems to be some rationale behind this perception.

On immigration reform, tops on the Latino agenda, the Senator has been a leading voice in opposing the President in a fair path towards legalization of the undocumented. He is demanding, to the applause of right wing conservatives, strict conditions in place before a bill is passed.

The Senator recently voted against the Violence Against Women Act. He was one of 22 Senators, all Republicans.  Domestic violence is an issue of high concern for Latinas and the bill had a provision to extend political asylum to immigrant women fleeing perpetrators, which Rubio also opposes.

Latino youth, along with African American, account for the largest percentages of victims of gun violence. Working parents who cannot afford safer neighborhoods pray every day for the safety of their children. Gun control is a high priority for Latino voters. The Senator opposes gun control.

The announcement of the President that he will strive for a $9/hour minimum wage has been welcomed with accolades by an overwhelming majority of Latinos. It is common to find both parents working 2 or 3 shifts, in addition to helping with their children’s after school work, so they can make ends meet.  Rubio opposes raising the minimum wage.

Republicans have high hopes. They have found a star in Rubio. But like him, they remain confundidos. They have launched a new face and tweaked words; however, the content keeps falling flat on the precise everyday needs and dreams of Latino voters.


By Sylvia Rosales-Fike.  Sylvia has been an activist and organizational leader for the advancement of immigrants’ rights in the United States for twenty eight years. She designed and co-chaired the “No Human Being Is Illegal” national campaign in the mid-1980s.


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