Welcome home, Senator Cruz

Photo by Michael Vadon

I’m glad to hear U.S. Sen Ted Cruz is paying us a visit this week. It’s always nice when a presidential candidate drops in on the Lone Star State for a day or two.

Nothing helps us get to know a politician better than spending some quality time with him – to find out what he’s like as a person, gauge the depth of his concern for the less fortunate, and get a feel for his intellectual honesty, sincerity and steadfastness.

So let’s welcome the senator with a big Texas abrazo.

I’m especially looking forward to Cruz’s visit because some of my information about him must be bad. His whistle-stop tour will be a good opportunity to clear up what must be misconceptions about his public statements.

Cruz is the child of a Cuban immigrant. He grew up to be a successful lawyer and won election to the U.S. Senate at 42.  It is a classic American immigrant tale. It’s as if Frank Capra is directing his life story written by Horatio Alger. 

Yet Cruz has followed Donald Trump in condemning birthright citizenship, whereby children born in this country are automatically citizens.

Trump was raised rich and protected for nearly all of his life. When he talks about slamming the door shut on immigrants, we know that Trump is speaking as much out of ignorance and lack of empathy as vanity.

Cruz, on the other hand, is either a victim of amnesia or he’s pandering to the powerful xenophobia of many tea partiers.

There’s a great saying in Spanish that I heard a lot from my abuelita: “Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres.” Roughly translated: “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.” In honor of Cruz’s whirlwind tour of Texas on Sept. 3, I’m amending the phrase: “Tell me what your itinerary is and I’ll tell you what kind of candidate you are.”

His Texas stops this week include Tyler, Fort Worth and Kingwood, according to his campaign website. Kingwood is as far south as he’s willing to go. Cruz is avoiding Texas’s big cities and, by and large, its fast-growing Latino population.

Nothing new here, I suppose.

And it’s probably for the best. I can’t imagine what Cruz would have to say to voters in my Texas House District in San Antonio – or in many other parts of the city – or El Paso or major sections of Austin, Dallas or Houston. In fact, the last time Cruz was in South Texas, he was in McAllen, where he had a border security briefing, and conveniently, a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser. He was in and out like the wind. I wonder how many children with birthright citizenship could pay the high toll for dinner? I would bet that number is even lower than Cruz’s support from Hispanic Texans. You can’t take the positions Cruz has and expect to win the support of Latinos.

Put more plainly, you cannot attack Latino children and expect a warm welcome on the West Side of San Antonio.

Cruz has made a strong point of saying he’s not the Hispanic candidate in the race for president. Well senator, it looks like we agree on at least one point.

But it does raise the question of what kind of candidate he really is.

Is he pandering to nativists? Check.

Is he unwilling to look Latino Texans in the eye and explain the need to rip up the U.S. Constitution? Check.

Is he simultaneously trying to score political points with his familial immigrant story while trying to deny thousands of children born on American soil from doing the same? Check.

He is right. He’s not the Hispanic candidate. He is the hypocrite candidate, who cowardly avoids his constituents in the hopes of advancing a political career that is reeling between self-absorption and political madness.

I acknowledge that Cruz represents the Lone Star State — for now.

However, since winning election as Texas’ junior senator in 2012, Cruz has shown no real interest in issues important to the people of the Lone Star State. His main constituency has been his own ambition. Everyday Texans are pretty far down on the list. My guess is that this reality doesn’t penetrate the Tea Party bubble he lives in. 

Sen. Cruz, I wish you good luck on your political science experiment, testing whether you or your contemporaries can be the first president elected in recent history with virtually no Hispanic support. I would wish you buena suerte, but I am not sure you would know what to do with it.  

Trey Martinez Fischer

State Representative