Marco Rubio's Catch-22

I do not envy Marco Rubio.  Just three years ago, he was the Cuban knight in shining armor who many conservatives thought could do no wrong.  At the time, I cheered him on, even though I didn't agree with him on immigration.

Three years later, he seems to be taking hits from the right about his views on immigration, which I still do not agree with.  So Marco and I have been consistently not eye-to-eye on immigration.

The odd part is this, though: whereas I disagreed with him in 2010 because he seemed too harsh on illegal immigration, now I find myself dissenting from his quest to give amnesty to millions of lawbreakers who really should not become citizens.

I know I didn't change.  I still support stiff border security and enforcement of existing laws.  I still think there should be selective exceptions made for people who are willing to serve in the military or who are studying something at the advanced level (MA or above) that we really need -- like engineering, integrated waste management, or computer programming, as opposed to my own field of literary criticism.  In other words, I'm a fairly reasonable person on this issue and want to immunize myself from the nuttiness of the extremes on either side of me.

Yet from my stationary position on immigration, I've watched a frantic and overwhelmed Marco Rubio rush from one remote extreme to the other.

I tried to pat him on the back, but he rushed by so quickly that I didn't have the chance.

This article from Fox News kind of says it all: One group of Republican whippersnappers dreams against all odds to flip brown voters into the GOP column, while stern commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter say it's a fool's errand.

Even though my last name ends in Z, I don't think it's necessary for millions of Latin-Americans to become American citizens and register to vote.  I've traveled enough in Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and Venezuela to know that these folks could return to their home countries and start better lives there, rather than stay here as a subjugated slave class living in fear.  For many of them, becoming American citizens means their children will stop speaking Spanish, get abortions, and start supporting gay marriage.

While I have very little interest in "helping" the Republican Party win anything, especially after our adventures with Milquetoast Mitt (whom I could vote for only after a lot of alcohol and much lesser-of-two-evils calculus), I don't want to go around lying to Republicans about what's going to happen when all these immigrants becomes citizens.  Let's be real, folks: they're going to register for the Democrats, vote for Democrats, and start mocking Marco Rubio.

Latino Republicans are a rare breed, typically drawn to the Republicans because of the socially conservative causes like marriage and abortion that the GOP's geniuses are eagerly hoping to unload.  (Yes, I know that in polls Latinos are more liberal than whites on social issues, but Latino Republicans, who are a small subset, tend to be Republican because they're traditional, not because they want lower corporate tax rates.)

Yet what can Marco Rubio do?  The right wing held him up as the Latino panacea.  If he doesn't come up with something novel and groundbreaking, his benefactors will think of him as a failure and stop inviting him to speak at confabs.  If he comes up with an immigration deal, his party's finished.

The problem here is that identity politics destroys too many of us, even on the right.  Note of caution to anybody who might enjoy a momentary vogue on account of what he is as opposed to who: don't go there.  Don't become a professional token or let people of any party use you that way.  It never ends well.

Good luck, Marco!  I hope you come out of this okay!

Robert Oscar Lopez is the author of Johnson Park and editor of English Manif.