Dear Marco Rubio: Stop Promoting Racism

At Colorlines, Seth Freed Wessler writes that the Republican senator from Florida is attempting to persuade Latinos to embrace Tea Party politics that would not benefit them.

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Sen. Marco Rubio (Steve Pope/Getty Images)

If Latino Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is the one promoting a Tea Party idea, does that automatically mean the policy is helpful to Latinos en masse? Not according to Colorlines contributor Seth Freed Wessler, who writes that the deciding factor is reality, not rhetoric.

"My parents immigrated here in pursuit of the opportunity to improve their life and give their children the chance at an even better one," Rubio said on Tuesday night. "They made it to the middle class, my dad working as a bartender and my mother as a cashier and a maid. I didn't inherit any money from them."

The storyline is a profound divergence from most GOP leaders and presidential hopefuls. But it's not at all clear what Rubio's identity changes, or what a more diverse Republican lineup will mean at the polls. No doubt Mitt Romney's oratorical brutishness on immigration locked in his particularly pitiful performance with Latinos, Asians and many others, but the party as a whole has been bashing immigrants for more than two decades and a few new faces won't heal that harm.

"The rhetoric and the image do matter, but only if it's connected to policy," says Matt Barreto, a political scientist at the University of Washington who studies race and elections. "Latinos think Republicans are racists. That's where they're starting. You can't just change what you say and who says it and not change policy."

Read Seth Freed Wessler's entire piece at Colorlines.

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