There are two aspects about Republican presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s serious consideration of Florida Senator Marco Rubio as his vice presidential running mate that bear consideration. First there is the political analysis and then there is the more personal perspective. First from a political perspective Rubio’s selection could be a potential game changer.
No other prospective vice presidential nominee can change the political landscape like Sen. Rubio. His selection could galvanize the Florida Cuban communities within the Republican Party. The 50 year old and older conservative anti-Castro Cuban immigrants and their first generation progeny like Rubio might be expected to support Romney’s election in even higher percentages than they supported John McCain in 2008.
Their turnout would also likely be higher than 2008. These Cubans could persuade the younger members of their community to vote for one of their own and depress the level of support that the President received in the Cuban community in 2008. The President only won the state of Florida by 51% to 49%.
Couple these dynamics with the concerted effort Florida Republicans have made to suppress voting in the President’s base of African American voters. Republicans have made it almost impossible to register new Florida voters; they have reduced the window of time to vote early; they have new voter identification and residency requirement rules that are targeted at the four historically black colleges in Florida; and the rural, elderly black population that lack the new statutory identification requirements won’t be able to vote this time around.
The all of the above strategy could make Florida a sure fire engine red state in the 2012 election. If Florida is taken off the table and moves to the red state column and Rubio can come up with almost any kind of sellable Dream Act then Mitt Romney can hold Texas and Arizona, take Iowa and Missouri and focus on the big toss up states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia.
No other vice presidential nominee can make that kind of impact on the electoral map. Romney job will be to take three of the four toss up states to win the Presidency.
Sen. Rubio seems to have a lock on the vice presidential nomination from this perspective. But that troubles me a bit. Here is a young man of color, a descendant of the native people of this continent who has identified with the conquering culture and accepted their values. He has been successful politically because he has adopted the ideology of the reactionary right wing of the Republican Party.
This wing of the party is unsympathetic to the poor and to immigrants. If Sen. Rubio was walking down the street in a hoodie in a middle class neighborhood in some areas of the Florida panhandle or Alabama or South Carolina, he might very well be profiled. Yet, he has aligned himself with these forces. As a first generation immigrant, he may also not fully appreciate American history.
He might be missing the fact that the Republican party of today is the Southern Democratic party of the 1950’s and 1960’s just before the civil rights movement and the start of the culture war. Their traditional beliefs in guns, the bible, male dominance and white superiority are well documented. As a Senate Republican, Rubio caucuses with and votes with Senators who have these shared beliefs – Inhofe, Sessions, DeMint, McConnell to name a few.
He takes their lead and follows. On the immigration issue, Rubio is from a “preferenced” immigrant group that gets special treatment but somehow he cannot see other immigrants deserving anything close to his family status. It just makes me wonder what kind of person Sen. Rubio is and whose interests is he representing.