Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Third clown and counting

Joining what is sure to be a crowded clown car, today Marco Antonio Rubio, yet another first-term Republican US Senator, announced that he, too, thinks he should be president. Unlike the other two announced candidates, Rubio faces stiff rightwing opposition.

The teabagger faction of the party has abandoned Rubio because of his supposed support for “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants, something he doesn’t actually support. This relates mainly to the time he was one of the so-called “Gang of 8” that tried and failed to come up with a bipartisan compromise on immigration form. To the racist rump of the Republican Party, ANY immigration reform is unacceptable, so they abandoned Rubio.

Without a hint of irony, the teabaggers have gone “birther” on Rubio, claiming that Rubio isn’t a “natural born citizen” as required by the US Constitution, and therefore isn’t eligible to be president. In fact, Rubio was born in Miami, which makes him a US citizen, even though his parents weren’t citizens at the time.

Oddly enough, the teabaggers ignore the fact that “Ted” Cruz really was born in a foreign country—Canada—and acquired Canadian citizenship at birth. However, because his parents were US citizens, he’s also a “natural born citizen”, just like Rubio—and President Obama. Those teabaggers really ought to stop talking about things they so clearly don’t understand.

Which is not to say that Rubio’s origins are without problems. He frequently lied about his parents being “refugees” when Castro came to power in Cuba when, in fact, they came to the USA some years before then. This will naturally lead voters to wonder what else Rubio has embellished.

Perhaps wounded by the vicious reaction to his attempt to work on immigration reform, Rubio has done very little as a US Senator, sponsoring few bills since he became a Senator (talking about issues isn’t the same as doing something about them, after all).

So, we must assess Rubio mainly by his positions on issues. Rubio is an anti-science Republican, one of the party’s many climate change deniers in Congress. Like all Republican candidates, he also opposes a woman’s right to choice in abortion and also marriage equality. He voted against the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was opposed by rightwingers in Congress because it extended coverage to women in same-sex relationships and allowed battered women who were undocumented immigrants to gain a temporary visa. It was eventually reauthorised, anyway. Rubio also voted against expanding background checks for people purchasing guns.

I highlight all those issues because Rubio’s fans and pundits have been claiming that Rubio could appeal to moderate, mainstream Americans. HOW, exactly?! Most Americans support abortion at least in some limited circumstances, most Americans back marriage equality, most Americans support background checks for gun purchases, and women voters in particular wouldn’t be pleased with Rubio’s opposition to the VAWA on mere ideological grounds.

Add it all up, and Rubio’s record and opinions—like those of Cruz and Paul—are extreme, not what mainstream voters want. The problem for Republican candidates is that no Republican can win the White House without appealing to mainstream voters, but they can’t win the Republican nomination without appealing to the most far-right voters in their party. But the rightwing of the Republican Party is now so VERY far to the right that Republican candidates can’t credibly pivot and move back to the centre without looking like crass, opportunistic hypocrites who will say anything to get elected. Which, to be fair, is pretty much the case with all the clowns in the Republican car so far.

There’s still 1 year, 6 months, and 26 days until the 2016 US presidential election.


Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Yeah, which is actually a way of expressing how truly awful Cruz and Paul are.

rogerogreen said...

The terrible thing about Rubio is that he MAY be less bad than the others, certainly the announced candidates, Rand and Cruz.